There are a wide range of items typical to include in a dance bag, items such as dance shoes, toe pads, and even advil and ice packs; however, there are some dance bag components that may not be as well known for their usefulness. Although a few of these items may seem a bit unconventional to some, they could very well be solutions to many of life’s little problems.
There are a thousand and one reasons to have a set of screwdrivers within five feet of a dancer’s tap shoes, the main reason being that screws can come loose often, and sometimes at rather inconvenient times. Even brand new or the most well-made shoes can suffer from loose screws, so it is essential that tappers have a small Phillip’s head on site, just in case. Also, different types of tap shoes can react differently to different kinds of flooring. One pair of shoes may sound full and loud on a raised wood floor, but may be more muffled on a Marley floor, and this is especially pertinent to dancers at competition, where they may not know the floor type until just hours before they dance. This can be somewhat compensated for by either tightening or loosening one’s taps with a screwdriver, as tightly fitted taps sound fuller on wood while looser taps resound more on such tempered materials as Marley and cork. In either case, it wouldn’t hurt to have this useful tool on hand.
- Spare Screws
Hand in hand with screwdrivers are spare tap shoe screws, as these little necessities have the tendency to disappear without notice. During fast paced dances and practices abundant with jumps or shuffles, screws can become loose enough to simply fall out of the tap during movement, very likely causing them to fly across the stage or studio. Rather than stopping rehearsal to crawl around looking for a screw, it is simply more efficient to keep a few spare screws in the dance bag as replacements. These can be picked up at dance retail stores or at many shoe repair or hardware stores.
This item is of particular use on wood and tile floor stages, for a purpose many tap dancers would be glad to make use of. By nature, the smooth taps fastened to the bottom of tap shoes are slippery on many surfaces, including smooth wood and tile stage floors. One cheap and fast fix to this potential catastrophe is tape. Tape such as masking, duct or even sports medical tape can be placed directly on the tap before dancing, giving the taps more traction on smooth surfaces, decreasing the risk of slipping. Many types of tape will do, but masking tape is ideal, as it provides a thin layer of no-slip grip without deadening much, if any, of the sound. Furthermore, a spritz of hairspray or a short dunk in the rosin box once tape has been applied to the taps further increases the non-slip texture.
- Paper clips and/or safety pins
Laces can be a hazard of the tap dancing sport, as fast movements and jumps can shake loose even the tightest of knots. Double knotting and tucking in laces works fairly well, but for performances and competitions, some tappers may want to have a bit of added insurance. A sure fire solution to loose laces requires either paperclips or safety pins, which can be weaved and/or fastened to the knots in order to keep them from becoming undone.
Every musician’s best friend is making its way into the world of dance, especially where tap dancers are concerned. Metronomes are mechanical or electric devices that keep a steady tempo by producing clicks or other sounds at regular intervals. The speed can be changed to meet the parameters of any music or choreography, usually by the touch of a button. This is truly a tapper’s most important practice partner. Tap dancers are percussionists, and as such it is their duty to perform the beats evenly and accurately. Metronomes keep a steady beat for dancers to practice with, making this a most critical companion for any rehearsal.
While many of these items may seem a bit odd to save space for in a dance bag, tappers would be remiss to show up to class, rehearsal, performance or competitions without them. Things like masking tape and screwdrivers can be the perfect, quick solution to a slew of problems that can crop up for tap dancers, and it never hurts to be as prepared as MacGuyver.
Written by Jenne Vermes