Favorite Tap Choreography Tricks


My name is Zachary Kelley and I am a professional tap dancer and educator based in Scottsdale, Arizona. For many of you that follow my work, and social media, you know that I teach kids all over the state, nation, as well as international students from different parts of the world. 

Educating is my passion; with that I have so many wonderful opportunities to train kids by choreographing for them. I love choreographing and setting tap pieces; It is my way of being creative and expressing myself through rhythm and movement. 

This past year I have set over 30 pieces of choreography (is it crazy to think this is a low year for me since majority of the studios are on off nationals year? HA) for numerous studios and many kids needing solos for the dance season. 

I have found myself, having moments of creatively feeling repetitive, and taking those instances to push myself as an artist.

I have come up with a series of tricks to revert to when I have creative ruts, to help keep choreography fresh, innovative, and original. 

  1. Criss Cross for Jesus 

    Take a classic step, such as a shuffle, and instead of just doing the normal side to side shuffle that we have all done a thousand times, criss cross the shuffle behind and it will create visual excitement to the audience. This is also a fun way to challenge the student(s) so they don’t feel like they are always doing the same thing. 

  2. alphabet moment

    We all have done a classic front line of 5 kids and a second line with 6 kids. Switch it up and remembers our A, B, C’s. When doing your formations, pick a letter from the alphabet and create a formation in that shape (example X). 

  3. Be a TWO-FACED Choreographer; Wait WHAT?

    Did I get your attention? Good! We don’t like a fake, two-faced friend, but we do love being two faced with formations in dance! 

    Switch the dancers directions and have everyone facing two (or more) ways to give the dance depth, and visual modification; rather than the usual front and back formations we see in every performance. 

  4. Wiki-Wiki: Rewind

    Take an 8 count of choreography and reverse the whole combination. Remember, less is more; there is no need to over complicate every phrase of choreography. 

5. Roll with It Bae 

We love a roll off moment. They are fun, and the audience think its the coolest sounding thing ever (I can’t disagree). 

Do you have more choreography tricks that you use when creating? Leave your ideas in the comments! Knowledge is power, and I would love for other artists to be inspired and find new ways to help with the creative process.


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