August 2015 | 2 Tips for Tap Teachers | Waltz Clog and Bell

Photo by Robert Rosen

Photo by Robert Rosen

Waltz Clog and Bell

By Thelma Goldberg

Tip 1
The waltz clog is a classic tap step rooted in two dances that met in the American minstrel shows of the mid-1800s: the jig, from Ireland, and the Lancashire clog, from England. Originally performed in hard shoes, the waltz clog was adopted first by vaudeville hoofers such as Eddie Rector, then later by movie musicals in numbers such as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” from the 1949 film of the same title.

Usually done in 3/4 time, the simple waltz clog is a leap, shuffle, ball change (1&2&3). I teach the waltz clog to students once they’ve mastered the shuffle, ball change in eighth-note time and can leap and ball change to land with stability on the ball of one foot. Try using “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins.

The waltz clog can also be done in 4/4 time: add another shuffle, ball change, or step; for example, the last step of the shim sham. To challenge advanced dancers, add a brush before the leap, heel drops after the leap or as part of the ball change, or a pickup or pullback after the shuffle.

For more information:
“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” from Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949), featuring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, YouTube

Tip 2
A “flash” step frequently done in waltz time is the bell. At the barre, have students swing one leg to the side, lifting the knee and flexing the ankle, then hop, clicking the heels and landing on the other foot. Once they master that sequence, have them cross-step before the swing, resulting in three single sounds (step, click, land from the hop). Challenge students to push off from the floor and kick open after the click for a high-flying tribute to an important step from the past.

Thelma Goldberg, teacher and director of The Dance Inn in Lexington, Massachusetts, since 1983, is the author of Thelma’s Tap Notes: A Guide to Teaching Tap: Children’s Edition.