SPICE UP YOUR SHUFFLES!

Many of us have been teaching for a very long time and know exactly what to do in the classroom but we get bored with the material we know our students need to continually work on.

Let’s face it…..our dancers must learn by constant careful repetition and the progressive stacking of basics in order to build them into strong Intermediate and Advanced students.

Here’s a glimpse into one of my books; Variables Techniques for Teaching Tap which outlines specific ways to update, boost and interject new excitement into tap steps that you are already teaching. Check out the “Teaching Tools” tab on the top bar of the home page to find out about all the books and teaching aids I have developed to help you in the classroom.

Let’s talk about the SHUFFLE!

No tap student can excel without a terrific SHUFFLE, but once they learn that
BRUSH + SPANK = SHUFFLE
they think they’ve got it down! Teachers know it takes thousands of SHUFFLES in thousands of ways to develop great technique.

Here’s a couple ways to spice things up….

Make sure that you are using SHUFFLE in every possible direction and rhythm.

Try the following rhythmic combos in your warm ups:

1 BRUSH
2 SPANK
3& SHUFFLE
4& SHUFFLE
this exercise changes the rhythm pattern from quarter notes (1,2) to eighth notes (3&4&)

 

&1 SHUFFLE
&2 SHUFFLE
a3 SHUFFLE
a4 SHUFFLE
this exercises changes the rhythm pattern from eighth notes (1&2&) to eight note triplet with a rest (a3a4)

 

A QUICK WORD ABOUT SHUFFLE TECHNIQUE:
If you want your students to have an even rhythm SHUFFLE, keep the thigh still and swing only from the knee down. The leg will use gravity in the most efficient way to produce a pendulum type, even swing and rhythm.
When making the faster rhythm SHUFFLES it becomes necessary to lift the knee up and allow the entire leg to assist. The BRUSH sound is made as the leg drops down (assisted by gravity) and the SPANK sound is accomplished while lifting the leg back up. The ankle must remain very loose and the foot hangs straight down from the knee joint. Don’t allow the leg to fold backward under the knee during this type of SHUFFLE. Have your students stand sideways to check this technique in the mirror.

 

1 BRUSH
2 SPANK
a3 SHUFFLE
a4 SHUFFLE
5& SHUFFLE
6& SHUFFLE
7& SHUFFLE
8 STEP
This exercise combines three different shuffle rhythms.

 

1& SHUFFLE PARALLEL FRONT
2& SHUFFLE TURNED OUT TO SIDE
3& SHUFFLE REACHING BACK
4 STEP
REVERSE
These SHUFFLES swing in different directions (think outside rond de jambe)

 

 

Now try these other SHUFFLE patterns (think en croix!)

FRONT, SIDE, FRONT, STEP

SIDE, FRONT, SIDE, STEP

SIDE, BACK, SIDE, STEP

BACK, SIDE, BACK,STEP

FRONT, BACK, FRONT, STEP

BACK, FRONT, BACK, STEP

BACK, SIDE, FRONT, STEP (INSIDE ROND DE JAMBE)

 

Now that we have some patterns….let’s mix it up with some
SHUFFLE REPLACEMENTS

Let’s agree that a basic SHUFFLE = BRUSH + SPANK*

*Remember that a BRUSH is one sound made by the front tap (I prefer that students begin by striking the back edge of that front tap). Begin with the knee bent and straighten it striking the floor in any direction.
A SPANK is one sound made by the front tap (still the back edge). Begin with the leg straight and bend the knee striking the floor in any direction.
The old definition of BRUSH being one sound forward and the SPANK being one sound backward is extremely outdated and simply doesn’t work for the way that Tap Dance has evolved.
Also, the term BRUSH BACK has to go!!!!
It is two words for one struck sound and can be rhythmically confusing! If you are still using Brush Back, transition the word Spank into your classroom as soon as possible.

Try the SHUFFLE REPLACEMENT of the REVERSE SHUFFLE!

Spank + Brush = REVERSE SHUFFLE

The student must prepare the leg forward instead of the typical backward preparation.
It is not any more difficult than the original basic Shuffle, we just never do it!

1& REVERSE SHUFFLE R (SP + BR)
2 STEP R
REVERSE

 

REVERSE SHUFFLE IRISH:
&1 REVERSE SHUFFLE R (SP + BR)
& HOP L
2 STEP R
REVERSE

 

NOW LET’S THROW IN THE SCUFFLE!

Scuff + Spank = SCUFFLE

a1 SCUFFLE R (SC + SP)
2 STEP R
REVERSE

 

SCUFFLE IRISH
a1 SCUFFLE R (SC + SP)
& HOP L
2 STEP R
REVERSE

 

 

My next blog will give you more SHUFFLE REPLACEMENTS to use in your classes.
Hide the repetition of teaching the Shuffle and challenge your students by replacing a few of their Shuffles with these variables and their basic Shuffles will begin to improve.

Leave a comment and let me know how it goes or what else you might like to see on the site!  I would LOVE to hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “SPICE UP YOUR SHUFFLES!

  1. Loved your study on “shuffles”, Diane! Thank you- I will definitely use those exercises with my tap students. And have another wonderful trip to Africa!!
    Jo-Ann

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