TAP (ISTD Syllabus)

What is Tap Dance?

Tap is a highly technical and rhythmical dance form focusing on control and dexterity of the feet whilst maintaining performance skills and natural style. Dancers use shoes with metal plates on the toe and heel to strike the floor in various ways creating rhythms.

There are many roots to tap dance, from African to Irish to Latin to Folk dance forms. There are also many different styles of tap dance and students are encouraged to find their natural style and rhythm to express themselves.

The Vanessa Golborn School of Dance teaches the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing theatrical tap syllabus which embraces tap as an American dance form but encompasses a number of different styles of tap preparing students for the variety of styles seen in West End and Broadway shows.


These classes encourage musicality, a strong connection to rhythm, creativity and freedom for experimentation while teaching safe and correct tap dance technique preparing them for further training. The aims throughout the grades are:

  • to learn and improve tap dance technique
  • to improve co–ordination, balance, strength, dexterity and speed
  • to promote awareness of the body in space including a sense of line and style
  • to develop musicality and rhythm
  • to develop creativity, improvisational and performance skills
  • to gain confidence through performance

Classes start from around the age of five working through the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing syllabus from Primary to Grade 6. Students who show good progression and dedication are offered the chance to take exams in these grades.

As students grow older the training and standard progresses with them. Exams are not compulsory but many students gain a sense of achievement and confidence from taking exams, as well as improving their dancing by the hard work required to attain the high ISTD standards.


Vocational training can be done alongside or after graded training and are meant to push talented students to advance their technical proficiency to prepare them for a career in dance. Vocational exams from Intermediate to Advanced 2 are offered to students who show outstanding technical ability, performance skills and dedication to dance training. The aims for vocational training are:

  • to achieve excellence in tap dance technique
  • to achieve self-awareness of the body in space and excellence in line and style
  • to advance flexibility and strength, dexterity and speed beyond the level necessary for grades
  • to achieve excellence in creativity, improvisational and performance skills
  • to achieve excellence in rhythm and musicality
  • to prepare students for full time vocational training and careers in dance and performing arts