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Style of American theatrical dance using precise rhythmical patterns of foot movement and audible foot tapping. It is derived from the traditional clog dance of northern England, the jigs and reels of Ireland and Scotland, and the rhythmic foot stamping of African dances. Popular in 19th-century minstrel shows, versions such as buck-and-wing (danced vigorously in wooden-soled shoes) and soft-shoe (danced smoothly in soft-soled shoes) developed as separate techniques; by 1925 they had merged, and metal taps were attached to shoe heels and toes to produce a more pronounced sound. The dance was also popular in variety shows and early musicals.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tap dance, visit Britannica.com.