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These are the sounds of tap shoes hitting the ground: click, clank, clunk, tip, tap, toe, shuffle ball change, shuffle hop step.

Every heel has its place in tap class. Tap dance is a stress reliever, a fun form of expression and now my community outreach.

I love to tap. I have studied tap since I was 4 years old. When I turned 13, I started doing tap solos. When these began I told my mom, “I do not want the baby tap shoes anymore.” I wanted the ones with the tie up front, like the advanced girls wear.

The next day I put my brand new, $70, size 7z black tap shoes on and scraped them on the sidewalk and scratched the metal on the bottom all up. The reason dancers do this is because with new shoes the metal will not grip the wood floor. The metal needs to grip the floor so the dancers don’t fall when the metal gets warm. If the metal is not cracked, the dancer is more likely to slip or fall because the metal can be slippery on the waxed, wooden dance floor.

I practiced in these shoes at South Buffalo Dance Academy for months to prepare for my first solo. I listened to “Can’t Buy Me Love” from the Beatles for weeks. I had never heard it before. My teacher had me listen to it about five times, and I did not understand the words at first. After a few times, they became clearer.

I still own those tap shoes. They don’t look the same as they did when I first bought them. The leather on the front is scraped off. There are knots in the laces. A piece of the hard bottom of the right foot is slowly chipping away.

Because I’m now in college, I don’t dance as much as I used to, but I still have a reason to wear my tap shoes a few times a week. I am now a volunteer at Moving Miracles Dance Studio, a therapeutic dance/movement program for people with developmental delays and special needs. The instructors and volunteers really love the dancers. If a dancer feels that a step is too hard or will hurt, the instructor finds a different step that the dancer is able to do.

Some of the dancers love the part of class called “Musical Notes,” an activity in which each dancer gets a whiteboard and a crayon and draws to the sound of the music. If the music is fast, the dancer should move the crayon fast, and if the song is slower the dancer should slow down. Like me, the dancers can’t wait to put their tap shoes on. Some dancers like to march around the room with their tap shoes on, and some love doing steps across the floor in their tap shoes.

I am proud to show them how great tap dancing is. I also still take one class per week.

You can see why I still love to tap.