Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Dr. Caroline Heller

Second Advisor

Dr. Vivien Marcow-Speiser

Third Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Bouffard



The experience of the tap dance educator in the private sector studio was studied using a mixed methods approach that included a survey and individual interviews. A total of 338 tap teachers representing diversity in age, experience, location and competition participation responded to 25 survey questions that asked about enrollment and hiring, training and curriculum, dance competitions and social media, and challenges and benefits. Interviews with five private sector tap teachers and four master teachers collected in-depth descriptive data that expanded on the primary topics explored in the survey. Key findings include the following: tap enrollment stayed the same or is increasing, it is extremely challenging to hire qualified tap teachers, tap teacher training opportunities are lacking, most tap teachers learn from their own teacher when growing up; and tap history, music theory and improvisation are rarely taught. In the area of dance competitions: urban studios compete less than rural and suburban studios; and judging, flooring and amplification in competitions are not satisfactory for tap dance. Teachers’ greatest challenge is teaching mixed levels and their greatest benefit is working with students and watching them acquire new skills. A major conclusion is that the current trends influencing the field align with significant periods and personalities in tap dance history. In order for tap dance education to become more relevant in today’s dance world, improved teacher training programs should be designed which include “how” and “why” to teach tap history and music theory.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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