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Tap Dance / Body Percussion

Susan Filipiak

Did you ever want to make music with your feet? Join UMS teaching artist Susan Filipiak as she takes you on a journey of how to be a tap dancer and learn about the legends that made this American art form so great. You will explore creating rhythms with your body, basic percussive foot movement, and then choreograph your own unique dance.

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Performance Playground logoRecommended for

Grades K-5 (Ages 5-10)

Meet the Artist

Susan Filipiak brings a life-long dedication to dance, focusing on American vernacular styles of tap, jazz and swing dance. Years of music study (piano and voice) also gave her a strong understanding of the musicality of dance. Susan was able to study extensively with the masters and mentors of American tap dance – Honi Coles, LaVaughn Robinson, Buster Brown, Eddie Brown, Brownie Brown, Lloyd Storey, Gregory Hines, Brenda Bufalino, Dianne Walker, Heather Cornell. Susan has decades of teaching experience in dance studios, universities, K-12 arts enrichment programs, and was named a Michigan Traditional Artist by Michigan State University in 2014. She is delighted to work again with UMS, bringing dance into the classroom.

Share your new skills using #UMSplayground or email any photos, videos, or feedback to


Lesson 1

Kaboom Clap Clap, Are you Ready to Tap?

Learn the ABC basics of tap dance.


Lesson 2

Feet, Find the Beat!

Review the “tap alphabet” and discover connecting movement to music.


Lesson 3

Watch Party: Come and Meet Those Dancing Feet

Explore the history and evolution of this true American art form. Use the playlist below to jump to a selection, or view in order from the start.


Referenced Videos

1. First film of tap dancers (Silent film, 1894)
2. Bill Robinson – Stair Dance (filmed 1935)
3. Bill Robinson and Shirley Temple – Little Colonel (1935)
4. Nicholas Brothers – Stormy Weather (1943)
5. Cora La Redd – That’s The Spirit (1933)
6. Gene Kelly – An American in Paris (1951)
7. Gregory Hines – Rhythm is My Business with the Boston Pops (1983)
8. Dorrance Dance – Myelination (2019)
9. Caleb Teicher – Nocturne by Jon Baptiste with the National Symphony Orchestra (2018)


Lesson 4

Let’s Create New Tap Dances – You are the Dance Boss

Learn the skills to become a choreographer.


Lesson 5

Fidgety Feet – Have Fun with Tap Improvisation

Explore what it means to improvise and create your own tap dances.