Tapped In

July 31, 2015

Three schools that take tap to the next level

There may be fewer degree options out there for college-bound tappers, but that doesn’t mean the ones that do exist are any less rigorous than ballet and modern dance programs. Here are three stellar options for the rhythmically inclined, whether you’re looking to work on Broadway, in a tap company or as a choreographer.

—Suzannah Friscia

University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Photo by K. Danielson, courtesy UWSP.

University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point

Stevens Point, WI


Degree offered: BA in dance

No. of majors: 55–60

Coursework: All majors take at least two levels of tap technique, which incorporate tap history, improv and music theory, as well as some African and Irish dance.

Opportunities: Each summer, the three-day Point Tap Festival, curated by faculty member Jeannie Hill, holds classes, jam sessions and a final concert. Students also perform in a student-choreographed concert and spring show each year.

Master teachers: Guests have included Max Pollak, Lynn Schwab, Brenda Bufalino, and Mari Fujibayashi and Olivia Rosenkrantz of Tapage.

  • This year, the advanced tap students performed and taught at local elementary schools and senior centers.


Oklahoma City University. Photo by John Bedford, courtesy OCU.

Oklahoma City University

Oklahoma City, OK


Degree offered: BPA in dance performance, with an optional tap emphasis

No. of majors: 175–200

Coursework: OCU offers eight levels of tap technique, plus rhythm tap, theater dance, American dance history and tap choreography and pedagogy.

Opportunities: All students can audition for OCU’s American Spirit Dance Company, which focuses on tap, jazz and musical theater dance. The group performs on campus every semester and tours internationally. Tap students also perform in campus musicals and an annual student choreography show.

Master teachers: Guest teachers and lecturers have included Debbi Dee, Melba Huber, Donald O’Connor, Bunny Briggs and Fayard Nicholas.

  • Recent alumni have danced with Chicago Human Rhythm Project and on Broadway.


Davis & Elkins College’s Appalachian Ensemble. Photo by Andrew Carroll, courtesy D&E College.

Davis & Elkins College

Elkins, WV


Degree offered: BA in American vernacular dance

No. of majors: 5–7

Coursework: Classes include tap, jazz, Appalachian clogging/flatfooting, North Atlantic step dance traditions, partner dance, West African/Afro-Carribean, American social dance and urban dance.

Opportunities: The college hosts a spring festival with more than 20 workshops in various dance genres. In the summer, guest artists visit the school’s Augusta Heritage Center for a weeklong vernacular dance program.

Master teachers: Guests have included Baakari Wilder, Howard “Sandman” Sims and Brenda Bufalino.

  • D&E’s Appalachian Ensemble is open to student dancers and musicians, and tours regionally.