Working Out With Aaron Tolson

Bernardo Nogueira, Courtesy Só Dança

The hoofer created his own tap-based workout class to get fit.

Despite an exhausting weekly schedule rehearsing for upcoming performances, teaching at Broadway Dance Center, working with private students and traveling for workshops and shows, New York hoofer Aaron Tolson had a surprising realization: “As I get older, tap dancing is not keeping me physically fit.”

The father of two decided to find a way to make his career last longer—and fulfill one of his dreams: “I wanted to get as many people tapping as I could.”

So he developed a combination cardio, strengthening and tap class called Sole Power. It fuses his tap expertise with knowledge he gained from his record-setting track career, which had earned him a full scholarship to St. John’s University and an invitation to the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials. “It’s a tap class that never stops moving,” says Tolson, with a laugh.

Intended for non-dancers, Sole Power requires no previous dance experience or rhythmic ability. Each class begins with an introduction of basic tap steps—such as shuffles, flaps, step-heels and heel-toes—that eventually form a short sequence that students repeat in between exercises to keep their heart rates up. Students alternate between learning simple tap technique and performing exercises like lunges and squats, to which a tap component (like heel drops) is added. Even as Tolson demonstrates the next activity, the class stays in motion by repeating the interval or doing marches and step-touches.

The final exercise is tap trenches, which require alternately sliding each leg back while reaching the opposite arm perpendicular to the floor. Then students work on a long combination and end the class by cooling down with stretching.

Sole Power recently launched at Crunch Gym locations around New York City and Los Angeles, and will soon be in more cities as Tolson trains new teachers, or “Solemates.”

Tolson estimates that students can burn between 300 and 600 calories in each hour-long class. “It exercises your body and your mind,” he says. “When you tap, you have to focus—you can’t let your mind wander. You don’t even realize how hard you’re working.”

Thinkstock

Sole Power Results

Tolson credits his own creation with making him healthier and stronger. Teaching the class has helped him to lose about 30 pounds and relieve his tendonitis and knee pain. His other secret? Eliminating peanut butter and desserts from his diet.

No Tap Shoes Necessary

Students wear Power Soles, shoe covers with plastic taps that don’t ruin floors. They can also be used as beginner tap shoes, so students can practice anywhere.

Dedicated Dad

“I want to be fit for my kids,” Tolson says, referring to his daughters Charlotte, 3, and Alexis, 10 months. “The more fit I am now, the better off I’ll be in the long run with them.”

Show Comments ()

Looking for your next audition shoe? Shot at and in collaboration with Broadway Dance Center, Só Dança has launched a new collection of shoes working with some pretty famous faces of the musical theater world! Offered in two different styles and either 2.5" or 3" heels, top industry professionals are loving how versatile and supportive these shoes are! Pro tip: The heel is centered under the body so you can feel confident and stable!

Dance in Pop Culture
Photo via the Hammer Museum

While Solange was busy helping big sis Beyoncé give Coachella its best performances of all time, an equally compelling project was quietly circulating on Instagram:

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
StockSnap

When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:

"Dance isn't for everyone."

This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.

Keep reading... Show less
Cover Story
Robert Fairchild is jumping into the next phase of his career feet-first. Photo by Jayme Thornton

In his final bow at New York City Ballet, during what should have been a heroic conclusion to a celebrated ballet career, Robert Fairchild slipped and fell. His reaction? To lie down flat on his back like he meant to do it. Then start cracking up at himself.

"He's such a ham," says his sister Megan Fairchild, with a laugh. "He's really good at selling whatever his body is doing that day. He'll turn a moment that I would totally go home and cry about into something where the audience is like, 'That's the most amazing thing ever!' "

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Voices
"There is a palpable sense of hope for the future." Photo by Devin Alberda via Instagram

New York City Ballet continues its first year without Peter Martins at the helm as our spring season opens tonight.

When he retired at the start of the new year, we plunged headfirst into unknown, murky waters. Who would the new director be? When would we know? Would we dancers get some say in the decision? Who would oversee the Balanchine ballets? Who would be in charge of casting? Would a new director bring along huge upheaval? Could some of us be out of a job?

Keep reading... Show less
Broad is Orlando Ballet's first dancer named artist in residence. Photo by Michael Cairns, Courtesy Orlando Ballet.

In the world of ballet, Arcadian Broad is a one-stop shop: He'll come up with a story, compose its music, choreograph the movement and dance it himself. But then Broad has always been a master of versatility. As a teenager he juggled school, dance and—after the departure of his father—financial responsibility. It was Broad's income from dancing that kept his family afloat. Fast-forward six years and things are far more stable. Broad now lives on his own in an apartment, but you can usually find him in the studio.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Alexander Ekman's Midsummer Night's Dream was created for Royal Swedish Ballet. Photo by Hans Nilsson, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet

Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.

Dance As Activism
Indumba investigates an African cleansing ritual. Photo by Ken Carl, via bam.org


When Kevin "Iega" Jeff saw Fana Tshabalala's Indumba at the annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience in South Africa, he immediately knew he would ask Tshabalala to set the work on his company.

"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Training
Name calling, physical intimidation and cyberbullying are all-too-common experiences among male dancers. Photo by Goh Rhy Yan/Unsplash

Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.

"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "

Keep reading... Show less
Dance on Broadway
PC Kevin Berne, courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.

courtesy www.today.com

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Viral Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Giveaways