Dance Education: Bill Robinson

For the past 3.5 years, I have been teaching tap dance classes in the evenings for our local theater company Maui OnStage. It started because I love to tap and the other teacher wanted to phase out. Now I have taken continued education through the American Tap Dance Foundation, Karida Griffith, and Hillary Marie at iTapOnline. Tap dance is more than a hobby, it's a passion and stress reliever. I always leave class so energized and soul-filled. 
I previously taught at Pōmaika‘i Elementary, an arts-integrated school on Maui. There, I loved to teach my firsties about artists. We drew chalk cats like Paul Klee, finger-painted impressionist ponds like Claude Monet, and painted close-ups of flowers like Georgia O'Keeffe. I wanted to teach my students about famous dancers, too. Inspired by Misty Copeland's children's book Firebird (affiliate link), my students learned about her life, a little about ballet, and created a beautiful torn paper firebird art piece.  You can find that unit I created about Misty in my TpT store for free

In my tap dance classes, I always bring in a bit of tap dance history. In my studies at the American Tap Dance Foundation, I learned dances from the Copasetics repertory. The Copasetics were a group of tap dance soloists who were dedicated to preserving the memory of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. I teach my students the Bill Robinson time step and the Bill Robinson turning flap sequence. We watch videos of his stair dance, his tap scene in Stormy Weather, and his duet with Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel

I created this unit to help my students learn about his life as we learn his steps and his legacy. 

Start with the book "Rap a Tap Tap" (affiliate link) by Leo and Diane Dillon.

Then show students these quote posters. 

Use the vocab cards to preteach vocabulary from the reading passage or mini book. Use the questions for a class discussion or for students to complete with a partner or on their own. 

Finish your unit with a timeline to discuss important life events and to learn a little bit more about Bill Robinson's life. 

Don't forget to watch the video clips I listed in the unit and help students recognize similarities between the dances and start to identify Bill Robinson's "up on the toes" style. 

I hope you have so much fun teaching your students about Bill "Bojangles" Robinson! Download the unit FOR FREE from my TpT store


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