Germaine Salsberg

How I teach a paddle and roll

Germaine Salsberg with Jill Kenney (left) and Shelby Kaufman (right) at Broadway Dance Center

Tap instructor Germaine Salsberg’s upright torso and pronounced posture are reminiscent of her days as a classical modern dancer with Toronto Dance Theatre. Now a renowned tap teacher for more than 20 years, Salsberg uses her modern roots to supplement her tap instruction for beginners and adults.

“I structure my classes like any ballet or modern class,” says Salsberg. “There’s an order of events leading to a final combination.” She appreciates students who have trained in other styles, because she says their sense of body awareness is heightened.  “Modern dancers are used to quick weight shifts,” she says, which is very helpful when learning tap. “Tap’s shift of weight is very aggressive. You want to be completely over your standing hip and be committed to one foot—so you have time to finish a complete rhythmic structure—then change very quickly,” she says.

In order to gain what Salsberg calls “serviceable, loose feet,” necessary for tap, a dancer must allow the feet to follow the legs. The tendency for a new tapper is to want to control the ankle joints. Salsberg offers students the image of two bungee cords hanging from the ceiling and attaching to each hip bone. This gives a lift in the body, which frees the legs and prevents the lower back from swaying, without tightening up. “Although you use muscles in tap,” she says, “You don’t consciously muscle your way into sound. People who work muscularly tend to be very stiff. The trick is letting go.”

Salsberg first discovered tap as an adult when choreographer/film director Matthew Diamond asked her to tap in a dance he was choreographing. But her late introduction to tap has only amplified her teaching career. “I remember how I learned everything,” she says, “and I remember if it was a successful way of learning, or if I had to undo it six years later.” Here, Salsberg demonstrates a basic paddle and roll without using the familiar “digs” or “spanks”—language she feels inhibits students’ speed and efficiency.

After dancing with Toronto Dance Theatre for seven years, Germaine Salsberg moved to New York City, where she studied tap with Bob Audy, Charles Kelley and Danny Daniels. Salsberg was part of the Broadway production and national tour of The Tap Dance Kid, assisting Daniels and training the young dancers in the show. A tap instructor in New York for over 20 years, Salsberg currently teaches at Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, American Tap Dance Foundation and the summer program at New York University. She also performs, directs and choreographs for her Manhattan-based tap company, Les Femmes.

Shelby Kaufman, from Michigan, and Jill Kenney, from Rhode Island, dance with Les Femmes and are Salsberg’s teaching assistants.

------

Photo by Ramon Estevanell at Broadway Dance Center in New York City.

 

News
Getty Images

It can be tricky to get away for a conference, whether due to travel budget concerns or finding a substitute to cover your absence. One silver lining of the pandemic is that five conferences are now available online, no travel necessary. You'll find sessions to address your concerns no matter what your role in the dance community—whether you're on the business side, interested in curriculum development, need continuing ed certification, or a performer who wants to teach. Why not gather colleagues from your studio or school for an educational watch party to inspire you as you launch into the new school year?

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Talar compression syndrome means there is some impingement happening in the posterior portion of the ankle joint. Other medical personnel might call your problem os trigonum syndrome or posterior ankle impingement syndrome or posterior tibiotalar compression syndrome. No matter what they name it—it means you are having trouble moving your ankle through pointing and flexing.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Scott Robbins, Courtesy IABD

The International Association of Blacks in Dance is digitizing recordings of significant, at-risk dance works, master classes, panels and more by Black dancers and choreographers from 1988 to 2010. The project is the result of a $50,000 Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

"This really is a long time coming," says IABD president and CEO Denise Saunders Thompson of what IABD is calling the Preserving the Legacy and History of Black Dance in America program. "And it's really just the beginning stages of pulling together the many, many contributions of Black dance artists who are a part of the IABD network." Thompson says IABD is already working to secure funding to digitize even more work.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.