UC Crew logo

the national award winning hip hop organisation

Tap Dancing and Break Dancing

Posted on 25 May, 2023

Similarities between Tap Dancing and Break Dancing

Break Dancing and Tap Dancing are both styles of dance that involve intricate footwork and rhythmic patterns. While they have distinct histories and styles, there are several similarities between the two.

Firstly, both Break Dancing and Tap Dancing require a high degree of technical skill and precision. In both styles, dancers must be able to execute complex footwork with speed and accuracy, while maintaining proper posture and balance to execute dance movement.

Secondly, both styles incorporate elements of improvisation and self-expression, rather than following a routine like Street Dance. In Break Dancing, dancers often freestyle and create their own movements and combinations on the spot, while in tap dancing, dancers may add their own rhythms and flourishes to existing steps and sequences, they both include elements of freestyle.

Finally, both Break Dancing and tap dancing have roots in African-American culture and have been used as forms of expression and resistance by marginalised communities. While the social and cultural contexts of these two dance styles are distinct, they both reflect the experiences and struggles of their communities and are still used today as an escapism from day-to-day life, to improve well-being or create a new identity as a dancer, bboy or bgirl.

Overall, while break dancing and tap dancing have different histories and styles, they share several key similarities in terms of technical skill, improvisation, and cultural significance.

Tap Dancers that influenced Break Dancing and Break Dancers

Whilst Tap Dancing and Break Dancing are two distinct dance styles that have evolved separately, there are some similarities in their rhythmic and percussive elements.

There are some specific tap dancers who directly influenced Break Dancers and the Breaking cultural mindset, some famous tap dancers who have contributed to the development of Hip Hop culture more broadly are:

Sammy Davis Jr

Sammy Davis Jr was primarily known as an entertainer and actor, but Sammy was also an accomplished tap dancer who was known for his lightning-fast footwork and improvisational style. He was also one of the few African-American performers of his time to achieve mainstream success, paving the way for other artists to follow and may have inspired the footwork steps of Break Dancer in the 1970s and 1980s.

Nicholas Brothers

The flash and acrobatic style of the Nicholas Brothers may have inspired Break Dancer in incorporating moves, such as the James Brown Splits, turns, top rock steps and the set-up for knee drop.

Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly was another well-known film actor and dancer, Gene was known for his energetic and athletic tap dancing style, which incorporated elements of ballet and modern dance, which may have inspired some top rock steps utilised in Break Dancing in the 70s and 80s. You can see some similar movements in both video clips.

A Tap Dancer and Break Dancer working together


Streetswing.com, Sonny Watson, The Freshest Kids, Stylize Crew, Orchestra Wives, Australian Tap Dance Festival, The Pirate (Film), Gene Kelly - Some of his Greatest Work, Pauline the Salsa Dancer, Charlie Taps