EDS & Tap Dance
Come shuffle along and see what it's like to be a Tap Dancer with Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos!
Ehlers Danlos and dance are commonly talked about together. HOWEVER, most if not all of the research that I've seen always are about Ballet or Modern. While there are of course overlapping commonalities, there are also very different techniques amongst dance styles.
I am trained in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Musical Theatre, Tap, and Hip Hop. While I did Ballet for 20 years, it is not my forte. While I LOVE any chance I get to dance (no matter the style), Tap and Hip Hop are my two loves.
If you are a Tap dancer, or know a bit about the history, you might know that there are really two types of Tap; Broadway vs. Rhythm. I do the latter! Rhythm Tap (sometimes referred to as Hoofing) is much more about the musicality and treating your feet as a percussion instrument.
Why is that important? Well unlike other styles, I don't really need to rely on upper body strength. The focus is purely on my feet, which in turn has some pros and cons when it comes to EDS!
PROS of EDS & Tap
- Less upper body pain
- Able to dance for a longer length of time
- Easily able to modify to a chair
- Lots of adaptions for disabilities (like using your hands as tap shoes on a table or hard surface)
- Loose ankles are a positive thing in Tap!
- Uses more smaller movements than other styles
- Less likely to have big falls (no big jumps most of the time)
- Foot support; you can put an orthotic in your tap shoe!
CONS of EDS & Tap
- Foot/toe pain is more frequent
- Lots of small jumps/weight shifts which is not easy on unstable ankles
- Always on your feet & fully weight barring (unless an accommodation is made)
- Tendency to look down; causing neck issues
- Sprained/twisted ankles are more common with certain movements
- Heeled tap shoes are more risky with injuries (I have both an oxford style and heeled style of shoes, but the heels barley make it out anymore)
- Can increase hip and lower back pain if tapping too heavy
- Easy to slip!
Here's a little video of me just messing around at the studio:
If you are having difficulties with ankle stability, I highly recommend taping prior to tapping. If I know I am going to have a longer tap day (doesn't happen very much anymore!) I will tap my ankles to help create stabilization.
Injury Story Time!
When I was working at Disney, I got to perform a Tap Solo at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. This was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. EXCEPT that it was the biggest recipe for injury.
I chose to wear my heeled tap shoes. Not only are they a bit too big, but my ankles are so much less stable in these than my regular tap shoes.
During performances, I naturally get very shaky legs.
I had one run-through on the stage before the performance and it went okay - then before the show, they waxed the stage.
So what I happened? I was slipping all over the stage and didn't think to modify any movements. I thought they would get mad if I changed anything, so I just went for it. My ankle went completely sideways, pretty much a 90 degree angle. You know the videographers are professionals though because they stopped using the camera on my feet😂 It was swollen and bruised after, but I never went to the doctor because at that point I was very used to ankle injuries.
I debated posting this video on here because at the time I was so embarrassed. I remember in the moment thinking, do I just walk off the stage mid-way? How am I supposed to do this on a waxed floor? Are they going to get mad that I'm doing poorly? I've fallen on stage, been dropped on stage, gotten kicked in the face on stage, but this was the most insecure I have ever felt. I stopped listening to my music and was rushing to try to get through. Now I can watch the video and go, well of course I was on the hot mess express and I injured myself! The odds were not in my favor!
Please enjoy the video of me being a penguin, sliding on the floor, and trying not to fall on my face. I have the professional video version, but this version is better because the camera doesn't cut away when my ankle goes sideways! (it's at 1:30)
Or here's a blurry picture😂
I'm going to try to write a post about each of the styles and the Pros & Cons I've experienced with each. Maybe you're a dancer with EDS like me, or maybe you want to start learning and are looking for the right fit for your body! Which should I write about next?!
Stay Kind. Be Brave. Much Love.