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Modern Tap Dictionary by Glenn Shipley, 1963

Modern Tap Dictionary
Glenn Shipley

At Tap Wonderland, we are fortunate to have a first edition of Modern Tap Dictionary, by Glenn Shipley, published in 1963 and printed by Dance Publications Company, Los Angeles. I presume the photograph on the cover is one of Mr. Shipley himself, but it’s difficult to specifically confirm this or much else about Glenn Shipley. Like so many others of the authors and record producers we include in Tap Wonderland's galleries, Mr. Shipley is very poorly represented on the Internet; a few copies of this book are for sale, his name is mentioned as a teacher along the way for this or that dance studio owner, but there is virtually no information about Mr. Shipley himself. I hope that by publishing this page, someone with more knowledge of Mr. Shipley’s career and life will contact me and help me expand this page. There are so many talented dancers, influential teachers and performers who are not properly chronicled on the Internet. So, if you can help with information about Glenn Shipley, please contact Tap Wonderland.

The original version of the Modern Tap Dictionary is a small, 36 pages, but informative book, listing and defining 174 Tap Dance terms alphabetically, for quick reference. The book is titled “Modern Tap Dictionary” but it strays beyond tap to offer definitions from other dance styles as well such as Fox Trot, Charleston, Samba, Suzi-Q, etc. Even Bump & Grind is in there. I guess since tap steps were so often part of larger choreography in theater dance and film, the author wanted to emphasize the importance of learning at least a little about each dance style.

Preface to The Complete Tap Dictionary by Glenn Shipley, 1980
Click to enlarge.

Actually, as a tap teacher, I have found this book quite helpful. I made a copy of the entire book and carry it all the time. As a collector, I have to protect my original. Sometimes, while creating new choreography, if I am not sure of the name of a step, I can look at this book and make sure I know what I am talking about.

I also have a revision of the book called "The Complete Tap Dictionary" by Glenn Shipley. In this volume, no publishing company is named but the copyright date is 1980. Basically it’s the same book, expanded to 90 pages, 337 terms and generally more information. I have taken the liberty of including a copy of the interesting and informative preface here. I hope no one minds. Please click and read if, if you like.

Here are some of the terms contained in Glenn Shipley's Tap Dictionaries. You can dig a little deeper still by visiting Vance's Fantastic Tap Dance Dictionary, Edited by Vance Holmes, which offers a similar list of dance terminology.

— Shinichi Matsumoto

Accent Ad Lib Anacrusis Arsis Balance
Ball Change Bandy Twist Bar Barrel Turn Beat
Bells Black Bottom Bop Boogie-woogie Break
Bridge Brush Buck Buck & Wing Buffalo
Bumps Cabriole Cake Walk Carryback Carryover
Catch Chaine Charleston Choreography Chug
Cincinnati Clap Clip Clogs Contrast
Cramproll Cross bar Cubanola Cut-Out Dance Notation
Dig Heel Direction Double Downstage Drag
Draw Drum Slap Duple Time Eccentric Essence
Falling Off The Log Flap Flap Tap Flea Hop Fouette Turn
Fox Trot Gallop Tempo Glide Graboff Grace Tap
Grapevine Grind Half Break Hand Clap Heel Change
Heel Click Heel Close Heel Cramp Heel Drop Heel Scuff
Hit R Toe With L Heel Heel Thump Heel Twist Heel tap Highland Fling
Hit R Heel with L Toe Hop Hop Clog Interlude Interval
Irish Jingle Jim Crow JItterbug Jive
Jump Jump Tempo Leap Legomania Lindy Hop
Lunge Measure Med Bounce Tempo Meter Military Dance
Modulation Nerve Roll Oblique Off-Beat One
Over The Top Parallel Travel Patter Pickup Pigeon Toes
Pivot Primary Accent Production Pull Pullback
Push Beat Railroad Rattle Reverse Turn Rhythm
Rhythm Buck Riff Riff Walk Riffle Retard
Roll Routine Rumba Samba Segue
Seven Shading Shag Shuffle Sissonne
Six Skid Slam Slap Slide
Slow Drag Tempo Snake Hips Soft Shoe Soft-Shoe Break Spank
Spot Step Stag Leap Stage Left Stage Right Stamp
Step Stomp Stop Time Suzi-Q Syncopation
Tag Tanglefoot Tango Tap Tacit
Tempo Terpsichore Thesis Three Tiller
Time Steps Toe-Back Toe-Drop Toe Stand Toe Tap
Touch Toe Transpose Trench Triple Triplet
Turns Two Two-Step Upstage Waltz
Waltz Clog Wings