Tap dance is a type of dance, in modern terms, that is performed wearing shoes fitted with metal taps and involves the rhythmical tapping of toes and heels, and sometimes quite complex foot work.
There are two main forms – jazz or rhythmical and Broadway. Rhythmical tap focuses on musicality and sometimes had softer shoes, and made use of the noises generates with slides and even used sand on stage to emphasise this. Broadway tap is probably the more familiar – and focuses on the dance element, as seen in musical theatre.
It’s a fusion style of dance with its history and roots going into African Tribal Dance as well as English, Scottish, and Irish Clog dancing. In the mid 20th Century dancers brought their own elements into this form of dance. Fred Astaire for example combined tap with ballroom, whereas Gene Kelly introduced elements of ballet to his tap.
Tap dance makes use of syncopation – the displacement of beats where a strong beat becomes weak in a tap, and vis-a-versa. It also usually starts on the 8th count.
Examples of tap can be seen in Happy Feet, Singin’ in the Rain, 42nd Street, Stomp, as well as more modern takes – Youtube has some fabulous performers – Christopher Rice – check this out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAU8eBek_NU