Learning to Dance Like Emma Stone: My La La Land Tap Dance Lesson
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Arriving in Covent Garden on a cloudy Friday morning, it didn’t quite feel like I was arriving in the glitz and glam of in sunny LA, but stepping into Pineapple Dance Studios made me feel that little bit closer.
Passing filled dance studios of flamenco, break dance, and fitness classes, this building was full of incredible dancers, and it was pretty surreal in itself to be in the prestigious Pineapple Dance Studios.
As an Irish dancer myself, I hoped that I might find some similarities between Irish and tap so that I wouldn’t totally embarrass myself. Taught by tapper Adele Joel, I quickly discovered that there was much to be learned from this elite dancer.
Changing into the tap shoes I instantly felt like Bambi. The small heel on the shoe felt totally unnatural to my foot, which is used to a flatter, hard Irish dancing shoe. Starting off with some basic technique and simple tap beats, I really struggled to straighten up my feet and keep them parallel (after being told my whole life that your feet must be as turned out as a penguin in Irish Dancing).
As if that wasn’t hard enough, next came the arms. Oh the arms. It’s a running joke in the Irish dancing community that we all struggle to use our arms in any other kind of dancing because we’re trained to keep them glued to our sides and to move them even the slightest bit means to face the wrath of your dance teacher. Once I came to the realisation that I could detach my forearms from my sides I tried to loosen up a bit and embody my inner Emma Stone.
Starting off at a slower paced version of the music, I eventually picked up the basic steps (and even the arms!) and found that I was able to dance the choreography with a little more jazz.
Gradually the music picked up the pace until, eventually, we danced it at full speed. I may have been watching Adele for guidance the whole time, and I may not have danced with quite as much flare as Emma Stone did, but it was as close as I’ll ever get to having my own Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers-esque tap sequence (please don’t take that dream away from me).
If anything, what this class showed me (besides the fact that I am not cool enough to be a tap dancer) was just how much practice Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling must have put in to perfect this relatively short dance sequence. It took a lot to absorb this material in the short space of an hour, but to dance to with as much ease and passion as Ryan and Emma did? Well, that’s commitment right there.
My dream of tap dancing with Ryan Gosling may not be happening anytime in the near future, but this short class brought me that little bit closer.
Watch me give the steps a try in the video below.
La La Land is released on Digital Download May 8th and Blu-ray, Limited Edition Steelbook, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray & DVD May 15th.