Inside Tap Dance: Risa Mori

tap dance at city academy

Risa (centre) dancing with the Tap Dance Company

During the day I work in a university lab as a scientist researching cancer – which involves using maximum brain capacity and concentration for long hours. It is crucial for me that I have somewhere to express myself and clear my brain of a day filled with experiments and microscopes! For me, tap dance is a way to be creative, a good workout, a means of enjoying music and rhythm, and an opportunity to have fun with my fellow tappers.

I always danced as a child and juggled different styles. As I progressed through school I had to give some of them up but I still vividly remember performing in shows when I was young – it’s striking how I have so many memories from these when I can hardly remember anything else in my childhood.

Years ago now, I started tap dancing again with City Academy while I was studying for my PhD, as I needed the exercise and some sort of release during a stressful time in my academic life, and I haven’t looked back since. It was a pleasant surprise that I managed to pick tap dance back up so easily after so many years – the body really does remember.

I think anyone who’s ever put on a pair of tap shoes will understand the wonder and joy of being able to make noise just by walking!

The beauty of tap dance is how meticulously thought out these sounds need to be, especially when performing as a group – one step wrong and you can hear it. So we spend a lot of time as a group practising intricate patterns and the footwork choreographed by our tutor Jade, ensuring that the sound we make is clear, crisp and obviously in time with the music. It’s super satisfying when it all works out.

On show days, I still find it funny that other dance companies can hear us coming from miles away as we walk through the corridors en masse in our tap shoes – we really don’t like taking those shoes off! The company is great because as well as bringing together people from all walks of life as friends, we have formed a sort of ‘performing bond’ that’s different to anything you have with work colleagues or people in other parts of your life. When all the nerves are there and the adrenaline is flowing for a show, that is when we really come together.

The first show I did involved us all wearing light-up Christmas jumpers, starting off with our backs to the audience and then turning to reveal our twinkling selves – the reaction was hilarious! What was even funnier was the panic beforehand when we discovered that some of our jumpers refused to light up – the number of prop related malfunctions we’ve had. I’ve just done my fifth show and every single one comes with a different set of emotions and excitement.

Our tap dance company is accepting new members in January. To be part of the fun, see more here >>>