About Shoe Reviews: For my reviews I personally wear, practice and perform in the shoes. The demands the shoes are subjected to are rigorous and must be considered when compared to the skill level that the shoe is intended for.
Capezio Boy’s Tapster
Described as an “entry level unisex oxford”, though marketed as “boy’s”, the Tapster is a very popular shoe among beginning tap students. The Tapster has a look that resembles more advanced tap shoes and comes with several amenities not offered by other beginner level shoes found at department stores such as Payless. With a price tag ranging from $15-$30, the Tapster is an affordable tap shoe for beginner tap enthusiasts young and old.
Specifications for the Capezio “Boy’s” Tapster (from Capezio.com)
- Durable soft PU (Polyurithane/Plastic) Upper
- Plastic heel with pre-attached riveted Tele Tone Jr.® taps
- Cushioned foam insole with star print
- Absorbent brushed microfiber lining
- Plastic sole with rubber non-skid sole patch
- Achilles notch for comfort
- Available colors: Black, Tan
The Tapster: Deconstructed
Durable soft PU (Polyurithane/Plastic) Upper, Cushioned foam insole with star print, Absorbent brushed microfiber lining, Achilles notch for comfort, Rubber non-skid sole patch:
The polyurethane material used for the upper of the shoe is as soft and durable as the description says. The plastic upper is a good substitute for synthetic leather, and even resembles the real thing up close. The foam insole is relatively comfortable and the upper encases the entire foot, and foot slippage (where the foot slips out of the shoe) is a big improvement over the bargain bin Mary Jane style of tap shoe.
The Tapster has an Achilles’ notch in the back, which allows for the calcaneal tendon, or the “Achilles” tendon after the mythical Greek hero and his famous weakness. Located on the rear of the foot and running to just before the calf muscle, the Achilles notch allows the tendon to expand and contract freely, which it does every time you put weight on your foot. While providing constriction relief for some, an Achilles notch may make slippage a problem for taller dancers and dancers with large feet.
The rubber patch on the bottom provides good stability, while the brushed microfiber lining is just as comfortable with socks or without.
The blue, white and grey star pattern printed on the (styro)foam insert is a dead giveaway, and when I teach class a quick glance of the students shoes brings back memories of my time with the Tapster.
Plastic heel with pre-attached riveted Tele Tone Jr.® taps:
This statement is a tad ambiguous. The heel is indeed plastic and is quite large, though hollow inside, producing a tone superior to the “Payless” tap shoe. The heel tap is not riveted, as the title suggests, but screwed in. The first two screws were a pain to get off and I ground down the sprockets of the screw with my efforts. I wish the same could be said for the heel itself, which separated from the sole of both shoes after five months of use.
The front tap is riveted on and herein lies a problem. No extra layering is provided for screws, such as is the case with the heel, so rivets are used instead. A smooth dome caps the rivets that lie just underneath the insole under the foot, and once they popout… Thats it!
With a lot of effort you can pop them back in, but the hole has already been stretched or torn and you can bet that it will be popping out again any moment. This happened to a student of mine during the warm up, so he had to use street shoes the rest of the class since there is no way to reattach the front tap.
The Plastic Sole:
…Is more like a plastic covering. The sole” is a thin strip of shiny black plastic that covers the insole, which is made from sturdy pressed paper, is colored a dark pink and is what actually does most of the work. Pressed paper isn’t a bad thing. Sturdy, cheap and often made from recycled materials, the Tapster, pending an analysis of the glue used to hold the cushion to the insole, may classify as one of the few vegan shoes on the market. While I think that pressed paper works fine for this shoe, I feel that it is unnecessary to mislead the consumer about the construction of the sole, as the synthetic plastic is there mostly for the sake of aesthetics.
Another interesting omission from the features list is that of a shank installed between the in- and outsole. Shanks are inexpensive and provide good support without taking up much space.
Teachers! Want a fun magic trick? Bring some tiny, extra-strong magnets, found at your local Hobby Lobby or similar arts and crafts retail store, and when you spot a kid wearing Tapsters, stick the magnets on the soles of their shoes. Taa Daa!
The tone is very high pitched compared to all of the higher level shoes and when with a group of more experienced dancers with heavier shoes, it will sound noticeably tinny.
Capezio’s Tapster is a good beginner shoe that functions much better than the American Ballet Theatre endorsed, cheaper department store tap shoes and for only a few dollars more.
All the amenities that you would expect in a tap shoe are here and can give a beginning dancer the look and feel of a hoofer.
That being said, if you plan on continuing your tap education, you may soon find yourself replacing these shoes for want of a more authentic tap “sound” and “feel”.
Or your front tap fell off. Either way.
Photos by Adam Salinas (AdamSalinas.com)
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Tristan Bruns has studied the art form of tap dance with Donna Johnson, Ted Levy, Lane Alexander and Martin “Tre” Dumas and has a BA in Music from Columbia College Chicago. Tristan has been an ensemble member of such Chicago tap companies as BAM!, The Cartier Collective and MADD Rhythms. Tristan currently produces his own work through his company, TapMan Productions, LLC, which includes the performance ensemble The Tapmen and the tap and guitar “band” of The Condescending Heroes.