The Cincinnati is a traveling tap step that got its name on a vaudeville stage in Cincinnati, Ohio. This step is also referred to as the “back to the woods” step.
The Cincinnati is an advanced tap step, so it will take a little bit of patience to master. Once you have it down, though, this step is definitely impressive (and way cooler than any party trick if you want to show off to your friends). If you break it down, the Cincinnati is done in sets, left and right. A full Cincinnati step is two sets, but depending on what you’re doing, you may need to do more. Each set has six basic steps, a heel dig, a spank, a heel drop, a shuffle, another heel drop, and a step. Once you’ve mastered one side, learning the other side is simple! It’s the same sequence from the opposite side. (For the purposes of this tutorial we’re going to start from the right side.) It is also important to note that the direction that the Cincinnati travels is backward.
(You can see the full step done above. To watch the whole video click here.)
This is the easiest of the six steps. All you do is put your right foot out in front of you (when you move on to the second set, you’ll put out the opposite foot) with your toe in the air and your heel on the floor as though your heel is “digging” into the ground.
Bring the foot that you are using to heel dig back behind you, spanking the floor with your toe. Once it comes up behind you, keep it in the air.
After your leading foot (the foot that you started with for this set) comes up after the spank, you are going to drop your opposite heel. All this means is that you will lift up onto the toe of that foot and drop back down onto your heel.
After the heel drop, you will shuffle your leading foot (At this point, your leading foot is up behind you from the spank.) out to the side. After you shuffle, your foot should come up behind you again.
Just like before, come up onto the toe of your opposite (non-leading) foot and drop back down onto your heel.
After you drop your heel, you are going to step back onto your leading foot (the one in the air). This will lead you into the next set on the opposite side.
The Next Set
After you move through these six steps, you will have completed a set and will then move on to the second set on the opposite side to complete a full Cincinnati step. After you step back to end the first set, your opposite foot will come up into a heel dig (this is your new leading foot). From there, you will do a spank, a heel drop, a shuffle, another heel drop, and a step just like before but opposite from the way you did it before.
Dos and Don’ts
- Practice with your hands on your hips for added balance while you learn the step.
- Practice slowly. The Cincinnati is a fairly complicated step. If you practice it slowly and work on going faster as you get a hang of the step, it will be easier.
- Practice both sides equally. You don’t want to only be able to do half of the step! Make sure to practice both sides.
- Get discouraged. Because it is advanced and complicated, it will take time to learn this step.
- Move too fast. You will get faster after you learn the step. If you rush yourself, it will take longer to learn.