Title:
Materials for Providing Aesthetic Percussive Sound Which Minimize Damage to Flooring During Dancing, Exercise, or Performance
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Devices are disclosed that are attachable to or are integral with an existing shoe such that an audible percussive sound is heard upon impact of the shoe against a surface. Furthermore, the devices are composed of materials that minimize or avoid damage to flooring. The devices described act as substitute for conventional metallic taps or heavy wood performance shoes.



Inventors:
Le Vine, Jan F. (Chatsworth, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/688295
Publication Date:
07/12/2007
Filing Date:
03/20/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B5/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEONARD, MICHAEL L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NEW RIVER VALLEY INTELLECTUAL (BLACKSBURG, VA, US)
Claims:
1. 1-20. (canceled)

21. A material for producing audible percussive sound when attached to a portion of a footwear comprising: at least one material chosen from a multi-component resin, polyurethane resin, epoxy resin, polycarbonate, glass, or carbon fiber additives, wherein said material does not produce visible damage to flooring upon contact.

22. The material according to claim 21, wherein said material is a multi-component resin.

23. The material according to claim 21, wherein said material is a polyurethane resin.

24. The material according to claim 21, wherein said material is an epoxy resin.

25. The material according to claim 21, wherein said material is a polycarbonate.

26. The material according to claim 21, wherein said material contains glass and/or carbon fiber additives.

27. The material according to claim 21, wherein said material is capable of attaching to a heel portion or a toe portion of footwear.

28. The material according to claim 21, wherein said material is colorable.

29. The material according to claim 21, wherein said material is capable of casting or injection molding.

30. A material for producing audible percussive sound when attached to a portion of a footwear comprising: a tap connectable to a bottom surface of footwear; wherein said tap comprises at least one of a multi-component resin, polyurethane resin, epoxy resin, polycarbonate, glass, or carbon fiber additives; and wherein said tap does not produce visible damage to flooring upon contact.

31. The material according to claim 30, wherein said tap is attachable to a heel portion or a toe portion of said footwear.

32. The material according to claim 30, wherein said footwear comprises a tap shoe.

33. The material according to claim 30, wherein said footwear comprises a sports shoe.

34. The material according to claim 30, wherein said flooring is hardwood.

35. The material according to claim 30, wherein said tap comprises a planar surface connectable to said footwear using means for fastening that does not damage flooring upon contact.

36. The material according to claim 35, wherein said means for fastening includes one or more screws.

37. The material according to claim 35, wherein said planar surface is connectable to footwear such that the surface can receive a tap cover.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to devices for producing percussive sounds in footwear. More particularly, the present invention relates to percussive devices in footwear that minimize damage to flooring during dancing, exercise or performance.

2. Background of the Invention

Rhythmic dancing, and tap in particular, is a blend of the elements of African drumming and dancing and the techniques of European clog and step dancing. The rhythms of jazz music distinguish American tap dance from other kinds of dancing based on percussive footwork. The tap dance style of American theatrical dance is distinguished by percussive footwork that marks out precise rhythmic patterns on the floor. Some descriptive step names include brush, flap, shuffle, ball change, and cramp roll.

The origins of tap dancing are historic. Between the 1600's and early 1800's, tap evolved from European step dances like the jig and clog and a variety of secular and religious African step dances that were loosely labeled “juba” dances and “ring shouts.” Danced primarily by enslaved Africans or buck dancers, this blend of jig and juba was transferred to the minstrel stage, and there it was polished into something identifiable as “American tap dance.”

The early buck dancers used shoes with wooden soles and heels. “Split clog” tap shoes were used as early as 1920 and ever since. Split clogs are hardwood beech wood soles in three sections with beveled edges and honeycomb hollow wood heels that generated a solid tone but no after tones. Metal taps developed later and ultimately aluminum became the standard. There were also jingle taps used earlier which were metal taps with a washer loose under the tap for more sounds. The development of this dance was echoed in the venues where tap dancing was performed.

At present, special floors and floor coverings are needed to avoid damage by conventional metal taps. This greatly restricts access and participation in this form of dancing. Many schools and even dance schools do not allow tap dancing in particular because of the damage to floors caused by the percussive steps and the metal taps.

Thus, the conventional use of metallic taps and its acceptance as a universal standard has had the opposite effects on the development of this type of dance form, namely limiting the participation to venues that are especially equipped with specialized flooring to handle the percussion from the metallic taps. At present, no true alternatives exist to the industry-standard metallic tap. This is at least partly because the accepted wisdom is that taps must be metal to produce acceptable sound. Those in the dance industry have accepted the limitations of the metallic tap and are limited to the strict requirements that a metallic tap needs, such as specialized flooring and specialized shoes.

Such venue-limitations to particular forms of dance because of the shoe itself are not limited to tap dancing. The Spanish flamenco utilizes a dance shoe which is generally not a single piece of metal on the bottom of the shoe, as in the tap shoe, but many tiny metal nails hammered around and over each other to make a practical solid metal on the bottom. These numerous nails can really damage floors that are not specifically designed to withstand percussion from such shoes. Also, the Irish step dance shoes (taps) are made of solid, heavy wood about 1½-2 inches thick, which can also damage floors that are not designed to withstand such percussion. Thus, there are many forms of dance that require a particular type of shoe to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the performance through rhythmic percussive sounds. But these sounds are typically made by the impact of metallic-tapped or heavy wooden shoes with the floor, which causes damage to any flooring that is not specially designed to withstand such impact.

Thus, a need exists in the art for an alternative to the conventional shoes and taps used for dancing, and particularly tap or rhythmic dancing, by using a less-damaging material than metal or heavy wood without losing the aesthetic percussive sounds and effects needed for such shoes and taps. Furthermore, the material for such taps should be easy to manufacture and produce on a large scale as well as apply to any shoe, particularly specialized tap shoes or other non-tap shoes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides taps fabricated from novel materials in the industry that minimize or avoid damaging floors and therefore open new venues for performance and training in tap and other percussive dance forms. The unexpected results of applying materials as described below to the bottom of shoes especially designed for producing sound has the advantage of producing such sound without the disadvantage of damaging flooring. Furthermore, the taps according to the present invention may be added to any rubber, wood or leather heels or toes of any shoe to produce rhythmic sound during walking, running or other physical activity, such as aerobics, STEP, or other routine exercise. The materials as used in various embodiments of the present invention allow for the addition of color to further enhance the choreography and visual effects of performances. Thus, the devices according to the present invention may be constructed of materials that are not damaging to floors as well as being in various colors to enhance the visual display of the performance. The exemplary taps according to the present invention were developed in contrast and in spite of the prevailing wisdom that taps should be metal to provide acceptable pleasing sound.

In one particular embodiment of the present invention, a device is disclosed for producing audible sound when attached to a portion of a footwear. The device includes a substantially planar surface connectable to a bottom surface of footwear and including material that produces an audible percussive sound upon contact of the bottom of the footwear against a flooring; and wherein the planar surface does not produce visible damage to the flooring upon contact during exercise.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a device is disclosed that includes a non-metallic tap connectable to a bottom surface of footwear and composed of a material that produces an audible percussive sound upon contact of the bottom of the footwear against a flooring; and wherein the non-metallic tap does not produce visible damage to the flooring upon contact.

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, a tap device is disclosed for a tap shoe. The tap device includes a non-metallic tap connectable to a bottom surface of a tap shoe and composed of a material that produces a percussive sound upon contact of the bottom of the tap shoe against a flooring; and wherein the tap does not produce visible damage to the flooring upon contact during routine tap dancing.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention offers an alternative to the conventional taps used in rhythmic dancing. Additionally, the present invention offers an added acoustic effect to traditionally rhythmic exercise routines, such as aerobics, STEP, running, walking and other exercises. Embodiments of the present invention utilize materials that minimize or prevent the necessity of using specialized flooring that will withstand damage during practice or performance using traditional metallic taps or heavy wooden shoes. In essence, the present invention seeks to allow rhythmic dancing performance and rhythmic exercise on virtually any flooring with reduced or without risk of damage to the flooring. The material used in the exemplary taps according to the present invention are such that they are compatible with flooring of virtually any material while still providing for the characteristic and aesthetic percussive sound that is part of the artistic display of rhythmic dancing performance or rhythmic exercises.

There are numerous approaches to practice the current invention which are within the purview of the skilled artisan after appreciating the invention as disclosed herein. Some of the exemplary embodiments will be described herein. Many other examples that are not specifically described herein are still within the scope of the present invention.

Heel and toe taps according to the present invention can be shaped to replace any metallic toe or heel taps conventionally available. Thus, the non-metallic taps made according to the present invention are a simple substitute for conventional metallic taps and can be designed to be the same size, shape and geometry, and need the same fixing device requirements (e.g., tacks, screws, fiberboard) as conventional taps. For example, conventional shapes for metallic toe and heel taps are provided by CAPEZIO (Totowa, N.J.). Many such taps are in a substantially planar shape with one or more screw or nail holes therethrough for fixing the tap to the underside of a shoe. However, the specific shape of the taps and the mode of fastening to the shoe do not restrict the practice of this invention. Taps may be formed from various materials and in various modes that replace metal taps designs. However, it is useful to insure that any screws used in fastening the taps, whether a one screw, three screw, four screw or other design, are recessed enough into the body of the tap such that the exposed screw head does not contact the floor and defeat a particular advantage of the invention, namely, minimizing or preventing damage to floors.

The methods of manufacture of devices according to the present invention are diverse. Casting, injection molding and other fabrication techniques can be used to fabricate taps from a broad range of materials. Metal taps are generally cast. Particular materials are used with sufficient hardness to produce percussive sounds and sufficient softness and resilience to minimize or avoid damaging the floor surfaces. The unexpected result of choosing materials with such properties to replace the conventional metal tap is part of the advantage of this invention. The selection of materials with hardness similar to resin and with similar resilience is beneficial. It is an added bonus that these materials can also be colored, which conventional metallic taps cannot.

In an exemplary embodiment, taps are cast in stationary open silicone molds from a premixed colored two-component cast urethane. These resins are available off the shelf. Many urethanes exist, some are for coatings and others are for casting. In this particular embodiment, a “casting” resin is utilized. There are numerous distributors and manufactures that may be used for such materials. EZ-LAST Polyurethane™ (TPC, Inc.) is an example of a particular material. Further, urethanes can be filled with fiber, like the epoxies as described below, and are used for automotive parts and other machine fabrication. There are literally thousands of combinations of materials that can be considered. After oven curing, the parts are trimmed and holes drilled out for use as replacements for the common aluminum taps. These taps can be used on vinyl and hardwood floors that would be damaged by regular metal taps. For larger volumes, rotating or cassette time molding with “on the fly” mixing of the resin increases the speed and therefore reduces costs. Color consistency comes with manufacturing large enough batches to allow accurate pigment measurements.

In another exemplary embodiment, two component epoxies are used to fabricate taps. Numerous examples of such epoxies are widely available off the shelf. For example, Polypoxy 1212™ with Polycure 1010™ (by PolyTek) may be used. Kona 871 (by Resin Technology Group, LLC) is another example. Here, casting is an important consideration. Various structural additives can increase the strength and durability of the taps including glass and carbon fibers. Such additives are used to balance sound production and avoid damage to floors. Examples in other fields are widely available. For example, manufacturers of electric and hybrid vehicles use composites to reduce weight. Body armor is also a composite. Wheels, drive systems and frames of bicycles are more examples.

In another exemplary embodiment, thermal plastics are used with injection molding to fabricate the taps. Polycarbonate type plastics are suggested but again there are many materials that may be used that have the combination of sound-production and minimal impact on flooring. Many examples are possible and readily available. The Calibre 300 series offered by Dow is an example.

Optionally, the exemplary taps according to the present invention are greatly enhanced by the use of protective covers. One example of such a cover is provided by U.S. Pat. No. 6,598,317, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety, and which teaches the use of covers for protecting the tap. The non-scratching taps of the current invention may be damaged by sand and grit from non-dance surfaces. Tap covers minimize this problem. The taps can easily be formed with notches to integrate the spacer design into the taps.

In all cases, dancer acceptance of the invention is enhanced by color. The various exemplary embodiments of the present invention have the additional advantage over conventional metallic taps in that they can be produced in various colors to enhance the performer's outfit or stage set. Blue and green have been found to be popular but color addition is not required to avoid damaging floors. Colored taps serve to enhance the choreography.

In addition to color, the heel areas may be equipped with light-emitting devices that emit a short burst of light upon impact. Such devices are typically used in children's shoes. Such light-emitting devices conventionally available may be made in the shape and with the materials as described herein for taps and thereby, not only acoustically, but also visually, enhance the overall effect of the dance performance.

In yet another unrecognized use, taps made according to the present invention may be positioned, for example, on the bottom of aerobics or STEP exercise shoes to enhance the acoustic effects of the exercise dance routines in modern gyms. An aerobics class full of attendees having taps on their aerobics shoes would enhance the aesthetic performance of the dance routine prepared by the instructor. Furthermore, it would allow the instructor an easier way of identifying the attendees who may be off-beat or need additional help in the dance routine. Similarly, any dance performance could use the acoustic sounds of the non-metallic taps of the present invention to assist the performers in memorizing the rhythms of the dance routine, even if the performance itself does not require a shoe that produces such sounds, such as when the dancers have soft ballet shoes or are bare foot. Other advantages of the present invention as presented in the various embodiments are within the purview of the skilled artisan and within the scope of the present invention.

The foregoing disclosure of the preferred embodiments of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many variations and modifications of the embodiments described herein will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in light of the above disclosure. For example, the present invention may also be used for other uses, such as the memorization of dance routines for cheerleaders practicing in a school gymnasium, which could be vinyl, hardwood or other. The scope of the invention is to be defined only by the claims appended hereto, and by their equivalents.

Further, in describing representative embodiments of the present invention, the specification may have presented the method and/or process of the present invention as a particular sequence of steps. However, to the extent that the method or process does not rely on the particular order of steps set forth herein, the method or process should not be limited to the particular sequence of steps described. As one of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate, other sequences of steps may be possible. Therefore, the particular order of the steps set forth in the specification should not be construed as limitations on the claims. In addition, the claims directed to the method and/or process of the present invention should not be limited to the performance of their steps in the order written, and one skilled in the art can readily appreciate that the sequences may be varied and still remain within the spirit and scope of the present invention.