According to "All About Tap," the soft shoe is characterized by "humor, wit, and delicate nature of the tapping performed with a very smooth and leisurely cadence". Soft shoe routines were performed by Fred Astaire in "Bandwagon" and other musicals, George Burns and Gracie Allen and others. You can perform your own soft shoe dance steps in the style of these masters
Going to the Left
When you start your soft shoe, remember to be light on your feet, even with your tap shoes on. Imagine that you're dancing in sand. Begin your soft shoe dance by stepping forward with your left foot and shuffling forward and diagonally with your right foot then step with your right foot. The ball change comes next when you put your weight back on your left foot then forward again on your right. The rhythm should sound something like this: "ba-DA-ba-da."
Going to the Right
You are going to be doing the same steps you did in Section 1, though starting with your right foot. Begin by stepping with your right foot to the side and shuffling with your left foot. Make sure you keep the same rhythm as above.
Going to the Left--with a Break
Now comes the twist in the soft shoe dance: the break. It begins the same as Section 1, but instead of doing a ball change, draw back your right foot, step in place with your left foot, shuffle forward with your right foot, step in place with your left foot, draw back with your right foot, step in place with your left foot and shuffle forward with your right foot. The rhythm is "ba DA ba DA ba DA ba DA ba DA."
You can continue the pattern with a break on the right as well. The main thing with soft shoe dances is that you can be leisurely and gentle. Think of keeping your steps low.
Marjorie Gilbert is a freelance writer and published author. An avid researcher, Gilbert has created an Empire gown (circa 1795 to 1805) from scratch, including drafting the gown's patterns by hand.