Fierce footwork and female force! Video and lessons for grades 1-12

The following video, Rise Up, is inspired by Andra Day’s song of the same name. The Ladies were inspired to create a dance that focused on women’s rights and getting all people out to vote. Interspersed throughout the song are inspiring quotes from various strong female voices. Through movement, the tap dance you will see the Ladies perform illustrates the words and feelings of the song. The dancers in this video are Chloe Arnold, Maud Arnold, Anissa Lee, Assata Madison, and Orialis Ashley.
Meet Syncopated Ladies co-founders Maud and Chloe Arnold, and watch Rise Up in the below videos, produced in partnership with Steer PVD

About the Syncopated Ladies

Syncopated-Ladies-promo-1920x1080Syncopated Ladies is a female tap dance band widely known for their viral videos and founded by Emmy Nominated Choreographer, Chloe Arnold. Chloe was discovered at a young age in Washington, DC by Debbie Allen, and her choreography has been featured on hit television shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, Good Morning America, The Ellen Show, The Talk, and over 30 episodes of The Late Late Show with James Corden. As part of the FirstWorks Raise Your Voice initiative, the Ladies performed at PVDFest 2019 and conducted a tap dance assembly for students at the Mary E. Fogarty Elementary School in Providence.

Learn More: Tap Workshop with Syncopated Ladies

The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees all American women the right to vote. It was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920. FirstWorks celebrates the 101st anniversary of the Amendment with a workshop by the Syncopated Ladies on Thursday, June 4 at 1:00 PM – now available to stream – WATCH NOW


  1. Tap shoes or sneakers if you do not have tap shoes
  2. Portable tap floor, or, a hard floor surface such as linoleum. Try to avoid asphalt and concrete so that you do not put too much pressure on your knees and ankles.
  3. Water bottle filled with water to stay hydrated
  4. Small towel to wipe your face
  5. Eagerness to learn and have fun!
  6. Your smile

Whether you actively participate, or simply watch, we guarantee a moving and inspiring experience!

Lessons for Grades 1-12:

ACADEMICS (Grades 1 – 12): Dance, PhysEd/Cognitive Skills, History, English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Visual Arts, Music Composition, Social Emotional Learning (SEL)



HP 1 – 1a – d: Students act as historians, using a variety of tools (e.g., artifacts and primary and secondary sources) by:

  1. formulating historical questions, obtaining, analyzing, evaluating historical primary and secondary print and non-print sources;
  2. explaining how historical facts and historical interpretations may be different, but are related;
  3. identifying, describing, or analyzing multiple perspectives on an historical trend or event;
  4. using technological tools in historical research.

HP3:  Analyze how a historical development has contributed to current social, economic, or political patterns.

  • Synthesize information to convey how the past frames the present and make personal connections in an historical context.

HP5: Critique the role and contribution of various cultural elements in creating diversity in a society.

G2: Apply geographical concepts, skills, and tools to examine the human-made and physical characteristics of places to interpret the past, address the present, and plan for the future.

C & G – 1-2: Analyze how actions of a government affect relationships between individuals, society, and the government.

C & G – 3-1: Evaluate and defend positions regarding personal and civic responsibilities of individuals, using provisions in seminal documents.


English Language Arts (ELA)

Reading Informational Text:

RI.8-9-10: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid, and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

RI.1 – 11-12: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RI.2 – 11-12: Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI.8-11-12: Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy.


W.9b – 9-10: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research to literary nonfiction.

W.9b – 11-12: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research to literary non-fiction.


L.2 – 9-10a-c: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

L.1-11-12a-b: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  1. Apply the understanding that usage is a matter of convention, can change over time, and is sometimes contested.
  2. Resolve issues of complex or contested usage, consulting reference as needed.

L.2-11-12a-b: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.



1.MD2: Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object (the length unit) end to end; understand that the length measurement of an object is the number of same-size length units that span it with no gaps or overlaps.

2.NBT9: Explain why addition and subtraction strategies work, using place value and the properties of operations. (Explanations may be supported by drawings or objects.)

2.MD1: Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.

2.G1: Recognize and draw shapes having specified attributes, such as a given number of angles or a given number of equal faces. Identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes. (Sizes are compared directly or visually, not compared by measuring.)

3.NF2: Understand a fraction as a number on the number line; represent fractions on a number line diagram.

3.MD5a: Recognize area as an attribute of plane figures and understand concepts of area measurement.

3.G1: Understand that shapes in different categories may share attributes, and that the shared attributes can define a larger category.

4.G1: Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.

5.G3: Understand that attributes belonging to a category of two-dimensional figures also belong to all subcategories of that category. For example, all rectangles have four right angles and squares are rectangles, so all squares have four right angles.

5.G4: Classify two-dimensional figures in a hierarchy based on properties.

6.G1: Find the area of right triangles, other triangles, special quadrilaterals, and polygons by composing into rectangles or decomposing into triangles and other shapes; apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.

7.G6: Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms.

A woman wearing a head wrap and large hoop earrings singing into a microphoneAndra Day, born Cassandra Monique Batie, is a singer, songwriter and actress. Growing up in San Diego, she began singing at her church and also started dance lessons at age 5; subsequently graduating from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. She has performed with Stevie Wonder, who is credited with “discovering” her.

Her debut album, Cheers to the Fall, was released in 2015 with a tour the following year. The album peaked at number 48 on the Billboard 200 chart. At the 2016 Grammy Awards, it was nominated for Best R&B Album and the album’s main single, Rise Up, was nominated for Best R&B Performance. Its power as a freedom song recalls those embraced during the Civil Rights Movement. She performed the song at the White House in 2015 and at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Day has also performed at the Newport Jazz Festival in both 2017 and 2018. A social activist, she sang on the Academy Award-nominated song Stand Up For Something with Common and opened the 2018 March For Our Lives rally by singing with the Baltimore Children’s Choir.  Day has said that the song was never written as an anthem, even though it has been embraced widely by activist communities. She explained its meaning by stating, “‘Rise Up’ is saying one piece isn’t better than the other—when this part is struggling, I’m gonna help you. ‘Rise Up’ is telling you we are all equal.”


A man in a top hat and tuxedo tap dancing in a spotlightBroadway legend Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was born Luther Robinson in Richmond, Virginia, on May 25, 1878. He started his career as a vaudeville performer, transitioning to Broadway and to Hollywood films in the 1930s and 1940s. His delicate tap dance style and cheerful demeanor made Robinson a favorite of audiences of all races. He died in New York City on November 25, 1949.

National Tap Dance Day falls on May 25th every year and is a celebration of tap dance as an American art form. The idea of National Tap Dance Day was first presented to U.S. Congress on February 7, 1989 and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on November 8, 1989.

The date is significant in that it is the birthdate of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (1878-1949), the famous and beloved tap dancer from the first half of the twentieth century. His upright style of dancing, with light and exacting footwork, brought tap “up on its toes” from an earlier flat-footed shuffling style.

National Tap Dance Day has become an international day of note as it is also celebrated in other countries, including Japan, Australia, India, Iceland, Germany, France, Brazil, Estonia, and, undoubtedly, among many others.


Lesson #1: Rise Up and Still I Rise

Some listeners have compared Andra Day’s song Rise Up to Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise.

Read the poem in the Resource Materials: Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.

  • • Ask students if they see the similarities?

Have students read Andra Day’s lyrics to Rise Up found in the Resource Materials: Rise Up.

  • • Have students write an essay explaining the meaning behind these words of the poem and the song. Be sure to discuss the similarities between poetry and songwriting. Be sure to compare and contrast each artist’s use of language and meaning.


Lesson #2: Bill “Bojangles” Robinson

This video and set of lessons are presented in celebration of National Tap Dance Day, occurring annually on May 25 in honor of tap dancer Bill Robinson’s birthday. A brief biography is included in the Resource Materials: Biographies section.

  • • Have students expand upon that biography by doing research of your own online, in books, and by watching some of his movies.


Lesson #3: Suffragette History

The word suffrage is defined as “right to vote and to exercise that right by the action of voting”. As we learned in the lesson, There Suddenly Arose, the fight for equal voting rights has been many years in coming. In the Resource Materials: Remember the Ladies section, read about Abigail Adams’ and her husband John Adams’ deeply divided views on equal voting rights.  Then, read the Resource Materials: History of Women’s Suffrage in RI and Resource Materials: 19th Amendment.

  • • What conclusions can you make from these materials about prejudice, power, and human rights? Look up the definitions of each to make sure that you understand the meaning of each.
  • • Write an essay on your thoughts of how the United States might have been shaped differently if these rights had been in place at the beginning of our country’s history.


Lesson #4: Visual Thinking Strategies

Show students the image found in Resource Materials: Suffragettes Marching.

  • • Ask students to silently look closely at the image for about two minutes.
  • • Ask students, “What is happening in the picture?” In order to keep the conversation flowing, summarize students’ responses using conditional language. For example, “Maria thinks this looks like…”.
  • • Encourage students to explain their statements by explaining what it is in the picture that leads them to their conclusions.
  • • Avoid inserting information, but, encourage students to reason out their responses.
  • • Compare and contrast what each student sees. Ask them, “What more can we find?”
  • • This exercise encourages critical thinking. Then, go on to a discussion about the facts of the image, inserting students’ responses.


Lesson #5: Are You Registered to Vote?

In the State of Rhode Island, while you must be at least 18 years old to vote, you can register at the age of 16. For specific information, visit the RI Secretary of State website for more information:


Lesson #6: Tap & Math

Tap dancing is mathematical with rhythms, patterns and phrases (a term used in the dance world for a series of movements linked together to make a distinctive pattern). The following lesson may require help from a parent or guardian for set up.

  • • Using low tack painter’s tape, on a floor or other hard smooth surface used to walk on, tape out a square that measures 24” on all four sides.

For younger children, mark the center of each side, noting the 12” mark. Also mark in 3” increments, so they understand length and distance.

If more than one child is participating, tape out a square for each child with at least 3” spaces in between.

Chalk can be used on cement or driveways.

  • • ***Do not use any other type of tape as it may stick permanently and ruin the surface of the floor.
  • • Explain to the students that they will be creating shapes and patterns with their feet inside the squares.
  • • Start out by having students tap in the middle of their square. Ask them then to move their left foot to the edge of the square. How much of the square is now taken up?
  • • Then, go through a series of the following movements, each time asking them the ratio/percentage of the square they are taking up:
    • - Left foot to left edge, right foot to right edge
    • - Both feet moved to the left.
    • - Right foot moved to back edge.
    • - And, so on…
  • • If more than one child is at home, have them partner up and mirror each other’s movements.
  • • Once they get the hang of things, have them create their own movements, stringing them into a series of phrases.
  • • What shapes have they created? Rectangles, triangles?
  • • Have students draw out shapes to replicate in their squares.
  • • Can they do this to the rhythm of a beat? Consider combining this lesson with Lesson #7: Tap Your Name.


Lesson #7: Tap Your Name

Patterns and codes can be found all around.

  • • One at a time, have each student spell their name out loud, tapping on every consonant.
  • • Do they see a pattern emerging? Have them mark it down in their notebooks or on a large piece of paper.
  • • Then, have the students repeat the process, but, now tapping on each vowel. Mark down that pattern.
  • • Have them work independently putting each pattern in different order until they are pleased with the sound and/or movement.
  • • When students are focused on consonant taps, encourage them to clap on vowels, and, vice versa. Students who participate in Step Clubs or Cheerleading Clubs, may be familiar with these activities. Encourage them to help other students who may be having difficulty.
  • • See how it sounds when all students tap their first names together.
  • • See how it sounds when all students tap their last names together.

The combinations are endless!