Come Wander

Have you ever caught a Riverdance performance and wished you were up on stage, your feet flying, arms swinging, and heart hammering to the beat of an Irish fiddler? Stepdancing is magical to watch and even more fun to perform.

If you’ve ever dreamed of learning to step dance but didn’t know where to start, there is one Pembroke area fiddler, singer-songwriter and step dancer extraordinaire who is here to help. Pembroke’s April Verch is a big believer that you can do anything you put your mind to, and she should know. April has been stepdancing since she was three and playing the fiddle since she was six and has spent her life working towards the goal of becoming a professional musician.

Read on and learn how to step dance like a pro with April’s help your feet will be flying in no time. Watch this video of April doing her thing to get you in the stepdancing mood. If you’re ready to launch yourself full scale into stepdancing, April also offers a stepdancing how-to video for sale on her website.

Getting Started

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about stepdancing, so April has some tips for before you run out and buy tap shoes and a full stage to practice on.

  • You don’t need tap shoes! Find a shoe with a low to medium heel and a hard sole.
  • Traditionally stepdancers dance on plywood, but you can do it on anything, including linoleum, wood, or tile floors. (tip: watch out for scuff marks!)
  • You only need a four-foot by four-foot area to begin dancing.
  • No special clothing is required, just something that you are comfortable in and allows you to move freely.
  • Find fiddle music at a slow reel (that’s in 4:4 time) to dance to while you are first learning.

Remember that in the Ottawa Valley style of stepdancing, you remain on the balls of your feet which can make it difficult to keep your balance – try holding onto the back of a chair at first, or keep one foot planted for some extra support. Also, every step gets performed twice, first starting with the right foot, then repeated, but starting with the left foot.

Learn the Shuffle

The shuffle is the base for everything associated with stepdancing so it’s a good idea to take the time to practice it until all of the sounds you create with the step are consistent. April’s instructions are easy to follow, or you can watch the YouTube video and follow along from there.

  1. Start with your right foot and pick it up and make a small kick “out” so that it brushes the floor, then pull it back “in” to brush the floor again, and then put it down on the ball of your foot to “step.” As you do this, say either “out, in, step” or “shuf-fle-step” and with each syllable you should have a sound on the floor. The video included below will show you how to do this.
  2. Practice the shuffle on your right foot, then your left foot, and then alternating feet. Start slowly, and gradually pick up the pace. Stay balanced, but loose. You don’t have to do anything in particular with your arms, just be natural and comfortable.
  3. Once you are finding that your shuffle is fairly consistent, turn on your music and shuffle in time, alternating feet.

Learn Your First Step

Now that you’ve mastered the shuffle, it’s time to dance your very first step. This is the first step to a routine called the “Basic Reel” which is a common routine teachers in the Ottawa Valley teach to new stepdance students. Try out the instructions below and then follow along with April’s YouTube video demonstration, above.

  1. Say the step out loud as you do it, and even as practice when you aren’t dancing.
  2. Say out loud “shuffle one, shuffle two, shuffle three, step, step.”
  3. With your right foot do “shuffle one” (one being the step), with your left foot do “shuffle two,” with your right foot “shuffle three” and then “step” (on the ball of your foot only) with your left foot, and then “step” with your right foot.
  4. Repeat everything again, but starting with your left foot this time.

Congratulations, you’ve now completed your very first step and are on your way to becoming a stepdancing master.

About April Verch

Fiddler, singer, and stepdancer April Verch, has been pursuing her goal of becoming a professional musician for most of her life. Best known for her stepdancing and for playing traditional fiddle styles from the Ottawa Valley, April’s performances also extend into old-time American, Scandinavian styles and beyond. April was the first woman to win both the Canadian Grand Masters and the Canadian Open Fiddling Championships, and has received Juno, Canadian Folk Music and Independent Music awards and nominations. In 2000, April formed The April Verch Band, and together the band has toured the world, bringing a bit of the Ottawa Valley to over 18 different countries.

Bonus: You can purchase some fun merchandise (or Verchandise as it’s called on her website!) or one of her many albums from April’s online store.


The Artist’s Way

Who says art can only be found in big galleries or urban showrooms? To find fantastic local and Canadian art you need to head to the places that inspire artists to create, and Ontario’s Highlands is among the most beautiful places in Ontario (in our humble opinion). Beyond the inspiration found in the rugged hills […]

Big Attractions in Ontario

Are you the type to pull over when you see a comically large roadside attraction, or a picture-perfect spot to snap a few shots? Amateur photographers and Instagrammers alike can agree that a giant ice cream cone, a massive mural adorning the side of a building, or a full-size replica of a jet plane are […]

Ground to Glass

Discover how four craft drink makers harness Mother Nature’s flavours to elevate their beverages in Ontario’s Highlands.

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Lennox & Addington

Known for its pristine wilderness, incredible views and rugged natural spaces, the majestic beauty of Lennox & Addington speaks to the wanderer inside us all. From the craggy peak of Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park to the starry skies overhead, there is wonder waiting to be discovered here, a vivid reminder of how our […]

Hello Summer! Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

We are happy to see that summer is in full swing here in Ontario’s Highlands, and even happier now that we have seen the lifting of many restrictions here in Ontario. After months of staying home we are eager to get out and stretch out legs and imaginations in a region made for discovery. This […]

Dark Skies, Starry Nights

Have you ever wondered about the mysterious realm outside our planet? Maybe you’ve wanted to roam the galaxy, travel among the stars, and get a new perspective on the universe. For now, stargazing is as close to it as us ‘average humans’ can get! Luckily there are still places to getaway, where the view of […]

Get in Step

April Verch, fiddler, singer-songwriter and step dancer extraordinaire teaches the basics of stepdancing.

Exhale and Unwind

Experience a slice of farm life at Dwyer’s Farmhouse in the Ottawa Valley.

Discover Hidden Gems

Feed your curiosity and explore the diverse geology of Ontario’s Highlands at these Recreational Geology locations.

Shine at Giving this Holiday Season

Today’s craft markets are full of fresh, hip products made by creative and talented makers. This holiday season, go above and beyond by picking up handmade items with a story to tell at one of these Ontario holiday markets.

Art in the Summer

Celebrate creativity at art festivals across Ontario’s Highlands this summer.

3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

Batter up!

Get a behind the scenes look into the world of baseball at Sam Bat.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Find out where to appease your creative side on this Creative Cruiser road trip.

The Creative Cruiser

I’m a Creative Cruiser. I wander with a desire to feed my curiosity, to follow my passions, and to grow from my discoveries.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Hidden Gems

Seven charming museums in Ontario’s Highlands.

Where Am I?

Visit the Petawawa Heritage Village, where you can step back in time and explore the lives of those who wandered long ago.

Where Am I?

Discover a rich history and an even richer geology at the Beryl Pit in the Ottawa Valley.

Where Am I?

Discover breathtaking beauty blasted from the Earth at Marmora Mine in Ontario’s Highlands.

Where Am I?

Discover the story of the earth at the Bonnechere Caves in Eganville, Ontario.

Locals Know Best: Art & Culture

Discover the best spots to learn about the vibrant culture and hidden gems in Ontario’s Highlands through the locals themselves.