Step Clogging and Clog Dancing
British Clog Dancing
Clog dancing or step dancing is at least two hundred years old and was performed throughout Britain but survived the longest in the northern counties, the Lake District and North East of England. The steps are beats of the heels and toes on the ground interspersed with swivelling and swinging movements of the ankles and legs at times at great speed .
People probably performed the dances for their own enjoyment in crowded pubs for example where the performer would make up the steps as he went along or repeat some favourite sequences. The steps and sequences of steps have names such as Shuffle, Double Treble Shuffle, Long Sidestep, Crunch, Swivelling Crunch and Hagworm Crawl. In these early days people didn’t travel far from their villages and towns and consequently different parts of the country have their own characteristic style and steps.
The original step dancing was performed in hard soled shoes or clogs but these days clogs are more common. The clogs worn by Cornucopia today are no different to the traditional clog, which was still in everyday use right up to 40 years ago. The sole is carved wood with a leather upper attached to the sole by brass nails around the edge. Clogs worn for dancing sometimes had patterns marked in the leather or were made of more than one colour – the usual colour was and still is black.
Appalachian Step Clog Dancing
Appalachian-style clog dancing is called step clogging and is closely linked to traditional old-time American music. In fact, the dance becomes part of the music, as the sound of the dancers’ feet creates a driving, rhythmic background to the old-time tunes. Step clogging is an American folk dance that has its origins in the southern Appalachian mountains of the United States of America. While it has strong ties to the step dance of the British Isles brought to the region by European settlers, clogging is also influenced by the traditional dance of Native Americans, and the solo “buck & wing” dance of African Americans.
Appalachian Step Clog Dancing is a misnomer, since in the USA it is not performed in clogs but in tap shoes.
Appalachian step clogging can still be found in western North Carolina, West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, and other places in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Interest in Appalachian dance was significantly revived in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s by the Green Grass Cloggers. Cloggers in this style dance only to live music: either string band music of the southern Appalachian Mountains, typically featuring fiddle, banjo, and guitar; or to bluegrass music.