WHAT IS CLOGGING?
Clogging, or clog dancing, is a lively dance with roots
in Irish jig, English country dances, Scottish dances,
African steps and rhythms and possibly even a bit of
Cherokee Indian. It is a percussive dance, meaning the
dancers beat out rhythms with their feet. Settlers
brought their own dances and music to the Southern
Appalachian Mountain area, where they were relatively
isolated from other parts of the country. These steps
and styles mixed together into what we now call
Characteristic of clogging is the rhythmic beat that the
dancers’ feet are continually making. Traditional
clogging involves fewer than ten basic movements, but
these combine to make quite a variety of steps. New
steps and styles from other dances are often icorporated
into traditional clogging steps to make even more
variety in contemporary clogging.
Originally a solo dance, it was considered rude if you
showed off, or did your steps while dancing with a
partner. Eventually, however, clogging became a part of
Appalachian Big Circle Dancing, which is a relative of
modern square dancing. Square dances in the Appalachians
can still include people clogging while executing the
simple figures of Big Circle Dancing called by a caller.
Although each dancer may be doing different steps, they
all keep the same rhythm and a hall full of cloggers can
be quite impressive.
Traditional clogging was danced to banjos, fiddles or
whatever the settlers had to bang or twang to make a
lively tune. A dancer would improvise or show off
his/her favorite steps. Each dancer and each area had a
distinctive style. Eventually, these styles blended
together to create what is now called clogging.
Clogging is related to tap dancing, but has a different
style. Cloggers have a distinctive up and down body
motion and emphasize the downbeat of the music. There is
also a distinctive “chicka-boom” sound that cloggers
make. Tap dancers tend to be lighter and tap out the
melody, rather than the beat. Most cloggers today do
wear taps, usually the 2-piece kind. to emphasize the
sounds of the feet.
Modern cloggers often do precision clogging, which means
that all the dancers are doing the same step at the same
time. This can be in choreographed routines (often
written to perform in front of an audience), or in
recreational style line dances. Clogging line dances
have become the most popular form of clogging these
days. Workshops and convention often include teachers
introducing new line dances and a floor can have 100 or
more dancers all doing the same steps. It’s something to
Today cloggers dance to many styles of music, but always
music with a lively beat. Bluegrass music is the
traditional music of clogging, but you’ll find country,
pop, and hip hop used just as often these days. Line
dances are the most popular style of dance in many
areas, but clogging can be done solo, in couples, small
groups, or large groups. Freestyling, or hoedowning is
where each individual dancer is doing his or her own
thing, executing steps as they come to mind. Precision
clogging refers to two or more dancers executing the
same steps at the same time. Cued dances are a popular
form of recreational clogging where the sequence is cued
to the dancers. The dancers are familiar with the steps,
but they don’t have to memorize the entire dance
sequence. This way dancers can enjoy many more dances
than if each one were memorized.
Many groups also spend additional time to learn
precision clogging routines to perform. These may
include fancy steps sequences as well as the dancers
going through figures and different patterns with each
other. Usually the dancers will all wear the same
costume as well.
There are also clogging competitions in some areas of
the country, however, not in Northern California.
Categories can include a cappella, line dances,
precision routines, traditional routines, show routines
(with a theme), and individual freestyling.
Interested in learning more? Contact one of the teachers near you.
Home / Upcoming Events / Photos / Contact us