Traditional Dance - Appalachian Clogging (Stepping)

A how-to-do-it tutorial by Rosie Davis

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Handy Hints

•     Dance some exercises to clapping, percussion, or singing.

•     Dance the exercise to different tunes: we are generally going at 68 to 114 beats per minute, so a metronome can be useful at times - you can get one with a bell to mark the beginning of each bar of music (each four beats in 4/4). Tock tick tock tick.

•     To begin with it is probable that you will only be able to dance as fast as you can speak. Make up some short phrases to match the rhythm of the step you are learning and sing it to the tune before you try it with your feet.

•     Clap the rhythm you are trying to dance; don't be proud - sometimes it's very difficult to get a tail on how rhythms fit together.

•     Use a jig-doll to inspire you - copy the sounds and rhythms, dance with and without music.

•     Clap on the OFF the beat, dance on the ON beat and vice versa - internalise: you are a human drum! Feel free to play with the "stuff' of dance.

•     Experiment; watch other dancers; listen to the rhythms in the music; ask the musicians about the music; listen to/copy the rhythms that the tune makes, or the fiddle bowing makes. Try out steps that fit the bowing of the fiddle - the Nashville Shuffle sounds just like Singles.

•     Make your drumming/dancing an integral part of the music, learn some tunes all the way through, hum them in your head whilst you dance.

•     Join a Samba Band - learn to dance all of the rhythms that the drums play, work with some other people to recreate the Samba with clogging.

•     Learn to play a tune you like to clog to on an instrument. Dance to singing.

•     Use a song tune to dance to: freestyle the verses: but keep the choruses the same. Try this with a group of dancers so that they move from individual styles into all doing exactly the same steps on the chorus - Precision Clogging.

•     Go to Ashville, North Carolina (the big clogging festival) - take me with you please.

•     Take in as many clogging workshops as you can so that you try out different approaches. Teach someone else to clog better than you can yourself.


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