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EAASDC-Bulletin June 2011

Dance Edication

Clogging
What is this?
Monika Zöller

Here is a brief explanation: It is a dance that has its origins in various kinds of folkdance. To emphasize the rhythm of the dance, cloggers wear small pieces of iron (taps) nailed to the heel and toe of the shoes.

In Europe, where most things take a long time to catch on, Clogging started about twenty years later. But let's go back to the beginning of our story:

Clogging has always been around. It comes from traditional folkdances, and is mostly spread though northern Europe, where wooden shoes are worn to dance. Clogging, along with many other traditions, was brought to the New World by the pioneers. In spite of much contact with cloggers, it is not possible to determine the exact start of clogging groups or clubs.

In 1968, a Square Dance group demonstrated Clogging in Fontana Village. One newly graduated square dancer watched with great enthusiasm.

Her name is: -- Shelia PopweIl.

At that time, she certainly did not know that she was to be a trailblazer for this dance. She travelled 60 miles twice a week to participate in a clogging course. She completed the clogging course, and was still enthusiastic, but she rarely found a chance to clog. So she packed her records, books and shoes, and went out on the road. She made the dance popular, spreading the word in the true pioneer tradition. She taught classes, wrote books and choreographed countless Clogging routines. To standardize the wide variety of movements that mak up Clogging, the steps were named and officially recorded by the National Clogging Council.

That was a quick look at the history of Clogging. When I turned to her for help, Shelia surprised me with her readiness to lend a hand. She immediately sent all information necessary to start a clogging group. She also sent tips about records, class plans and addresses that I could write to for further information.

Clogging does have rules. In class, you can learn the Basic Step and try out Freestyle. Freestyle means that each clogger dance as he likes but stays within the Clogging rules. The clogger can put steps together in any combinations. The imagination of the dancer is unlimited. Some Clogging dances, like Round Dance, are cued. Each clogger will quickly realize that 1 - 2 hours of practise per week is not enough. In class, dances can be learned, but to be able to really dance fluently, the dances must be practised outside of class.

It is, however, worth while to spend a little extra time practising. Only then can you really notice your improvement that will make up for all of the incorrect "Double Toes" beats. There is a lot more to tell, but I will stop now, before I get carried away.

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