Appalachian Stepdance

Some of the Ryburn Appalachian Stepdancers

The Appalachian Stepdance group does ‘Flatfooting’, which is a form of Appalachian clogging, a branch of a large family of dance in which the primary emphasis of the dancer is to make percussive rhythms by striking their feet against the floor. Flatfooting concentrates on the rhythms and sounds which can be made to fit the music. It is dance for the ears to hear as well as for the eyes to see.

Sue and Alice dancing to Dana & Susan Robinson

Different styles and sub-styles of stepdancing are found in many cultures around the world. Appalachian clog like many other American traditions is a mixture of several older forms of dance and music. Its origins go back over 200 years when the clog and step dances of the English and Irish immigrants were mixed together with the movements and rhythmic skills of African-Americans. The various styles absorbed elements from each other: the formal postures of the English and Irish styles relaxed; and the large-movement full body African figures became more subtle.
A wide range of people who lived in the Appalachian Mountains of America made their own entertainment and danced to the fiddle and the banjo. The dancers took on the percussive rhythm role of the drummer and the resulting style of music has become known as ‘Old Time Music’.

Appalachian Flatfooting is a simple enough dance form to pick up, there are only a set number of steps and once you’ve mastered them, all that’s left is to elaborate on them to music. Why not come along and give it a go?

Phone Sue Coe on 01422 822569 or just come along to 103 Oldham Road, Ripponden, every Tuesday evening 7.30 – 9.00pm.

An Independent Folk Development Project in the Ryburn Valley