All about Clogging

Clogging is a truly American dance form that began in the Appalachian Mountains in the mid 1700’s.  Irish, Scottish, English and Dutch Germans met and all combined to create a foot-tapping style accompanied by fiddle and bluegrass music.

Clogging made it’s way to the flatlands and was shaped by other influences such as Cherokee Indians, African Blacks and Russian Gypsies. 

Clogging evolved as an individual from of expression, with the person using his feet as the instrument to make rhythmic and percussive sounds to accompany music. 

One of clog dancing’s most renowned founders, Bascom Lamar Lunsford of Asheville, North Carolina, helped to popularise the art of clogging by adding it as a category in the annual Mountain Dance & Folk Festival in the 1920’s.  The winners of the competition was the Soco Gap Cloggers who even performed for the Queen of England.  She remarked that the footwork was very much like “Clogging” in her own country.  Hence the name, “Clog Dancing”.

In the min 1930’s, Dr Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw, formed an exhibition team and began to tour the United States, sharing his knowledge.  His 1939 book, “Cowboy Dances” is considered by many to be one of the finest historical collections of early American dances, ever printed.

As the popularity of square dancing increased, Clogging was once again relegated to solo expression with only certain areas of Appalachia and the Ozarks continuing to practise clogging.  During this period, Bill Nichols (South Carolina) taught clogging at the Fontana Resort (West Carolina Mountains) and was considered by many to be the “Grandfater” of modern clogging.

During the late 1970’s, The Green Grass Cloggers were formed (North Carolina).  The group combined old time steps with high kicks to create a unique style of clogging.

Sheila Popwell (Georgia) is credited as one of the creators of the first standardized cueing and terminology methods which made it possible for cue sheets to be produced for routines.  This allowed dancers to learn new dances and steps without having to travel to workshops.

Clogging today is more complicated.  New influences such as Tap, Canadian Step Dancing, Irish and Hip Hop can be seen in the style performed by modern cloggers.  Performing teams wear brightly coloured costumes, and entertain crowds with their impressive footwork.  Teams can also participate in competitions.

In 2003, clog dancing was included as a competitive dance sport in the AAU Junior Olympics. Clogging group "ALL THAT" placed second in the nationally-televised talent contest "America's Got Talent," and cloggers are now being spotlighted on television and major motion picture projects.