Sunday, April 26, 2009

Clogging up the Works

As you may or may not know, I've been dancing with a group called the Eclectic Cloggers for about a year and a half. Summer is our busiest time of year, with lots of performances at bluegrass and folk festivals throughout the state. To prepare for our upcoming summer shows we've been working on some new routines, and brushing up on old ones.

Our summer tour schedule can be found below, but first I thought I'd share a few tidbits about clogging.

First of all, we do not wear clogs!! Our group practices traditional Appalachian style clog dancing, which is very relaxed, energetic and fun, and includes a lot of chugs, stomps and "woos!". We wear regular tap shoes for our fancy footwork and percussive pounding, and (almost) always perform with a live band playing traditional folk and bluegrass fiddle tunes.

Like tap dancing, there are some basic steps involved with clogging. These basic steps, such as shuffles, steps, and chugs, are then combined in various sequences to create rhythmic and/or flashy moves, often named after the person who made them up. It's fun to imagine the ancient characters coming up with their signature steps. I often wonder if they had any idea way back 200 years ago, that their "name" would be carried on through all these years in the form of a clogging move. Here is a list of some of those steps, so you can see if you have a clogging namesake:
Betsy, Earl, Eddie, Bertha, Mark, Pearl, Rita, Paul, Old McDonald, Hoochie(?), and Cotton Eye Joe. I'm sure there are lots more, but I am fairly new to the sport, so my knowledge is still limited. (Coincidentally, there is also a move called The Grapevine, just like my blog!)

In our group, the women tend to outnumber the men by quite a bit. This means that sometimes a lady will have to play the part of a gent. When there are 3 or 4 "same-sex couples" practicing a new dance, it can sometimes get confusing. In an attempt to avoid any gender confusion issues, we sometimes call the roles "A" and "B". That doesn't always make things any easier, especially in dances where there is a lot of partner switching. (Not only are we bi-sexual, we're also swingers!!)

We may look a little hokey in our baggy bloomers, tiered pioneer skirts, and red suspenders, but we try to keep things as authentic as possible, while still expressing our eclectic selves. We are also having the time of our lives, and getting great exercise while we're at it!
If you're in the Seattle area (or Yakima, or Olalla, or Lake Wenatchee), please come check out one of our shows this summer:

Sunday, May 17th
University District Street Fair
University Way, Seattle
2:00 pm

Monday, May 25th
Northwest Folklife Festival
Seattle Center
International Dance Stage
6:50 pm

Sunday, June 28th
Shoreline Arts Festival
Shoreline Center
18560 - 1st Ave NE
Shoreline Room
12:00 pm

Saturday, July 11th
Yakima Folklife Festival
1:00 pm

Saturday, July 11th
Lake Wenatchee
Campsite Fireside Show
8:00 pm

Saturday, August 15th
Olalla Bluegrass Festival
Time & Stage TBA

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