Clogging, a rhythmic dance related to tap, morris dancing, and step-dance, is experiencing a revival in popularity. Originating in England, Wales, and North America, clogging competitions were held as early as the 12th century. The dance is performed in special shoes that accentuate the sound of the dancers’ heels and toes on the floor. Clogging has survived nearly 1,000 years and is now performed to a variety of music genres. Its renewed popularity may be due to recent portrayals in popular media.
Clogging is a popular dance form experiencing a renaissance in the 21st century. Originally popular in England, Wales and parts of North America, obstruction has become popular with young dancers. Clogging is a rhythmic dance somehow related to tap, morris dancing and step-dance; its revival is somewhat inexplicable but certainly fun to watch.
The basic steps of the clog dance are somewhat similar to tapping. The dancers wear special shoes to accentuate the sound of their heels and toes on the floor. Dance is extremely dependent on coordination and rhythm. Skilled performers move so fast that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of their feet touching the ground.
One of the oldest forms of traditional clog dancing comes from Wales, where it has been a popular dance since at least the 12th century. Popular at Welsh music and culture festivals called Eisteddfod, clog dancing competitions were held as early as 12. Welsh clogging is still done in a traditional style, rather than being a form of revival, it has never died out in cultural practice .
In England, clog dancing was a product of the Industrial Revolution, though accounts of its beginnings vary. It gained popularity in the mill towns of Lancashire and much of Northern England, spawning contests and festivals throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the practice died out during the late 20th century, a recent revival has begun to take shape in parts of the United Kingdom, particularly in the northern England town of Keighley.
The American version of the clog dance originated in the mountain and mining towns of the Appalachian Mountains. The dance, also called jigging, is the official state dance of both Kentucky and North Carolina. Traditionally, American clog dancing is performed to the upbeat music of Irish and Scottish bands, such as reels and jigs.
The renewed popularity of clog dancing may be in part due to several recent portrayals of the style in popular media. In the 1997 blockbuster film, Titanic, the main characters Rose and Jack are involved in a form of blockage during a raucous party with steerage passengers on the ship. More recently, a clogger was featured on the popular American TV show, So You Think You Can Dance? While auditioning for the third season of the show, a young dancer named Brandon Norris so impressed the judges with his jamming of him that he was invited back for a special performance later in the season. The performance became a hit on the show and on video sharing sites like YouTube, bringing clogging to a wider audience.
Today, clog dancing competitions are gaining popularity and fans around the world, although they remain most prominent in the countries where they originated. In addition to the traditional music used for performances, rock, bluegrass and punk music are now jammed. To the surprise of many, clog dancing has survived nearly 1,000 years and, through innovation and experimentation, is holding its place in the modern world.