Monday, February 5, 2018

Buck, Flat, or Clog?

Can you guess what I'm talking about?

I've puzzled over these names from time to time, trying to figure out the difference. I'm referring to a type of dancing that is prevalent in the Appalachians, where the upper body is generally fairly still while the feet are flying like humming bird wings.

Sometimes a dancer dances solo; other times groups perform in choreographed rhythm. Tipper's daughters do this type of dancing, and I bet Tipper can shake a leg herself 😉

There are competitions too, but no matter how many are dancing or whether it's competitive or just for fun, it's always exciting to watch.

I tried to learn how to do it--once. I am woefully lacking in that area, and have relegated myself to the sidelines to enjoy the skill of others. My favorite dancer, hands down, is Thomas Maupin, who was recognized last year by the National Endowment for the Arts as a National Heritage Fellow, a high honor indeed. This video is a good example of his dancing:

What got me thinking about this today was a photo I took yesterday of this cabin along my road.

Orville always danced along to the bands at the annual 4th of July celebration in our town. I called his type of dancing "flatfoot" but was that correct? According to my reading this morning, it was.
"Flatfoot" refers to a dancing style similar to buck dancing, but in flatfoot the feet are kept close to the floor.

So Thomas Maupin's style of dance is buck dancing since it includes some moves where the feet are lifted pretty high. I don't recall Orville's feet ever being more than a few inches from the floor at best, so his dance was flatfoot.

Clogging is, as I understand it, the over-arching term for both types of dancing so both are types of clogging. Anyone more knowledgeable, please feel free to correct me in the comments as I would love to get this right.

Here's one last video, one I found while working on this piece, that shows yet another way people clog: mixing clogging with square dancing. I see this type of dancing every year at the West Virginia State Folk Festival and it's so much fun to watch. The video below was filmed in someone's home and is just fantastic. The furniture is pushed back, the rug rolled up and fun breaks loose! Kudos to David Hoffman, the man who caught all this action. Nice bit of buck dancing at the end.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Steve Arnold said...

Fascinating! Thank you for sharing.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Yes, I knew what you were talking about, Sue. Thanks for sharing the videos, I'd not seen them before though the last one has been popping up regularly when I've been looking at other dance videos - shamefully though I didn't look at it. Big mistake!

Judy Schmidt said...

What fun! Thanks for sharing all this, Susanna. Thomas Maupin puts me in mind of bits of Fred
Astaire's dancing in his fluidity.
Judy Schmidt

Granny Sue said...

John, there are so many similarities to some of the dances you show on your blog, not surprising of course but pretty cool to see it.

Granny Sue said...

Judy, that is what amazes me. It's like their feet are barely on the floor, since they're mostly in the air! Thomas Maupin is really something to see in person, and his grandson Daniel Rothwell is one of the best young banjo players I've ever heard. The whole family is a treasure.

Nance said...

I didn't know Thomas Maupin nor buck or flat dabcing. Until I learned about clogging, I called all these dance styles 'tap' dancing. I've got to get with it!9

Granny Sue said...

It is incredibly fun to watch, Nance. Makes me wish I could do it, but my hand/eye/foot coordination is sadly lacking.

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