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Someone on the CBA Message Board asked: "What's the difference between that and flat-footin' or buck dancing - looks easier than clogging?"

Oh, goody, I get to try to describe dance styles in print... I like a challenge!

Although traditionally many of these words have been used interchangeably, these days the different words are often used to try to distinguish between styles. If you think of dance as evolving or melding from a combination of Irish step-dancing, Northumbrian clog dancing, African-American dance and Native American dance, not to mention individuals' improvisations and innovations, you get a flavor for how varied the various styles can be. Clogging is often used as an overall term to include all of the following styles, or the terms can be combined to give the general idea, as in "traditional flatfoot clogger" or "Appalachian flatfooting buckdancer", etc.

Here is an overly simplified summary:

Clogging: used as an overall term to include all of the following styles. Often used specifically to refer to "precision clogging", rehearsed, choreographed, often performed by teams in set routines. There are team competitions in precision clogging in many states, with costumes and required steps, etc. Performed with tap shoes. Closer to tap dance or Irish step-dance. Includes high kicks and flashy steps aimed to please a viewing audience.

A typical clogging step sounds like "And-uh One And Two, And-uh One And Two":
"Shuffle" with toes of left foot as foot goes out & back, Step on left, touch right ball of foot, Step left.
"Shuffle" right, Step on right, touch/step lightly with left ball of foot, Step right.
Shuffle, Left, ball, Left, Shuffle, Right, ball, Right...etc.

Flatfooting: Traditionally an improvisatory individual dance (rather than team/choreographed). Emphasis is on "playing the tune" with your feet, rhythm & music, rather than for visual impact. Feet are kept close to the ground allowing intricate fast rhythms with minimal effort so you can dance for hours. Flatfooting is sometimes thought of as the "old-time" compared to clogging's "bluegrass".

One typical flatfoot step sounds: "One-ee-and-uh-Two-ee-and-uh One-ee-and-uh-Two-ee-and-uh":
Step left, hit right heel, pull back on left, touch right toe,
Step right, hit left heel, pull back on right, touch left toe.
Step-heel-pull-toe, Step-heel-pull-toe.

Buckdancing: a very traditional style based on a bent-knee "pull back", sliding, "chug" step. The basic buckdance "chug" described here is actually the basis for the flatfoot step that I described above. It looks a little like running in place, (and, interestingly, is very similar to a step used a lot in Hip Hop dancing).

A typical buckdance step sound: "One And Two And One And Two And".
Step on Right foot, pull it back, Step on the Left foot, pull it back.
Step pull step pull - or - Step chug step chug.
Doing this "chug" step repeatedly on one foot allows you to do lots of fancy-looking variations with the free leg, but the important part is keeping the rhythm going with the foot on the ground.

Note: I have a few ruptured lumbar discs, so I can't dance much right now. If I get my artificial disc replacements soon, and if I heal nicely, I would be THRILLED to teach more clogging/flatfooting/buckdance workshops.

Video clips: (Warning: these are huge files)

1. Basic Clogging step as described above

2. Basic Buckdance step as described above

3. Basic Flatfooting step as described above

4. Simple Clogging steps to music

5. Simple Buckdance steps to music

6. Simple Flatfooting steps to music

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