I’m sure many of my readers have heard of clogging, a type of tap-dancing that began early in the Industrial Revolution and has spread to many countries. An American variation on clogging is buck dancing. Wikipedia describes it thus:
The term “buck,” as in buck dancing, is traceable to the West Indies and is derived from a Tupi Indian word denoting a frame for drying and smoking meat; the original ‘po bockarau’ or buccaneers were sailors who smoked meat and fish after the manner of the Indians. Another source states that the word “bockorau” can be traced to the “Angolan” word “buckra’, and was used to refer to white people, which is disputed. Eventually the term came to describe Irish immigrant sailors whose jig dance was known as ‘the buck.'” Another origin of the term “buck dance” comes from the idea that this style of dance was a flirtation. The male dancer would show off his skills on the dance floor to attract the female, thus being compared to the buck’s courting ritual of the doe.
One source states that buck dancing was the earliest combination of the basic shuffle and tap steps performed to syncopated rhythms in which accents are placed not on the straight beat, as with the jigs, clogs, and other dances of European origin, but on the downbeat or offbeat, a style derived primarily from the rhythms of African tribal music.
Buck dancing was popularised in America by minstrel performers in the late 19th century. Many folk festivals and fairs utilise dancing clubs or teams to perform both Buck and regular clogging for entertainment.
Traditional Appalachian clogging is characterised by loose, often bent knees and a “drag-slide” motion of the foot across the floor, and is usually performed to old-time music.
You can read another perspective on buck dancing here.
Among the best-known practitioners of buck dancing in the USA is Thomas Maupin. At 80 years old, he’s still active. Here’s a tribute video about him from the National Endowment for the Arts.
He took fiddler Hilary Klug under his wing (or should that be ‘his foot’?). She’s become a top performer in the art of fiddling while buck dancing (or vice versa). Here are a few videos of her performing.
I hope you enjoyed that as a change of pace from our normal Sunday morning musical excursions.
Wow! Just Wow!! That is one very talented young lady!!
And her mentor–here is hoping he will be around for many more years!!
Overheard at a Baptist meeting:
"We're against clogging on principle, because it leads to beer."
Thanks for sharing the post! John Hartford would be tappin' his agreement.
Good post, and I will suggest a look at another dancing fiddler, Ms. Lindsey Stirling.