APPALACHIAN CLOGGING has a multi-ethnic origin. English, Irish,
Scottish and French settlers brought to the New World their own traditions of
step dancing and these merged with the rhythms of African Americans and with
Cherokee and other native Americans’ ritual dance steps to form a percussive
style uniquely American called buck dancing or flatfooting.
As the USA became increasingly industrialised, the dancing
survived and evolved in isolated areas, principally in the southern Appalachian
Mountains, and was usually performed informally, maybe on the board floors of
porches or at community gatherings, as a percussive accompaniment to Old Time
music played on fiddle and banjo (the guitar came later). In the 1920s,
flatfooting steps were incorporated into square dancing; competitions were held
and it was at one of these that the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on a
visit to America, remarked on the similarity to British clog dancing and this
resulted in the name, Appalachian Clogging.
Precision Clogging developed during the 1950s when groups of
dancers began performing the same steps in unison. In the 1970s, the steps
started to be named and written down and American dance groups began arriving in
Britain to demonstrate their style. This became adapted to become a British
style of Appalachian dance which some Americans think may be closer to the older
tradition. Over 100 steps have been catalogued and Shuffle the Deck, who are
predominantly Precision Cloggers, use some 50 of these.