Appalachian clog dancing is a uniquely American dance style with elements from the folk dances of pre-Columbian America and the British Isles.
Over time, the melting pot of these different cultural roots incorporated other influences, such as Native American and African, as the dance style spread across the United States. The combination of these diverse styles resulted in what we know as American Clog dancing today.
But recent clog performances prove that American clog dancing continues to evolve.
At the National C.L.O.G. Convention in 2013, people from every walk of life traveled to New Orleans to see America’s finest clogging talent. And from watching the performances, you can immediately tell that this isn’t traditional clogging.
Two young girls from South Florida Cloggers stole the show with their adorable routine.
Rebecca Vetter, a clogger since she was nine years old, established Jimmy Jam Cloggers in 2005. When her dancing team quickly grew from four to 110 members, the South Florida Cloggers dance school was born. Now, Rebecca teaches the dance style she’s so passionate about to aspiring cloggers of all ages.
She hopes that clog dancing will change their lives – as it changed hers.
“In second grade, I was diagnosed with severe dyslexia,” Rebecca told Sun-Sentinel. “I was the shy kid, the one who hid in the closet and didn’t want to go to school. The psychiatrist told my mom to find my niche, so she stuck me in dance class, then art class…”
Then, she began her love affair with clog dancing, and it changed her life forever.
“Finally, I went to see a friend’s clogging shows and started doing that for $20 a month, and boom! I was on the pro team, and that immediately built self-esteem. I see it happening to the girls I teach now, and that’s why I’m so very passionate about it.”
And the girls of South Florida Clogging are absolutely exceptional.
Meet Danielle and Sally, two of Rebecca’s young students who performed at the National C.L.O.G. Convention in 2013 with a spellbinding clog routine.
The girls were in the amateur show duet category in the 7-9 age division, and their performance is as adorably wholesome as it gets.
The pair put on their biggest smiles for the crowd and prove that an excellent teacher, a lot of passion – and of course, natural talent – go a long way.
But, most importantly, it’s obvious that the girls are having a lot of fun!
They execute their moves, and it’s clear that this isn’t traditional clogging, it’s modern clogging!
They wear tap shoes and use the percussion of their toes and heels on the floor to accentuate the timing of the song they are performing to.
While traditional clogging is a rural dance style, tap is an urban art form that came to be in the mid-1800s.
Although the two styles are becoming increasingly similar as tap dancing is incorporated into clogging, the main difference is in the heels.
Cloggers will use the heels of their percussive shoes on the downbeat of the music, and the toe on the upbeat – this gives clogging its unique sound. Clogging shoes also feature a “double-tap” on the toe.
Sally and Danielle’s performance is almost flawless. Their instructor must have been so proud!
But Rebecca Vetter and the South Florida Cloggers are making waves elsewhere more recently.
In 2019 – six years after the performance at the National C.L.O.G. Convention – Rebecca and Danielle were featured in a segment of Spotlight on the Arts, where they spoke about the South Florida Coggers’ campaign to raise awareness about bullying.
“We spent all summer creating a PSA about the important issues we face everyday in the hopes of inspiring others to create the change they wish to see in the world. This video serves as a reminder to be kind to others, love yourself, speak out against harassment, and to always remember who you truly are.”
Rebecca explains that the video is meant to address bullying, self-image, and harassment in the workplace… and what better way to raise awareness about such important issues than doing what they know – clog dancing!
The talented girls of South Florida Clogging and their instructor are really going places, so watch this space!