At music venues, such as the Floyd Country Store in Floyd, Virginia, when an old-time or bluegrass band plays a lively breakdown, it is not uncommon to see dancers get out on the floor and accompany the music with their feet. This traditional Appalachian step dancing is commonly known as “buckdancing” or “flatfooting.” In this presentation, we will examine the history of these step dances, identify the influence of earlier European and African dance styles, and trace the evolution of clogging – from the square dance teams of the late 1920s, when percussive footwork was first combined with southern Appalachian square dance figures, to the contemporary clogging of today.
Phil Jamison is a nationally-known dance caller, old-time musician, and flatfoot dancer. He has called dances, performed, and taught at music festivals and dance events throughout the U.S. and overseas since the early 1970s, including more than thirty-five years as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers. His flatfoot dancing was featured in the film, Songcatcher, for which he also served as Traditional Dance consultant. From 1982 through 2004, he toured and played guitar with Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers, and he also plays fiddle and banjo.
Over the last thirty years, Phil has done extensive research in the area of Appalachian dance, and his recently-published book Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance (University of Illinois Press, 2015) tells the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia. Phil teaches traditional music and dance at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina, where for twenty-five years he served as coordinator of the Old-Time Music and Dance Week at the Swannanoa Gathering.