Been watching some old country videos tonight as I’m prone to do and got off on a steppin’ tangent. I was thinking…there was an influx of Scotch-Irish in the 1600s and another in the 1800s, who brought their music/dance with them. It’s a rythmic push of heel-toe. So when did modern tap dancing come about? (aka Mr. Bojangles.) And from where? Just a musing on continuities.
I always thought tap came about as the black American’s spin on Irish clogging.
My mother’s father was in vaudeville and did black face (wildly un-politically correct but history should be truth) and we also heard, besides the Irish influence, that the clogging (sort of a “jump” dance) came from a Scottish “sword dance.” The swords were crossed on the floor and the dancers lept from quadrant to quadrant. Of course later, sans swords, improvisation could come about. (With no fear of cutting off your feet!) And what really interests me is that in the reflected Appalachian clogging the upper body is kept stiff, static; no movement. And I wonder why, especially since the Innuit Indians (Eskimos) did/do the same thing. What a curious thing to come about in such different geographical points (and I’ve seen videos of African dancers jumping straight up and down in a similar way…) Is it to showcase the footwork? Or cultural (and I could be overthinking this) portrayals of some kind of oppression? (Later expressed in a more free-swinging, exuberant American jazz step.)
Actually I have that dead wrong; the Innuits keep the lower body still while the upper body sways in song. :smack: Back to the African influence in the evolution of Irish dance to tap.
It should be noted that foot-shuffling dances aren’t completely unknown in Africa itself…often with hollow seedpod anklets for percussion…
I would have thought Lancashire clog dancingwould also have been an influence.