In my blog of June 5, I talked a little about my love of clogging. Having discovered Michael Flatley of Riverdance fame long ago, I wondered about the connection between clogging and Irish Step Dance and tap dancing. And here’s the answer. Through a little research, I discovered that “the troubles between the British and the Irish in the mid-18th century, coupled with the great famine, brought a mass exodus of Irish to the shores of America. Many Irish settled in the Appalachians, bringing their music and dance with them. Irish step dancing thus influenced the creation of Appalachian clogging. American tap dancing was also influenced by a combination of African rhythm and Irish percussive foot work.” For more on this, go to http://www.ehow.com/about_5453202_history-irish-step-dancing.html.
However, Michael Flatley, having won international acclaim for Step Dancing, exceeded even himself and created his own version, which you can never forget if you’ve seen him dance. Here’s what he says: “What I’m doing there is an accelerated version of Irish traditional dancing.” He says more: “At the same time, I have incorporated the upper body movement and all of the arm movements, but it’s not done like ballet. It’s not done like tap and it’s not done like flamenco. It’s something that I had to create from scratch because nothing else would have fit there.” Go to http://worlddance.suite101.com/article.cfm/michael_flatley_biography#ixzz0qITKVQO7
Here are two YouTube excerpts of Flatley’s dancing. The first is his “Thunderstorm” from Riverdance. Notice that his arms are freely and naturally moving, as opposed to traditional step dancing. The dancers’ percussive steps are perfectly executed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytcZIfvSWW4 And last today, notice how his style has changed in his “Feet of Flames Finale.” I like the Spanish influences so much. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdD5Te_ZZys&feature=related