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Noise Making Shoes (Percussive dance), de-mystified
Is that Tap Dance? Are you a clogger? These are questions that often come up while street performing. Let me educate you so you can assign a proper label next time it comes up~
First, a quick youtube video to illustrate three dancing styles which are often confused: Irish Step, Tap Dance, and Clogging:
As you can see, these three dance styles use different movements to express music with their feet, aka dance. Which brings me to…
The Shoe Breakdown
Tap shoes look like this:
There are high heel versions as well, which are more popular among Broadway style tap dancers:
Irish step shoes look like this:
And Appalacian Clogs look like this:
Appalachian dance can also be done with no taps, which is referred to as flat-footing. Appalachian dancers can also wear regular tap shoes, but tap dancers don’t generally wear Appalachian dance shoes.
In tap dance, dancing with no taps is referred to as a soft shoe dancing.
Comparing the 3 styles of shoe, each has a unique sound quality. While the Appalachian clogging shoe has a thinner sole and more intricate taps, making a more jingle-y sound, the tap and Irish step shoes have a thicker wooden sole. Tap shoes have metal plates screwed to the bottom, attached to the toes and heels, and Irish dancing shoes have fiberglass tips on the bottom, according to this Celtic Heritage blog.
For an explanation of the difference between the taps on clogging shoes vs. tap shoes, watch this nice mother-daughter video and you will sort-of understand, like me!
In addition to all three of these noise making shoes, there are flamenco shoes which also have some sort of metal stuck on the toes and heels, but instead of metal plates, they are studded with tiny pins.
Here is a video of a world renowned Flamenco dancer, Sara Baras, and her band, so you can get a sense of flamenco if you don’t already have a sense of it. If you ever get the chance to see this dancer live, do it! She tours and is an incredible performer!
Check it out:
Also, here is a clip from a 2019 performance by Dorrance Dance, one of today’s top touring tap dance companies. You will see a little Appalachian clogging inspired tap here. Enjoy!
And finally, if you’re into listening to silly things, here’s a podcast about Appalacian Dance and other topics, recorded at Big Irv’s, an art collective in hipster Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York.
Thats all for today folks, lay off the plastic!
With great ape love,
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