Drumming With Your Feet: All Clogged Up!

Suitable for Key Stage 2 and above

Put on some clogs and follow in the footsteps of working class children from Victorian mills and factories! One of the aims of this workshop is to help connect the past with the present. After learning to dance some traditional Lancashire clog hornpipe steps we’ll be adding to this folk tradition by creating some completely new steps in clogs.

Background

Wooden soled clogs used to be worn by working class people all over the North of England and Wales, especially in the mills, mines and factories of Victorian England. It was only natural to use the clogs to create rhythms and to step dance in them. Buskers used to dance on street corners and the really skilled dancers entered clog dance competitions to win money prizes. There was a World Champion Clog Dance competition in the 1890s! Music Hall and vaudeville shows often included clog dancers, such as Charlie Chaplin, on the bill.

New dance styles and different footwear led to a decline in the popularity of this dance form but in the second half of the twentieth century folk dance enthusiasts started to “collect” steps and memories from elderly clog dancers. There are now records and film clips of old steps and routines and young clog dancers are performing these sequences. They are also expressing themselves and their own time by creating their own steps.

Workshop Session

A short dance display and video clips will give the historical and cultural context. The warm up will then focus on responding to the pulse of the music in ways that also highlight the structure and phrasing of the hornpipe tune, while establishing simple step dance basics.

Once the first step of a Lancashire Clog Hornpipe has been taught children will try clogs on (size permitting) and for the rest of the workshop they will hopefully be dancing in clogs.

The aim is to teach up to three traditional steps before asking the children to create new steps individually, in pairs or in small groups, giving them the experience of learning from the past and then using their own creativity to add to this traditional folk dance form.

A short performance can be developed to include the old and the new steps.

Workshop timing:  negotiable, minimum 1 hour sessions, within a half or full day.

We provide: a selection of wooden soled dancing clogs, live music played on fiddle and melodeon, and we leave a recording and the sheet music of the tune used in the workshop.

You provide: up to 30 children, a large uncarpeted space, a screen and equipment to show video clips.

Link with:  PE, Local History and Geography topics, Music