old-style Irish
ottawa valley
cape breton
claire battering
appalachian clogging
american tap
doft shoe (american)
buck and wing       
rhythm tap       

Traditional Percussive Step Dance

I'm often asked what exactly traditional percussive step dancing is. It's all of the dances listed above (and more). If you'd like to dig deeper, here's a little breakdown...  

TRADITIONAL DANCE. This could be any style of dance that has developed more or less organically within a particular culture. Honestly, the idea of tradition is a loaded one and a subject of endless debate. Is tradition something that was done 100 years ago that we should hold on to and continue to practice? Or is it something that is living, and ever changing? I say the latter! Especially when you realize how many social and cultural norms from so many localities, individuals, and points in time have contributed to any given tradition. 

​​WHAT IS PERCUSSIVE DANCE? Well, this is dance that creates percussion! (I know, I know, you got that one on your own). It is a musical dance practice of which the main feature is making rhythms with your feet (and sometimes other parts of the body). Most dancing is rhythmic, but only some dance is percussive by definition. 
​"When I dance for my own sake, I draw from all of the practices I have studied and love. But it is always informed by the individual traditions."​​

SOME PEOPLE SIMPLY CALL THESE DANCE FORMS PERCUSSIVE DANCE and leave the traditional out of it. Which is legitimate. Given that most percussive dancers are rooted in one tradition or another, percussive dance is naturally part of a tradition. 

because to me it indicates that there is DEFINITELY a rooting in tradition and study. This is important. Since tradition is such a slinky concept, with so many definitive possibilities, it is really easy to enter into a practice that is rooted in tradition, without any knowledge of this rooting, and completely miss the subtle nuances that are deeply important in the expression of the art form. These cultural or historical nuances root the dance or the music in something bigger, something important to human experience, something communal, something that we connect to. 

WHERE DOES THE STEP COME IN? There are some traditions we might call traditional, and percussive, like Irish set dancing, that are group dances. They are figure focused. Step dancing is focused on the individual doing steps. There's lots of crossover here, however, step dancing (while almost always a part of a communal, group practice) is essentially a solo dance practice.

"These cultural or historical nuances root the dance or music in something bigger..."​

ULTIMATELY, MOST OF THESE DANCE FORMS ARE COUSINS of some sort, with a few outlying aunts and uncles thrown in here and there. But most of them originate from Scotland and Ireland, and some of them have influnces from other cultures including African American, French, and Native American. There will be more about these histories posted as the online programming for The Step Collective grows! 

WHEN I, DANIELLE, DANCE FOR MY OWN SAKE, I draw from all of the practices I have studied and love. But it is always informed by the individual traditions. There are some steps I would never use with some types of music because they don't quite work together. The dissonance might be difficult to ascertain, but it is indeed pulpable when you get deep enough into the practice. 

Tap a style below to watch an example of the dance form. 
Old-style Irish       
Ottawa Valley       
Cape Breton       
Claire Battering       
Appalachian clogging       
American tap
Soft shoe (American)       
Buck and wing   
Class act    
Rhythm tap