Review of the Clog Stepping Workshop – run simultaneously for Beginners and Intermediates – by Melanie Barber (clog dancer) and Mike Adamson (musician) on 7th November 2021, attended by 20 participants on Zoom.
Angela, Pauline, Sally and Sarah of Beverley Garland Dancers write:
“It’s a Sunday morning, the hoovering is abandoned, the duster lays lifeless in the cupboard (again) the floor is cleared, the board is down, the coffee is consumed, and the anticipation of some rhythmic toe tapping is heightened by that familiar message on the screen “the host will let you in shortly …”
“Then wham! The screen bursts into life with a group of equally excited, clogged-up participants for Melanie Barber’s workshop. And this is a challenge if ever there was one. A Hornpipe, 10 steps at both beginner and intermediate levels and all on the ubiquitous Zoom. Ably accompanied throughout by Mike Adamson, Melanie took us step by step through the dance skilfully aiming her deconstruction of the steps at us beginners so we could understand them, while also demonstrating more complex additions for the intermediate dancers to enjoy.
“First the all-important warm-up, starting at the top and working down to the ankles. As Melanie pointed out, we think this is all in the legs, but the ankle bone is indeed connected to all the other bones via numerous other joints and muscles all of which appreciate some warming up before being asked to jiggle about (or even creak…) a bit.
“For those of us beginners who have never been to a “live” workshop and have been trying to learn moves mainly from YouTube, Melanie’s explanation and broken-down demonstration of a shuffle and a hop-shuffle were true lightbulb moments making a seemingly impossible movement for a beginner become a (relative) piece of cake!
“Throughout the workshop, Melanie encouraged us to ask questions and to recap any steps which we were struggling with so we had every opportunity to gain from her expertise. She shared many snippets of information, really useful to newcomers, such as the different types of shuffle (round, straight or shallow) which are more popular in different parts of the country; the fact that crunches can be “C or Z”; and that clog dancers tend to speed up when they turn their back on the musician!”
“By the end of a whirlwind 3 hours (split into 2 sessions) we felt we had gained a firm footing on which to build up to performing the whole dance (although those follow-up videos of each step will be very welcome for a refresher!). A big “thank you” to Melanie, Mike and the Morris Federation team for setting this up.
“Sometimes the worst turn of events in life lead us to new opportunities we may never have considered. Who would have a thought a global pandemic would be the trigger for us finally getting our act together and learning some clog steps? A few of us, dancing North West style Morris have been toying with “proper” clog dancing for a while so the necessity for lone dancing at the start of the pandemic was just what we needed to get stuck in. We have boards, we have new rubberless clogs (thanks to Simon Brock, also a Morris Federation lockdown Zoom star catch it here Demonstration of Clog Making [1hr 20min YouTube] if you haven’t seen it already), we have a hired hall and so several hopping-double-shuffle-swanee-click and hop-flop-crunches later, Bob’s Your Uncle: we’ve (almost) cracked it!
Review by Angela, Pauline, Sally and Sarah of Beverley Garland Dancers from the East Riding of Yorkshire