Irish clog dancing has a long and storied history, starting some 400 years ago. The dance is also loaded with tradition and formality from the way a dancer holds his/her arm to the outfit that is worn for the dance. But two little girls in the 2013 Showdown of Champions in Knoxville, Tennessee added a twist to this traditional folk dance form.
These two girls performed at the 2013 Clogging Champions of America – Showdown of Champions in Knoxville, Tennessee. The video of their routine has made its way around the internet, mostly because of their high-energy twist on this traditional dance form. The girls, Madison and Morgan dance to Keith Urban’s Hit the Ground Runnin’ and pattern their clog dancing off of a more modern country dance style. In addition to the change in musical style, the girls also decided to buck tradition by not wearing the colorful clogging dress that is often seen in Irish dance routines. Instead, the girls stayed true to the country soundtrack by wearing brown plaid shirts and white jeans. Of course, the traditional clogging shoes were a part of their modern take on the clogging “uniform.” So, even from the start of the dance, the audience knows that this isn’t going to be an ordinary high stepping clog dancing format. The girls chose to update a very traditional dance and all of their crowd-pleasing choices can be seen in the video.
As the video begins you see Madison and Morgan facing away from the audience on a typical dance stage with a large wheel as part of the backdrop. Once the upbeat music starts the girls quickly turn around and start off with a very country western pose and hip movement. The energy just goes up from there as the girls swing each other around and clomp on the ground. It’s a mixture of a country-western dance and a traditional Irish clog dance format. Their spin moves and twists are perfectly choreographed with the Irish high step movements that are seen in traditional clogging. The two girls pour it on with fast turns, pantomimes of guitar playing, and huge smiles throughout the performance. The huge burst of applause at the end of the performance indicates that the audience greatly enjoyed the two girls’ take on this traditional Irish folk dance form. And viewers of the video also seem to be highly favorable to the performance, with comments like, “Wow” and “That was fantastic.” There is even a comment from a teacher of the form who is countering a comment from someone who called the girls out for not really doing a clog dance. “Clog comes from the Irish Gaelic word for ‘time.’ Add to the obviously Irish steps here, and it certainly is. Don’t denigrate changes in our culture. This is a modern Irish-American dance style, which we should be proud of.” Although various viewers disagree with the girls’ re-interpretation of this traditional dance form, there is no denying the energy and skill of these two young dancers.