Friday, October 27, 2017

‘Appalachian Autumn’ by Kick the Cat

27 October 2017

On Tuesday evening I was at Dean Bowling Club in the Comely Bank area of Edinburgh to take part in ‘Appalachian Autumn’ – a clog dancing workshop organised as part of the Luminate Festival by Kick the Cat, Scotland's only Appalachian dance group. Kick the Cat meet every Tuesday at the Bowling Club but opened their doors this week for a beginners’ workshop and demonstration. Appalachian dancing is a fascinating missing link between folk dance and tap. Scottish and Irish immigrants brought their clog dancing traditions to the new world and gradually assimilated influences from Native American and African American culture. The clogs were replaced by formal shoes with metal taps on the toes and heels and the dancing became more performance than social, leading to the development of tap dancing. The Appalachian dancing practised by Kick the Cat is a curious hybrid of recognisable tap steps (shuffles, step-ball-changes and heel taps) in a ceilidh format, dancing with a partner and progressing around a circle. Kick the Cat demonstrated some amazing routines and we all then had a go at a sequence of steps, reassuringly titled ‘Dead Easy’. It was great fun in a really friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I’m only sorry I can’t return next Tuesday.

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