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Part: 6 Picture Perfect > Term Paper #3 - Pg. 350

Sample Term Papers 350 My curiosity about clogging and step dancing began about a year ago, when I read a newspaper article about the success of the Irish dancing show Riverdance . The author stated that Irish step dancing had a major influence on Appalachian clogging, a form of American folk dancing. I'd never heard of clogging before, and my knowledge of step dancing was limited as well. The article sparked my interest, which led to my decision to choose step dancing and clogging as the topic of my final presentation and paper. I had several questions in mind. Did Irish step dancing actually affect Appalachian clogging, and if so, how much? How did the evolution from one dance to the other occur? And were there other influences as well? I was also interested in the two dances as separate entities. I wanted to find out more about each one, compare and contrast them, and examine each dance's place in contempo- rary America, especially with regard to issues such as cultural identity and authenticity. As the semester and my research progressed, I found the most helpful resources to be encyclope- dias, Web pages, and the assistance of two dancers who patiently answered the questions I threw at them and provided me with some insight that I couldn't get from books. In addition to learning a great deal about the two dances, I found the answers to some of my guiding questions and came up with new questions for further research. What follows is a chronological account of the history of Irish step dancing and Appalachian clogging, and a discussion of the two dances as they exist today. Early Irish History: Conflict and Conquest Somewhere between 350 and 250 B.C.E. , the Celts (also known as the Gaels), settled in Ireland ("Irish" 84). Their feisianna date from the early 1000s. A feis was a big Gaelic festival, which served as a combination of a trade fair, political gathering, and cultural event, complete with music, story- telling, sporting events, and crafts. According to Ann Richens and Don Haurin, these festivals still exist today. Ireland was home almost exclusively to the Celts and their successive generations until the middle of the twelfth century. In 1169, Ireland was invaded and conquered by the Norman knights of Henry II of England, beginning a long history of conflict between the British and Irish. This event was known as the Anglo-Norman conquest, and King Henry partially controlled the land for the next 400 years ( Encyclopedia of Multiculturalism 291). In 1366, the Statute of Kilkenny was passed, which excommunicated or placed heavy penalties on those who allied with the native Irish or followed their customs. Pipers were routinely banned and arrested in the mid-1500s (Richens and Haurin). In the seventeenth century, Ireland became a British colony, and the Scottish and English people were forceably resettled to Northern Ireland. The Penal Laws, enacted by the British Parliament in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, limited the Catholics' religious and civil rights, banned their education, and set Irish com- merce and industries into ruin. By 1750, the original Irish controlled only five percent of all Irish land. Some of the Irish left the homeland due to the severity of the conflicts, but most couldn't afford to ("Irish" 84). The Creation of Irish Step Dancing Irish step dancing had its beginnings in the early 1700s during the turmoil of British oppression. The Irish wanted to learn upscale dances like those done in France and England. To accommodate their demands, dance masters invented Irish step dancing by adapting the French and English dances to fit with traditional Irish music (Harrison <>). This led to the distinctive foot percussion seen in Irish step dancing, known as battering . The new dance style was named "step dancing," because each dance sequence executed within eight bars of music was called a step (Richens and Haurin). A dance master would travel within a county, staying in each village for about six weeks and teaching step dancing to boys. A local family provided room and board, and it was considered an honor to have a prominent dance master stay in one's home.