There seems to be a lot of confusion between clogging, Irish step dancing, and tap dancing these days – in fact, most people generally think that all three dance styles are pretty much the same thing!
While these dance styles are similar in that they all involve percussive footwork, they each have a very unique sound.
Clog dancing has roots that go all the way back to Appalachia in the 1700s. Settlers from all around the world – including England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany – created a melting pot of cultures when they brought their traditional and folk dances with them.
Clogging continues to evolve and is always changing. Nowadays, modern clogging encompasses many different elements of dance and all music genres.
But while clogging has drawn from many different cultures, tap dancing is purely American.
Tap dancing truly became its own distinctive dance style in the Five Points district of New York – another melting pot of English, Irish, Scottish, and even African culture.
Unlike clog and Irish step dancing, tap dancing became popular on the show business circuit.
Irish step dancing originated in pre-Christian Ireland and is thought to be loosely based on European folk dances such as the quadrille. But it’s not just the roots of clogging, Irish step, and tap dance that are different – it’s also the shoes and the position of the upper body.
But, with all that said, which dance style is better?
One group of performers decided to settle the big question once and for all.
Greg and Maria Tucker founded their dance school, Rocky Mountain Express, in 1998. Since then, the husband and wife’s team has swelled to more than 120 students. Although their passion lies in clog dancing, they teach their students Irish step and tap as well.
So, what happens when you have all three of these iconic dance styles on one stage?
You get an unforgettable performance, of course!
Greg and Maria’s YouTube channel is filled with their dance school’s performances, but the videos where we are able to watch Irish step, tap, and clogging side by side are the most informative and interesting by far.
In a video titled “Clogging vs. Tap vs. Irish Step – the “Battle of All Battles”!” five performers from each style battle it out for the title of best dance style alongside each other. The dancers mock and challenge each other in one-on-one performances, and then they all dance together. It’s a dance-off of epic proportions.
If you’ve ever thought that there’s not much difference between tap, Irish step, and clogging, here’s your chance to see the differences for yourself.
One thing you’ll notice immediately is that all of their shoes sound very different when they hit the floor.
Irish step dancers wear shoes with fiberglass tips, tap dancers wear shoes with metal tips, and cloggers wear shoes with a “double tap” – a piece of wood or metal attached to both the top and bottom of the shoe to give it that distinctive “clog” sound.
Another difference you’ll notice right away is the position of the upper body for each different style.
The Irish step dancers hold their bodies completely upright, while tap dancers and cloggers will move their arms and torso.
This is a showstopping performance that the group has performed many times, but it never ceases to amaze. The way the three dance styles’ differences are highlighted and yet woven into one performance is truly incredible to watch.
So… which style is better?
You’ll just have to watch the video and decide for yourself!
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