Ozark Mountain Step Dance

"Stepping" or jig dancing is the step dance of the Ozark mountains of Arkansas. Similar to flatfooting and buck dance, it incorporates elements of both, as well as some movements from old time tap.

Stepping, or jigging, developed as a solo dance in which the dancer would keep the rhythm of the music with toe taps, flat foot stomps, drags, chugs, and heel digs. Stepping often is part of old time square dances, with the dancers moving through the figures while their feet do drags and chugs. During inactive moments of a square, partners are apt to break into a favorite step of some sort. While the band warms up early in the evening, the jig dancers do also, taking advantage of the empty floor to get in the mood.

In more recent times, clogging steps have entered the repertoire of the jig dancers, following the historical pattern of dance mixing in the Ozarks, with young dancers favoring energetic steps. This has always been the case since earliest days, when travelers of all sorts brought their music and dance to the hills. These European traditions mixed with native American music and dance making a rich cultural stew. Some history buffs relate the prominence of the drag/slide movement in jig dance to this mixing of traditions. Early dancers did not use taps, and at local square dances and jam sessions dancers still beat out the rhythm in whatever shoes they are wearing.

WORKSHOPS

Steve & Foot Song regularly teaching Ozark Step Dance as well as flatfoot dance. Workshops can be for any level of skill, and are often combine all levels. As these are traditional dance forms, the emphasis is on learning rhythms and steps sequences that accompany and enhance the music. Portions of the four count walking step are used in many ways in much of jig dance. Most of the dance is close to the floor, but dancers are encouraged to develop their personal steps, some of which may be quite athletic.

Beginning dancers of all ages are quickly part of the music, as the simple drag/chug movement is at the heart of beginning as well as complex stepping.