BROOKVILLE — Those passing by a Main Street cafe in Brookville this winter may hear the sound of shoes clogging along on a wooden floor, and a lot of laugher, too.
A 12-week beginner class for cloggers started back up at Fusion Cafe, also known as the home for CREATE (Community Resources Encouraging Artistic Talent and Education) Brookville, on Jan. 22.
“A lot of people don’t know what clogging is, although they’re familiar with tap dance,” said instructor Danielle Taylor. “I often describe it as being like tap, but both literally and figuratively more down-to-earth.”
Tap involves dancing while balanced on the “balls” of your feet, Taylor said, while clogging involves a heel striking the floor with each beat.
Taylor grew up in North Carolina, learning how to clog in kindergarten through a school elective, she said. She participated in a performing group until ninth grade, then took clogging classes at a local studio.
“In college, I took old-style Irish tap classes, and I picked back up with clogging when I moved to Virginia and danced with the Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers for six years,” she said.
Taylor moved to Brookville in 2015, and started teaching at Fusion Cafe a year ago. She’s held four free Saturday workshops, and three rounds of beginner classes, lasting 10 to 12 weeks each.
“I’ve started another round of beginner classes, as well as an intermediate class for people who want to take their dancing to another level,” Taylor said.
A future goal of Taylor’s is to develop a performing group of cloggers, who would dance at local fairs, festivals, nursing homes and community events, she said.
“Clogging developed organically along with bluegrass and old-time folk music in rural Appalachia, and although we may not always think of it in this way, western Pennsylvania is part of this American cultural region,” Taylor said. It has influences from European, Native American and African dance styles, as people from a wide variety of backgrounds have contributed their traditions. It’s constantly evolving as dancers develop new steps, rhythms and routines.”
People of all ages and ability levels can learn and love clogging, Taylor says. She has taught children in kindergarten, all the way up to people in their upper 80s.
“I love seeing people from different walks of life come together on the dance floor and pick up the same beat,” she said.
Clogging is not only a stress reliever and a good time, but it’s great exercise, Taylor said. It can help those with osteoporosis strengthen bones over time.
“The atmosphere of a room full of cloggers is pretty casual, and we’re constantly laughing at ourselves for tripping over our own feet, so it’s a lot of fun,” Taylor said. “Several of the dancers in my classes have said that clogging is a highlight of their week.”
The old wooden floor cloggers dance on has “great acoustics,” Taylor says, which often brings people into the shop when the door is open in the summer.
“CREATE Brookville is the heart of the creative community,” she said. “There’s always something cool going on there, and I’m just grateful to have clogging be a part of it. People will hear our feet from the sidewalk and come inside, just to see what’s going on.”
The next workshop and round of classes is being planned for May or June, Taylor said. For more information on clogging, people may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-787-6405.