Percussive dance is a highly rhythmic and musical dance form that relies on precise execution of foot-based dance patterns. The program Math in Your Feet is firmly grounded in my work as a traditional percussive dancer, performing both Cape Breton step dance from Canada (by way of Scotland) and American “old-time” Appalachian flatfooting and clogging.
Both step dance and clogging lie stylistically between modern Irish step dance (known in one form from the show Riverdance) in which the arms and torso are held straight and stiff and the legs are active, and American tap dance where the entire body is looser and moves more freely.
The general similarities between different percussive dance forms include the use of percussive foot sounds for musical expression as well as more focus on movement in the legs and feet than in the upper body.
Helping kids make up their own percussive dance patterns is at the heart of what I do as a teaching artist. I developed Jump Patterns as a way to teach my students basic rhythmic concepts through percussive movement and provide them with the opportunity to create their own percussive dance patterns. You can read more about the development of Jump Patterns here.
You can watch these videos to get a sense of the fun, vitality and precision inherent in traditional percussive dance.
The top video features Nic Gareiss who has spent his young lifetime learning a multitude of traditional percussive styles and then merging them something completely and musically his own.
The second video is an example of some Irish old-style step dance done with a broom. Fun and fancy!
The third video is a mixture of foot and body based rhythms, all acapella, fun and engaging for all ages