Friday, December 28, 2012

December Update

Ok I know I've been a little quiet lately. I sorta plataued for a while and thought it would be a little dull just to post same thing over and over. Anyways I've been working on Irish rover (with variation) after Brenda's suggestion I try it.
Firstly, eep! Its in the intermediate section. But need'n't have worried, picked it up fairly quick. But I still need the book in front of me at the moment. So need to practice more and get my speed up so I can add music. Haven't tried turning on the spot with it yet. Which bit of the step to you turn on and which direction?

Monday, November 26, 2012

In the absence of an update....

Haven't had chance to record any updates lately...just too much going on, but in its place thought I'd share another video featuring a clog dance.

Starts at 2.29

On a side note the lady in the video was thinking potential clog outfit?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Funny, the things you notice

I like watching clips from old hollywood musicals. And in my ramble through youtube stumbled upon this little routine.

Check out 1.30 -1.42 and 2.28 - 2.40
Doesn't it look a bit like

from about 3.14 ;)

What do you think?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Clog and making noise

So my practice is a little intermittent at the moment. Mainly because I either have to lug the board downstairs or wait till mum isn't in because:
Well...this video (from about 2.50 onwards) illustrates my problem.

Apparently I give her headache/make the ceiling shake. I don't see how. I'm trying to be less elephant like. lol! Concentrating on the steps that don't involve hops or springs has been my compromise. 
Any tips for being lighter on my feet and not so loud?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A quick update for October

Yes folks, I'm still here. Been trying to work out a 'routine' I can remember. lol! So far this is as far as I've got 6 steps. Still not there with the double shuffle. So I've not tried to add it in yet.

And no music this time. I need to re-record a hornpipe enough times through at the right speed.
I had to record this all in one go as I had limited time, hence the little edit at the end. If I'd have had more time I would have re-recorded right from the beginning.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Swiveling ankles and heels

Well I'm running out of imaginative titles. lol! But in lindy hop I did some swivels (mutters to self...prepare, twist twist) anyway it made me think of the double and single heels and how I hadn't practiced them in a while. So here is the video.
You may notice I was trying to be clever with the editing....first zoomed out...then close up of feet.
Hopefully I'll get another video done in the next few days.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dancing Dolls at traditional music day

I know you might be thinking....what's that title to do with learning clog dancing. Well its to do with music and dance and I think quite relevent. I have recently purchased a 'jig doll'.
'She' is a 1920's 'flapper' called millie. 

I took her on an outing to EATMT Traditional Music Day. She got a lot of attention.

I even managed to get a video...or two. I'm not in either of them as I was filming...but she's a freindly jig doll who'll dance for anyone.

She misbehaved a little and took a stage dive. lol!
Hope you've enjoyed my little wander off on a tangent.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Yes, I am still practicing!

I know I've been rather quiet with the blog. But I have still been practicing. Even if its just 'shuffling' in a spare moment waiting for a train etc.
Still trying to do a 'routine' without a mistake so I can put a video up. Maybe I'm being a bit too picky and need to accept the errors?
I brought the board downstairs and did some practice while I watched TV...before you say 'waste of electricity' I was fitting it in in the ad breaks.
Multitasking. Well if I can sew and watch tv I can dance and watch tv.

I read somewhere it takes 10,000 hours practice to be a musician. How many hours practice does it take to be a dancer?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Top 5 - Clog Video Countdown 2012

Since I started to get interested in clog dance I've taken an interest in the videos clogfest put up every year. (*sighs* One day I'll get to go). They are always inspiring and its nice to see all the different dancers.
So here are my top 5 from Clogfest reverse order...
Cue music...

Number 5

Number 4

Number 3

Number 2

Number 1

So what are your faves?
I'm sure I'll be watching all the videos like a million times as I wait for next year....

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July Update - Part 2

So here are a few videos of my latest attempts. I did try to do more but the light got too bad for the camera before I could finish.

Second Schottiche (Progression)
First Schottiche (Progression)
First Schottiche

I did try to do several steps ina row, but kept mession it up as soon as I pressed record.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 2012 Update - finding the right music for dancing

So I had a mega practice session yesterday. Working my way through all the beginner steps. Realized I should record myself a slightly faster soundtrack. (see link below)

I also noticed a trend. Its the steps with lots of sequential shuffles that I struggle with....I keep going out of time when I do them.

I also had a go at recording a waltz for practicing the waltz time clog steps from the workshop I went to.

I'm finding it hard to find a waltz I can play that 'fits' the steps. Any suggestions? What elements in a tune should I be looking for?

Oh, here is a tune I've taken a liking too wonder if I can dance to it?

Monday, June 4, 2012

First Anniversary - a very special 'learning to clog blog' post

Hello, readers new and old!

This is my special surprise to celebrate the first anniversary of my beginning to learn clog dance and blog about it. I simultaneous guest post on my own blog and Susi's 'diddly diddly' blog. First off thanks to Susi for letting me guest post.

The subject up for discussion is Music & Dance....

A broad subject you might say but one which I could wax lyrical about for hours so I will try to keep it concise.

My foray into dance started with a dalliance with playing music which in turn came from listening to music. I wouldn't say I was a dance musician...I wouldn't say I was a good musician, but I enjoy it, which for me is the point. Till I found the concertina and melodeon I never thought I would ever be able to play music (except by putting on a CD of course). But in the squeezebox I've found an instrument that suits *me* and the way I want to play.
Something I found with the box was a sense of rhythm and steady pace. I'm of the opinion I'd rather play a tune well and slowly than fast and badly. And a fast tune is not necessarily more interesting than a slow one. Dance music should make you want to at the least tap your foot...and you can't tap your foot if the music is so fast your foot would wear down to a stump if you tried to keep up. I dislike it when you can't hear the melody breathe.

Since I've started dancing I've found its rather addictive...and one you try one style of dance it can lead on to other types. You also start seeing dance steps you recognize with different names in different dances.
e.g. Susie Q, reminds me of single and double heels

My first exposure to clog dance proper (not clog morris) would be Cheltenham Folk Festival in 2010. When I saw Hannah James & Sam Sweeney perform. I thought the clog dance looked and sounded impressive.
I can't find footage of that day but here's an example

Then at Oxford Folk Festival 2010 I saw the Demon Barber Roadshow....with an impressive array of dancing which showed me it could be 'contemporary' and not just 'traditional'.

Then that same year I went to the Stepdance Day at Worlingworth Swan and had a go at the 'workshop'. I thought...'hmmmm...this could be for me, but I'd like something more structured' - I've never been good at improvisation.

That was where seeing 'Come Clog Dancing' gave me the final push. I wanted to do clog. It just and its a dance I could do solo, didn't have the embarrassment of not having a partner to dance with....and I wouldn't need a great big dance floor, plus it would be something I could do purely for exercise rather than having to dance in a social situation.

First things first. I needed the right equipment. A Board and clogs.  As I wasn't familiar with the clog world I decided to choose Trefor Owen who had featured in the program. And I definitely made the right choice. I love my clogs. So comfortable. Its so nice to have a type of shoe that doesn't rub my ankles or my feet and make them bleed and blister.
Then I looked for tuition. Now where I live is a very long way from the north and not exactly a hub of clog dancing. Nearest place offering regular lessons was Camden, London. Next stop I searched youtube...nothing there. Then I remembered that someone on a forum had mentioned a DVD...which is how I came across Brenda Walker's set of books and DVD's which I've since used for the majority of my learning. With the addition of workshops and an occasional one off lesson from a local dancer.

Its been a year now since I started and am looking forward to another year of dancing.

Want to read more about my experiences learning to dance clog?

Join/Follow me at the learning to clog blog!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just pick yourself up....

And in a change to your usual programming.....

I was watching another Fred & Ginger movie...and this song I think summed up my approach to dance. lol!

"Just pick yourself up....dust yourself off...and start all over again...."

(He) Please teacher, teach me something, Nice teacher, teach me something. I'm as awkward as a camel, that's not the worst, My two feet haven't met yet, But I'll be teacher's pet yet, 'Cause I'm gonna learn to dance or burst. (She) Nothing's impossible I have found, For when my chin is on the ground, I pick myself up, Dust myself off, Start All over again. Don't lose your confidence if you slip, Be grateful for a pleasant trip, And pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, Start all over again. Work like a soul inspired, Till the battle of the day is won. You may be sick and tired, But you'll be a man, my son! Will you remember the famous men, Who had to fall to rise again? So take a deep breath, Pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, Start all over again. (He) I'll get some self assurance If your endurance is great. I'll learn by easy stages If you're courageous and wait. To feel the strength I want to, I must hang on to your hand, Maybe by the time I'm fifty I'll get up and do a nifty. (Both) Nothing's impossible I have found, For when my chin is on the ground, I pick myself up, Dust myself off, Start all over again. Don't lose your confidence if you slip, Be grateful for a pleasant trip, And pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, Start all over again. Work like a soul inspired, Till the battle of the day is won. You may be sick and tired, But you'll be a man, my son! Will you remember the famous men, Who had to fall to rise again? So take a deep breath, Pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, Start all over again.

followed by this fab sequence

I will now return to my normal posts ;)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 2012 - Update

I know I've been a little remiss with my posting over the year so far. But I don't want to be boreing you with repetitive posts. Hence why I try to focus on trying to get one post done a month with a little summary of what I've been up to. 
Lets start with since the workshop I've been trying my hand at waltz clog dance I've been trying to find a waltz I can play competantly (ideally in key of G) that 'fits' and isn't boring. This is proving to be quite tricky.
In other news next month will be the first anniversary of my starting to learn clog. So I shall have to think up something clever to post to commemorate the event.

Today I decided to do a few videos. 
Firstly went over some of the steps I struggled with when I started...

First Schottiche Progression

Second Schottiche Progression

I also had a go at a step I've not tried until now. Umpas.
That will leave just the twizzles I haven't had a go at in the beginner section yet.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Skirt to clog dance in...

 I was making a dress originally, but I found imperfections in the fabric I had cut the skirt instead of throwing it way I worked with what I had. Put a pocket in to cover up the inperfections.

 And then embroidered the pocket with a 'clog' motif.

Now worn with an underskirt makes a perfect dancing skirt. It has swirly properties without being too sticky-out-y.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Clog dance workshop

So today I got up at dawn to travel to Cecil Sharp House in go to a workshop.
A photo from the showcase (nope I'm not in the picture)

Now I was hopping between choosing Beginner (waltz) and Improver right up to the last moment. But went for beginner, which I think was the best choice and will prabably do improver next time. Unfortunately my alarm didn't go off - so I didn't have time for breakfast and arrived late but managed to catch up.
Took me a bit of time to get used to the waltz rythum but managed it in the end. Brain did stop working for a while...had to kick it into gear one last time for the showcase...eeeep! I didn't fall over doing the jump clicking heels together as I feared I might. Phew!
I think my legs and feet have now stopped was great fun but ever so tiring.

Video of the last dance...pat tracys A routine(?)

Been working on the waltz at home as you can see been making annotations on the notation.

I'm getting the highlighter pen out! That'll be same colours for identical sections repeated. Yep I really do need to colourcode steps. Its the way me brain remembers it.

You should see my copy of Brenda Walkers Clog dancing book...I've got doodles and notes all over it. lol! And instructions like LEFT or RIGHT written really big as prompts to get me to start on the correct foot.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Clog & Tap?

Off on a slight tangent...
Totally fallen for this dance sequence...and the music is such an earworm.
Its from a film called 'you never were lovelier' (I went out and bought the DVD...the plots not bad...with some funny dialogue. I actually stumbled upon it trying to look up what the move 'shorty george' was. lol!

At about 1.08 is that a bit like stepping back/over?
I stumbled upon this quote "It is in fact noted that Fred Astaire was taught to dance by a traditional clog dancer." which made me look at Fred Astaire's dancing again.

So wondering a bit about the connection between tap and clog...are the steps quite similar?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shuffle's and jumps...

Single & triple shuffles.
For some reason I can do the steps but they aren't in time to the music...I'm fine when I have the DVD on to follow...but take that away put on the music and it all goes pear shaped.
I've tried saying the steps..I've tried counting out loud as I do them. Grrr!
 It looks fine without the music but with it I feel like I'm constantly trying to keep up.
The video of me above is first without music, then with music [me playing then using the cd track].
Am I doing it wrong?

Next is single heels & single jump...
I did fumble it at the end. I realize I'd got wrong foot in front and it slightly threw me. Actually I keep doing that find right foot in front of left easier than the other way round...and I have jumped onto my toe a couple of times...ouchy. Should I be getting that much 'hang time' in the air? Or should the jumps be more subtle?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Double shuffle...I may have just got it

I was just trying everything the other day to try and get double shuffle to work.

1 - Danced along to DVD (slow speed) 5 times.
2 - Turned round so I wasn't facing the screen and danced along 3 times.
3 - I also do straight shuffles instead of rounded ones as suggested.

Something dawned on me...if I didn't listen to the melody closely like I usually do I could dance to it much long as I remembered to do the double shuffle at the right time. It meant I could have brain free to count steps rather than concentrating on the beat. This seemed quite counter intuitive so I put it to the test. Used the 'slow' and 'medium' music on the CD to dance to...and it...worked well it seems to work.

I shall have to try it again and see if it works now I've had time to 'forget' and see if it works without having double shuffled all evening first.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My first public clog dance...

Sooooooo...last night had my first ever 'public' performance dancing clog. Eeep! Scary! It was at the local session. A friend had very kindly offered to play for me.

I wonder if I should have started slower to take into account of how sluggish my brain is when I'm nervous.

Got through the first 2 'steps' fine at the end of the third one I nearly lost my balance (didn't fall off the board or stop but it threw me a bit). So as I started the double heels my inner monologue went something like.

You've done too many double were supposed to do a single heel...not you can't fit in the comes 'B' part of the tune...try again....messed it up again because on wrong something...the end is getting closer...improvise...I know you don't improvise but do something.....step, shuffle JUMP!

I landed only 'just' on the board.

No one commented that I made a mistake and I got a round of hopefully no one noticed I messed up.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Keeping you updated - March

I feel like I should do a March update. Firstly I'm almost getting the hang of the basic break dropping heels. But still at slow pace...need to speed up gradually.
I'm also going to be dancing a short spot at session this month. Bit scary....but have been practicing the clog 'routine' and it uses all the steps I'm most confident with... No double shuffle!!!!

and on another note....
I have to admit...I have tried to do some charleston steps in my clogs. Makes swiveling my ankles easier coz the clogs slip and slide unlike my trainers. I really need to get some proper dance shoes, its doing my knees in.....I keep recognizing elements that remind me of clog steps in the charleston and lindy stuff.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Level Am I? Workshop Dilemma...

What level am I?
Yes. I'm playing that game again. I do it with every workshop whether it be music, dance etc. 
I just find it impossible to judge my level of competency and thus pick the correct class. I can spend weeks hopping from one thing to another trying to list the pros and cons of each. Or guessing what skills might be needed and if I could get away with doing something a little tricky or to go for something easy.
I wish workshops would just 'audition' you and stick you in the right class. I can't rely on myself not to be biased for or against my skills.

There's a clog workshop day at cecil sharp house in April that I'd like to go to. 
I just can't decide which class to chose. I've never been before so don't know what to expect.
So...What level am I?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Snow clog

As some of you may know it snowed over the weekend...actually got enough snow to make stuff with. So I present to you....

A Snow Clog!
 (and yes those are my 'everyday' walking around clogs I'm wearing...proved to be up to the snow.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Update February 2012 - jumps and heels

So here it goes a little update. I've been working on the basic break dropping heels. Its so much easier when I just do stright shuffle instead of trying to do rounded shuffle.
Also been working on double & single heels with 'jump'. I didn't realize right foot had to land directly infront of left foot and vice versa till I watched the video. And suddenly it made sense. Now just got to do it without loosing balance. lol!

Last off a little video I made. Been learning to play the tune of the month 'Rabbit Stew' and decided to record and dance to it. Hope you like it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

So you know how I said...

So you know how I said I hadn't seen any clog dancing on got to dance...well I was watching 'auditions uncut' and what do a spy but 2 clog dancers.
They got 2 gold stars....which I think means on the shortlist...but can't find them listed on the website as live semi finalist. :(
Edit: Found a video. One of my fave tunes.

I have still been practicing my just I don't want to bore you with the same posts over and over. And am saving updates for 'progress' or any particular area of 'difficulty' rather than just posting every day 'still practicing'.

and finally...
I'm also learning swing jive....loving the charleston and lindy hop elements of it. If it hadn't been for clog dancing I don't think I'd of had the confidence or fitness to try any other kind of dance.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dropping heels....etc.

So here are some more videos. Firstly the break dropping heels. I think I got it right. Just need to be able to as automaticaly as the other basic break I usually do.

And here is Third Schottiche....which I realized I'd only done one video of before.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Still here....practice and watching dance shows on tv

Still practicing. Just running through the steps.
Trying to memorize the steps so I don't have to keep having sneaky peek at the book to remind myself.
Also tried doing basic break dropping the heels.

On side note was watching 'got to dance' the other day. Haven't spotted any clog dancers yet. :(
But this group of dancers were amazing