We are both trained dancers who use our footwork in our singing act. We both perform Appalachian Precision Clogging and the more traditional Flatfooting. Sue was trained in tap dance and also does a fair English traditional clog dance and Irish-style jig when pushed. Both of us have also danced traditional Cotswold Morris for the last fifteen years with our local village side, Hereburgh Morris. Ian first started dancing as a Morris dancer, but has now expanded his repertoire to include Appalachian Precision Clogging and his particular favourite, Appalachian Flatfooting.
In 1998, in response to local demand, Sue ran an Appalachian Precision Clogging workshop that was intended to run for ten weeks only. The new members were so enthusiastic that they had mastered the initial curriculum long before the end of the ten weeks and Sue was forced to find more dance steps for them. At the end of the ten weeks, and with three American members who had all danced the steps in their native United States, the inevitable decision was taken to form a performing squad, and we agreed on the name Kick Start.
Since then, we have gone from strength to strength, appearing in fetes, concerts and invitation dance outs at Festivals. Four times now Sue and Ian have taken part in Ira Bernstein's Intensive Flatfooting course and we are the only people in the world to have completed all of his advanced Graduate courses in the UK. We now reckoned by Ira to be amongst the best exponents of this dance style in both the UK and USA!
Kick Start Appalachian Dancers are becoming ever more popular at both Festivals and Public Functions and the side features over a dozen skillful and enthusiastic dancers. One of our trademarks is the accurate rhythm we try to maintain in their dances, adding a precise percussive beat to the music. Our live peformances include a number of challenging, original dances and a couple of speciality rhythmic numbers using broom handles and body-slapping (or Ham-boning, as it's sometimes called in the USA). Visual, skillful and humorous, the shows are a delight for audiences of all ages and tastes and we even throw in audience participation for even more entertainment!
Kick Start are lucky to have a fine fiddler and banjo player Dave Streeting, who has been known to dance with us too, and skilled bass player Glynn Murray. Ian also lends accompaniment, when not dancing, on fiddle and mandolin. Most recently, Jane Chapman has being playing fiddle too, when she's not dancing.
Appalachian Step Dancing originates from the South Eastern United States and was probably developed by the early settlers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The dance style is a mixture of steps and movements, due to the many nationalities who contributed to its present form. There are aspects of Irish Step Dancing and English Clog Dancing in the dancing style and it may have also drawn on the many hard shoe dance traditions from France, The Netherlands and Scandinavia. The rhythmic music that accompanies the dancing is traditionally provided by fiddles, banjos and guitars and is itself an amalgam of many influences and styles. Appalachian Precision Clogging was first developed by the Green Grass Cloggers of the University of East Carolina and, like most UK dance sides, we favour and maintain this style of dancing.
We teach both Flat-footing and Precision Clogging to Advanced standard and have run many workshops in Folk Festivals and village halls. If you want to know more, check out our Workshops and Consultancy page.
Where and when to see us:
7-9 June 2013 Wimborne Minster Folk Festival
6th July 2013 St Edburgh's Fete, Southam
20th July 2013 Oundle Day Of Dance, Northamptonshire
17-18 August 2013 Moira Furnace Folk Festival