The Green Grass Cloggers are a clogging team that was founded in 1971 by students at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Inspired by seeing traditional mountain-style clogging teams, but more influenced by older flatfoot and buck dancers met at fiddlers’ conventions, they developed an original, eclectic style which was a radical departure from the traditions of North Carolina team clogging of the time.
Unlike the ‘big-set’ mountain square dance figures of the traditional freestyle clogging teams, the Green Grass Cloggers used choreography based on four-couple Western square dance figures, in short energetic routines, consciously designed for audience appeal. While the group’s footwork was synchronized, as in precision clogging, their free-spirited performances included head-high kicks and other unconventional steps. Dressed in old-time calico dresses, blue jeans, and black shoes, their appearance contrasted with the clean-cut look of polyester and white tap shoes common to most other groups in the 1970s, making them a crowd favorite at the clogging competitions in which they danced. This popularity with audiences helped them win the title of World Champion Cloggers in both 1972 and 1974, at Fiddlers Grove, NC.
By 1974, with an established reputation as top-notched performers, the Green Grass Cloggers began to be invited to perform at major folk festivals throughout the United States and Canada. From 1977 until 1987, the "Road Team," which relocated to Asheville, North Carolina, toured full-time nationally and internationally as a professional dance company, while the "Home Team" remained active in Greenville. By the end of the 1970s, clogging groups inspired by the Green Grass Cloggers had formed in many places across the country. Overseas, the Green Grass Clogger-style was adopted by groups in Japan and in England, where currently it is the predominant style of ‘Appalachian’ clogging.
The Green Grass Cloggers road team no longer performs regularly, while the home team in Greenville still occasionally dances at local events. In recent years a reunion group of the road team, celebrating 30 years of clogging, has danced at a few festivals and other events including the Swannanoa Gathering (2001), the Lake Eden Arts Festival (2001), Appalachian Stringband Festival (2002), and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (2003).
-- Phil Jamison
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