Rebecca “Ms. Becky” Stout sets the pace for the entire video by teaching the “Happy State of Mind” and how it relates to this dance. This is video teaches you how to do Buck Dancing/Flatfooting in a simple way. The video is a practical practice tool as well as an educational resource on the history of Buck Dancing and Flatfooting. It is also sprinkled with Rebecca’s own personal experiences.
With over 30 years of Buck Dancing experience from her roots in Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky, Rebecca has performed hundreds of shows throughout her career, beginning with Buck Dancing as a little girl at her Mom’s gigs, when she would dance out into the crowd to collect quarters in a milk jug. She also is one of the very few living dancers that use Rhythm and Rhyme in her style of dance. A technique that combines singing and rhyming phases to make the dancing more interesting.
The video is largely shot outdoors in an opening of an old barn with a view of forest and trees in the background. It has been found that people learn this type of dance better in nature or informal environments.
*This is the only video to earn the “ASPS Learn” stamp, which is a standardized system for learning this art form developed the by the ASPS (Appalachian Step Percussion Services) Dance Company. This system developed over years of teaching over 10,000 students, provides the student assurance that they will engage in the fastest, most fun method of learning this dance.
Each of the steps is broken into easy-to-learn sections. Rebecca first demonstrates the steps slowly while explaining them and then shows you how to do them to music.
Motions You Will Learn
The part of the video shows the ten basic motions that are common to all steps. By learning these simple motions the student learns how to add them into any step that they later learn. These motions include:
Steps You Will Learn
The steps are organized from the simplest to the most complex, constantly building on what you just learned. These are not standard steps that can be found at any Buck Dancing / Flatfooting class taught at a local festival. These steps were found through 10,000 miles of travel, from real dancers from the heart of Appalachia.
1. Soldier’s March – This section goes right to the heart of the dance by using the one step that all Buck Dancers / Flatfooters use and all students know how to do. It becomes the basis for the following steps.
2. Mitchell – This step comes from Galax, VA and practiced by a flatfooter known as Mitchell Robinson. It’s considered a core step of this style of dance and one of the first that people learn on their own when they are not “taught”. The Mitchell is very simple in that it combines a Dig with the Soldier’s March.
3. Bowman – This step comes from Bobby Bowman (the flatfooter who inspired Paul Anderegg,) who danced in the central Virginal area. This step is like the Mitchell except it combines a Tap instead of a Dig with the Soldier’s March.
4. Jimmy – This step comes from Oneonta, AL area and was practiced by an Old Time Buck Dancer by the name of Jimmy Ledbetter, now passed away. It’s a very simple 1-2-3 step that uses three steps of the Soldier’s March. Once you have this step and start combining with the Mitchell and the Bowman you really start to feel like you have some technique.
5. Leaf Shuffle – Like all the steps, this one too is found widely throughout Appalachia. A series of foot trails connected many parts of Appalachia together before roads were developed. In the fall of the year some of these trails were covered in leaves. People did not want to slip down the side of the mountain, so the person hiking in front would brush the leaves off the trail with their feet as they were coming down the mountain. If there ever was a “Magic Step” to Buck Dancing, surely the Leaf Shuffle must be it. The previous steps give the student technique, this step give the student ‘style’. It combines the Soldier’s March with the Slide and a Zig.
6. Zig Zags – This is the step that lets people really start to have fun with dance. We see people smiling ear to ear when learning this step. A very common step to Buck Dancing, it has often been overlooked as important primary step of this style of dance. It combines the motions of Zig and Zag.
7. Coleman – This step come from an amazing 92-year-old dancer from Nashville, TN known as Phyrell Coleman. As one of the oldest Buck Dancers alive, her vibrant stories and witty humor really propel this dance to the next level. This step combines three consecutive Slides together. You can really feel how this step fits the music when you learn it.
8. Nashville – This step comes from an unknown dancer from Nashville, TN. It combines the Soldier’s March with a Zig to make for a simple, yet stylish step.
9. Chugs – This step is considered by many to be a core part of this dance that sets it apart from other dance forms. Being a very common step, students pick it up quickly. It consists of a Drag and a Slide.
10. Buck Step – This step being the most difficult on the video and is the basis for many beautiful rhythms. Other steps such as the Mitchell or the Bowman fit perfectly into this step. This step consists of a Drag and the Soldier’s March. This is the step that is taught at festivals the most, but we save it for last because we find it’s the hardest to learn.
11. Rhythm and Rhyme – This section demonstrates how Rhythms and Rhymes can be combined into a mesmerizing effect. This is done to as an example to many of the steps that are taught in the video.
Buck Dancing would be hard to do if you could never learn how to transition from one step to another. Through the use of the Soldier’s March, Rebecca quickly shows you how to transition between the steps. The process of transitions slowly increases throughout the video. This method known as Progressive Transition Strategy (Developed by the ASPS Dance Company) starts the student off with very simple steps and increasingly integrates more complex steps at rate we have found most people can do.
Every time you learn a step you learn a “Layer” of the dance. As the video progresses these layers are added and subtracted so you can feel and learn the different styles and steps. More and more layers are added as you progress more through the video. We are always amazed at how many “Layers” a new student can do by using this method after just one hour.
The ASPS Learn technique has found through 1000s of students that some dance tempos are easier to learn at than others. There’s nothing more frustrating than a teacher who teaches too fast and uses music that goes faster than what you can learn to dance. The “ASPS Learn” stamp requires a music tempo of 96 BPM. Not only is this a very comfortable pace for students to learn at, is a multiple of most people’s heart rate. Although Buck Dancing is considered one of the most vigorous dance forms, using this method, you will be amazed how easy it feels. Even after an hour of learning we find most students are not short of breath and not sweating.
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