What is Stepdancing?

 

Stepdancing was born in the Ottawa Valley more than 100 years ago.  Every night, lumberjacks brought out their fiddles and threw a board on the ground to tap out the rhythm of an irish jig.
 
It was dance in its crudest form.  Lumberjacks let their feet fly wherever the music took them and often could not remember the steps they danced.
It all began from the heart.  They felt the music and wanted to express it so they just kicked their feet around to the rhythm.
The result was a distinctive style which combined tap dancing and the Irish jig.  Unlike tap dancers who tap their feet to the melody, step dancers tap to the rhythm.
It quickly became an Ottawa Valley tradition for a fiddler and stepdancer to clear the floor of a barn dance or local tavern and beat out the rhythm of a clog, jig or reel.
That's all there was to stepdancing until about 30 years ago when dancers started to refine the dance with carefully choreographed steps and precision form.
Donnie Gilchrist was the granddaddy of stepdancing who is credited with keeping the lumberjack's jig alive!