Talking Feet (1987)

About the Film

Talking Feet is the first documentary to feature flatfoot, buck, hoedown, and rural tap dancing, the styles of solo Southern dancing which are a companion to traditional old-time music and on which modern clog dancing is based. Featuring 24 traditional dancers videotaped on location in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina.

This film project grew into the 1992 book Talking Feet: Solo Southern Dance of the Appalachian, Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountain Regions, by Mike Seeger with notes by Ruth Pershing.

"Talking Feet is a film about a forgotten side of American dance culture: solo mountain dancing. Mike Seeger and Ruth Pershing take us to the southeastern mountains of the U. S., the source of this genre, and to a range of individuals (old, young, black, white, female and male) who grew up with the idea of talking with their feet. The film captures the deep sense of tradition and the value of freedom of expression these dancers share. Talking Feet is an exploration of a dance form rich in American do-it-yourself pride."

-- Frank Hall, dancer, dance anthropologist.

"Once we started meeting more and more people in different parts of the mountain areas it really opened up what we could do and how we heard the music and reacted to it. . . . They were beating out the rhythms with their feet and really paying a lot of attention to the changing of the phrasing of the music, rather than executing 'precision' steps and trying to do high kicks."

-Rodney Sutton of The Green Grass Cloggers and The Fiddle Puppets

Licensing

For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact Mike Seeger, the distributor Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, or Folkstreams.

Film Details

  • Film by: Mike Seeger
  • Produced by: Mike Seeger
  • Cinematographer: John Hiller. Additional photography: Gregory Larsen.
  • Sound: George Sozio, Jr.
  • Editor: Mike Seeger, Ruth Pershing, Richard Derbyshire, Heath Curdts
  • Other Credits: Associate director: Ruth Pershing. Production coordinator: Richard Derbyshire. Narrator: Paul Brown.
  • Funding: Funding provided by: Smithsonian Institution, Office of Folklife Programs, Office of Telecommunications. National Endowment for the Arts, Folk Arts Program.
  • Original Format: 3/4 inch videotape: U-matic
  • ©1987, 2005, Smithsonian Institution
  • 1 hr 27 mins, Color
  • Categories:
    Dance