A 2017 recipient of the NEA National Heritage Fellowship and a winner of over 60 first place awards in contests across the region, Thomas Maupin is widely considered Tennessee’s most gifted practitioner of flatfoot buck dancing. Buck dancing is a percussive dance similar to, but older than, tap dance and clogging. Its roots go back to an early American melding of Scots- Irish step dance with African-American dance and rhythm. “I grew up in a large farming family full of dancers,” Maupin says. “I can still remember the sound of my grandmother’s bare heels hitting the floor, right on top of the beat. That made a big impact on me.” He learned the basics of this improvisational dance form as a child and continued to hone his skills throughout his life. Buckdancing – often performed spontaneously on a wooden plank that the dancer carries with him to events – is increasingly becoming supplanted by choreographed, competitive clogging. Maupin states, “Buck dance is typically done with the feet closer to the floor, focusing on sound rather than acrobatics, trying to match the note values of the music.” Maupin believes his apprentice, Jake Fennell of Dickson, TN, is already a fine young buckdancer with “his own body style.” Born into a middle Tennessee dance family, Fennell will continue to advance his development in the flat foot style with Maupin. The team hopes to present their work at Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro, TN and and Bluegrass Along the Harpeth in Franklin, TN.
Watch this page for updates on the team’s progress.