BRANSON, Mo. – After performing at Silver Dollar City throughout the summer, buck dancing sensation and national champion Hillary Klug is returning to the Ozarks amusement park this fall.
Buck dancing is the ancestor of clogging. While cloggers perform fancy footwork and choreography to impress their audience, buck dancers do the same while also using their feet as instruments.
Klug has won the Buck Dancing National Championship twice and was invited to be a special judge on last year’s championship panel.
“Each buck dancer has their own unique style,” Klug told The Heartlander. “It is not standardized. It is not formalized.”
In order to catch an audience’s ears and eyes in the beginning, Klug explained, she incorporated her own unique style of buck dancing into the world – playing the fiddle or banjo while dancing at the same time.
After posting a few videos of her unique dancing style on social media she became a hit, and before she knew it had millions of fans across the world. Klug was soon booked for European tours, where fiddle and dance are extremely popular forms of entertainment. Shortly thereafter, Dollywood, symphony orchestras and other large audiences began reaching out to book Klug.
Klug began clogging at the age of 8 and started playing the fiddle in her teenage years. The prodigy from Fayetteville, Tennessee says nobody else in her family plays music or dances, and she believes her skills were a part of God’s ultimate plan for her life.
“By the grace of God, somebody put a fiddle in my hands and it just worked out,” she said.
The Nashville star performed at Silver Dollar City all summer long. She recently left the Branson area to fulfill other tour dates in West Virginia and Canada, but is now planning a return to the Ozarks this fall.
Klug considers her life story both humorous and unexpected. During her college years as an English student, she went to Nashville to perform in a fiddle contest that had no monetary award. She parked her car in a parking garage, not realizing there was a $20 fee. At the time, Klug was a broke college student and didn’t have $20 to spare.
So she wandered to Broadway Street – a live music hot spot for street performers – and put her fiddle case out for tips. She was initially largely ignored, so she began stomping her foot and playing louder to draw attention.
“That kind of worked, but they kept walking by,” she said. “So I realized, ‘I’m gonna have to do something really impressive and amazing to get folks to stop and watch.’”
That’s when Klug decided to try playing her fiddle and buck dance at the same time. She was instantly successful, earning the $20 she needed to leave the parking garage while starting a new fire inside herself.
Klug was so successful performing on the street for tips that it actually helped pay her way through college.
“After two-and-a-half years, I graduated college. I got my degree in English, but I didn’t need it because I was a dancing fiddler. And it’s all because I had to pay for parking.”
After spending much time in Branson, the performer said it has become like her second home, finding major influences in two of Branson’s most popular acts, The Haygoods and The Petersens. Klug says Silver Dollar City’s Homestead Pickers have become good friends of hers and have appeared in some of her viral social media videos.
Klug is excited to return to Silver Dollar City and hopes readers can come see her perform while she is in the Show-Me State. Her show dates are yet to be announced.
“I’ve made so many friends, and I feel like some of these people are family at this point. Everybody is super-loving, encouraging and accepting. It’s a great, wholesome atmosphere.”
Klug has also recorded two albums that can be found on all major streaming music platforms. Visit her website here.