Dancin' on Sunshine: Florida Clogging Festival 2017, PART TWO


Camron Thompson's professional photos of the Florida Clogging Festival are all over Facebook this week! He managed to beautifully capture the moods and moments of teams and individual dancers throughout the competition day. 

Let's back it up to the morning and talk about the workshop that took place before  competition!

Saturday Workshop


My team received passes and a map of the fairgrounds in advance. Finding the entrance gate was especially easy this morning, due to the Clogging Connection team assembling when we arrived! A quick flash of the pass and a mark on the wrist got us into the fairgrounds.


It's my birthday, I'm drinking a free Starbucks salted caramel mocha, I'm in Florida, AND I get to clog all day long. Bring it on!


Registration at this hour was quick and easy, especially since I pre-registered and bought the tee shirt online. My armband, syllabus, and tee shirt were waiting, along with a friendly greeting from Andy Howard, the event organizer!


Erin Hunter taught the first workshop class of the day. She challenged herself to choreograph a routine without any of the standards - no push-offs, no samanthas, no clogover vines. At 9:00 on a Saturday morning, this provided a fun wake-up as we all tried to get our brains into gear!

Tee shirts of fellow workshop dancers displayed team names we just don't see in Ohio. My personal favorite was the Sea Turtle Tappers!

The workshop took place in a single carpeted room and consisted of 8 classes over the course of the day. Participants were notified of the flooring situation well in advance in case that altered shoe preferences. I went ahead and wore clogging shoes without any problems. This is only the third year of the Florida Clogging Festival. The way the event is growing, I'll be surprised if it doesn't include multiple rooms and a dance floor by year five!

Space was not an issue for the first class, but the floor got crowded by late morning. A higher stage for the instructors next year would be good. Whenever I wasn't in the front couple rows, I couldn't see the teacher's feet at all. Relying purely on verbal instructions with no visual can lead to interesting interpretations of dance steps! Short girl problems...


Kaley Conn taught the next workshop class with demonstration assist from teammate Kyle Kirkland. These two make great partners as instructors and as performers - they dominated the competition duet categories!

I'm pretty sure the dictionary displays Kyle's photo beside the definition of "friendly." He individually welcomed and had something nice to say to every single member of my team before the Florida Clogging Festival ended. Thanks!

I enjoyed two more classes, taught by Debby Claxton and Dalita Peeler, before stopping to eat lunch, explore the fair, and get my head cleared for competition. A few steps from the workshop were similar to steps in our competition routines, so those needed to be pushed to the far recesses of my mind.

Afternoon workshop instructors included Kristy Fitzpatrick, Dustin Stephan, Paul Melville, Tiffany Riner, and Katie Stakely. Sorry I missed those!

TREND ALERT: Apple Jacks are making a comeback!

I've never focused on learning this step because it hasn't been in any routines my team performs. It takes time to get the weight shifts, so I have fudged my way through it in the past and moved on. No more! I have attended two workshops so far in 2017, and both included a dance with apple jacks. Time to learn it! Here are some instructional videos for the folks who want to join me in adding this step to the repertoire!

The genius in this first video comes from learning the step while seated to get the mechanics before trying it in the standing position.

This video has the added bonus of a French lesson! Plus, it's adorable when the instructor gets down to camera level at the end to say goodbye!

Other things to note about the Florida Clogging Festival workshop:

TEE SHIRTS! I love it when you can see the shirt design and available options in advance! They offered a tee shirt and a flowy tank this year. I bought the tee shirt and am very pleased with the quality. It's one of those soft shirts, not a cheap, scratchy brand. I suggest ordering in advance so you don't have to worry about your size selling out.

THE SYLLABUS! One booklet served as workshop syllabus and competition program. A bonus section in the back contained cuesheets for classic fun dance routines, perfect for my National Dance List Challenge!

THE INSTRUCTORS! Andy recruited a talented bunch to teach workshop classes! If you missed the festival this year, Sarah Dahl was kind enough to post videos of the routines on her YouTube channel.  Thanks! Added-bonus-that-isn't-really-a-bonus-at-all: You can catch glimpses of me displaying all of my usual dancing grace in the video of Erin's routine. Oops! I SO would've backed up if I had known...

THE COST! Very reasonable, especially for registered competition dancers! I'm sure the price will go up as the event grows and accrues additional expenses, but it could go up significantly and still be a bargain!

Andy recently announced the good news that Florida Clogging Festival is expanding to TWO days next year! Mark your calendars for February 10 and 11, 2018!

We are all expected to master Apple Jacks by then. There will be a test!

I still haven't gotten to the stories about the fair or the competition. The adventures in Florida cannot be contained to only two blog posts! 

To Be Continued...

What steps do YOU need to stop fudging and finally learn this year?