For this clogger, it doesn't get much better than a clogging festival on your birthday weekend! Put that festival in the Florida sunshine during February, and POOF! A plane ticket gets purchased.
This was my third time taking the Huntington-to-Orlando-Sanford flight and my second time traveling to the Florida Clogging Festival. It became an accidental tradition to make this trip with a clogger flying for the first time ever, but alas, it was only Evie and me this year...
GUESS WHAT HAPPENED? (Cue the "Small World" music.)
Brandy from the Riverside Cloggers (Point Pleasant, WV) ended up right behind us in the security line! She was about to take the first plane ride of her life, and we got to share the experience with her. (No, Brandy wasn't headed to Florida for the festival. And yes, her hair is gorgeous!) Who wants to take their first flight with Evie and me next year?
The workshop started Saturday morning before the fair officially opened. I never did use my fair pass; there wasn't anyone to take it. Evie's niece dropped me off bright and early - Girl Scout cookie season waits for no one - so I sipped my mocha and enjoyed the sights and sounds. The roosters were in fine crowing form!
South Florida Cloggers were the first dancers to cross my path. They good-naturedly joined in for a photo op. Last year, the competition stage featured a livestock show sign as part of the backdrop and many jokes were made.
The workshop dance floor had great sound and was a major upgrade from clogging on carpet last year. Next year, I suggest bigger speakers. During the most crowded times of the workshop, it was tough to hear over all the taps.
Debby Claxton (front row, far right) sported sneakers instead of clogging shoes due to a broken toe. She still managed to dance like a champ!
The workshop included eight classes. NOTE: Competition dancers do not generally get to participate in the entire workshop due to competition begins two hours before the workshop ends. Registered competition dancers get a discounted rate on the workshop. Last year, I attended three workshop classes before stopping to eat, clear my head, and prepare for competition. This year, I was in the workshop for the long haul! Jamie Conn from Clogging Connection taught one of my favorite routines of the day with a little demonstration help from his nephew, Blake.
The pressure was on for Kyle Kirkland from Clogging Connection as his parents watched him teach a workshop class. No surprise - Kyle did them proud! Congrats also to his teaching assistant and clogging teammate Ale Rivera; she did a fine job leading the back during Kyle's workshop class and she later won second place in her age division for traditional solos.
Competition judge Matt Koziuk and apprentice judge Kaitlyn Hedrick each took a turn teaching a workshop class. Sorry, Kaitlyn - Matt clearly wins the prize for best socks...
Don't be fooled by the sweet smiles: these ladies tried to kill me! Brianna Cassisi and Merrilie Hindsley had the final two teaches of the day. These pros handled their tough timeslots with patience and grace! They managed to get our tired feet and brains performing cute choreography when even basics felt like a challenge.
I somehow missed getting photos of Rebecca Vetter and Paul Melville during their workshop teaches, but you will catch a glimpse of both of them in next week's post about the competition.
Bob served as the workshop sound guy all day long. He doesn't even look tired. Thanks for playing the music at whatever speed we needed it, Bob! (Every clogging team needs a Bob. The Bob on Fancy Free Cloggers teaches beginner classes and fixes our taps. If your team doesn't have a Bob, I suggest you find one immediately.)
Thank you to Andy Howard and other event organizers for a fun workshop day! Come back next week to read about the fair and the clogging competition.
Where would YOU like to travel for a clogging workshop?