Dollywood Clogging Classic 2018 was a big deal for Fancy Free Cloggers. Three team members danced in their first ever clogging competition, another teammate returned to competition after an absence of many years, and yet another teammate hit the competition stage again following an injury last year.
We brought with us a crowd of spectators unused to watching clogging competitions. Not just family of the new folks, mind you; the allure of Dollywood put more butts in the seats from families of our veteran cloggers as well.
It was interesting and sometimes hilarious to experience this through the eyes of our new dancers and spectators.
Fancy Free loved the Alice in Wonderland routine by 865 All Stars! Tweedledum and Tweedledee especially stole our hearts. As we cheered and clapped, I am told that one of our inexperienced spectators looked around in confusion and asked, "Why are you cheering for the enemy?"
Um, the dancers from other teams are not our enemies; we're delighted to see them! We want to clog each routine to the best of our abilities and hopefully bring home bragging rights, but our opponents frankly aren't in control of that.
Perhaps my perspective is skewed to the sunny side due to being part of an adult team, or maybe it's because we're not regularly duking it out for the ultimate overall prize, but I am delighted to experience friendly competition as the norm in the clogging world.
Shout out to the Hotfoot Cloggers of South Carolina for being wonderful examples of skilled and friendly competitors!
These ladies competed traditional solos in the "and over" age category. Two are my teammates; one dances with Florida Clogging Connection. The backstage atmosphere was full of sincere well-wishes. All three did their teams proud on the dance floor. Congrats to Maureen on her win!
Organizing a competition like this is no easy task. Thank you to Susan (and David) Phillips for your hard work.
It was especially nice for my team that the Master categories all took place on Sunday, leaving us free to enjoy Saturday in the park. Amateur team competition was held Saturday except for 4+ couple precision, acappella team, and show categories, which were danced Sunday morning.
The clogging event took over TWO stages Sunday; Amateur solos and duos/duets in the Heartsong Theater, with everything else taking place in the Celebrity Theater.
While there was a planned order for the day, there were of course snags due to dancers needing to be in both theaters at once. Over at Celebrity Theater, judges and staff were extremely accommodating. If a team wasn't ready, they simply moved on to whoever was ready, and then picked up the skipped routine a couple dances later.
Ann-Marie (and her associates) kept us lined up and dealt with the chaos of dance order. She did a wonderful job!
Shannon the sound man played the correct music and still found time to watch fishing shows on his computer screen.
In addition to competition staff, support crews for individual teams worked hard backstage, especially during the show categories. This prop man is clearly a pro; he has a uniform and everything!
Fancy Free Cloggers felt particularly sassy in our new competition outfits. The purple costumes (including Dustin's shirt) were made by teammate Chris Collins. (She's in the earlier photo of three solo contestants. Yes, she made the blue dress she is wearing in that pic AND Lulu's red dress from our Hee Haw routine AND the blue and yellow dress she herself wore in Hee Haw.) Check out Chris' facebook page, American Stitches, if you are looking for custom costumes.
Our sunshine dresses also made a competition debut! You can't see it in this pic, but Dustin is rocking yellow pants to match.
Fancy Free's new show routine is so much fun to perform! It got a great audience response as our dog and fiddle-playing raccoon stole the show! Looks like the cow better step up her game next time, ha-ha.
Eliza and her daughters did a fabulous job at their first competition! Madison even received special recognition from Jeff Driggs after the hoedown, her first dance of the day.
While it was super cool to see mommy and big sisters on stage, little brother was less enthused about the situation by day's end. I'm sure this facial expression is worn by dance siblings everywhere.
Back to the topic of snazzy outfits: Taps in Motion (from Kentucky) sparkled in gold! They are always a pleasure to watch.
The stage in the Celebrity Theater is wonderful! Roomy, not slippery, and with a lighted "Dollywood" sign in the background. Not sure which team this is (somebody please comment or message me and I'll add their name in), but I enjoyed their "diner" routine.
View of the Celebrity Theater stage from the wings, plus another group of competitors looking adorable and doing a great job! (Power Taps from Georgia? Please confirm or correct.)
Clogging Connection from Florida floated across the stage during this routine! Their ladies snagged a dressing room with toilets, so I was a frequent intruder all day long. Hoping to make it to Florida Clogging Festival again next year, where these energetic folks are a fixture.
My action shots of Evermean Evergreen Cloggers (Tennessee) didn't turn out; I just didn't have a good camera angle. However, Fancy Free Cloggers watched closely because we greatly admire their skill in the traditional categories. A few of us, including teammate Sabrena, snagged photos with Evermean's director in the dressing tent. We look forward to seeing them this August at the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, Tennessee!
Folks who have never been part of showbiz have no idea about the funny things you hear backstage. These two dancers from Southern Belles (Georgia) cracked me up in the dressing tent with a conversation that went something like this:
"Try not to hit me in the head this time."
"I mean, you ARE wearing a hard hat. What's the big deal?"
I'm not doing it justice at all because their perfect deadpan delivery is what really made the exchange funny. Thanks for the laugh, ladies!
Getting out of a clogging competition in time to eat a good dinner? That never happens!
BUT IT DID.
I got to experience the Old Mill Restaurant for the first time. I WILL be back. Those corn fritters with maple butter are worth a drive to Tennessee!
Goodbye, Dolly! We love you, too!
Thanks for a fun weekend of clogging!
Thank you to various cloggers and clogger family members for taking some of the photos used in this post.
Who's making a run to the Old Mill? Bring me back an order of chicken & dumplings, please!