"I'm on a pole!" This was the announcement made by Jim Kimmerly, my 94-year-old clogging teammate, when he arrived at dance class shortly after Memorial Day. The real kicker: He wasn't kidding!
Everything has a soundtrack; why not your clogging life? After much debate, I came up with mine. It dates me, and I care not one bit! Curious to see what others come up with.
8. Walking On Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves)
This song SCREAMS happy! Reminds me of how a new clogger feels, falling in love with the dance. You do double toes EVERYWHERE - the grocery store, school hallways, the gas station, whatever.
(I did a quick search for my 5th or 6th grade clogging picture to add here, but was unable to locate it. Will post later if it turns up.)
With summer weather comes outdoor festival season for cloggers. Commence happy dance! Many teams, Fancy Free Cloggers included, opt for denim and team tee shirts for such shows.
While it may not be as flashy as other costumes, this outfit comes with distinct advantages:
1. No pantyhose!
While Grace is a lovely name, my mama was wise enough NOT to bestow it upon this clumsy clogger...
At Melissa Pack's teach of "Old Time Pickin' " (advanced traditional with buck), I managed to slice my lower shin with a heel tap. Close examination of the cue sheet reveals no such move in the choreography.
Yes, I am an adult who competes in clogging. One problem with this is a shortage of adult teams. While performing in front of other cloggers and getting feedback from judges is always helpful, it isn't exactly impressive to display a bunch of trophies you won because you were the ONLY team in your age division...
This was not the case at the World of Clogging Championships in Cincinnati, OH this weekend! Clogging Premier from Minnesota gave Fancy Free Cloggers excellent competition all day long.
The dressing room of a clogging competition is a crowded, hectic place. Costume pieces flung about during quick changes, bobby pins and safety pins everywhere, dancers making sure they have every piece of the next costume on, a crowd around the mirror, and the smell of hairspray in the air...
The dressing room is also a place to make new friends, and frequently, to witness acts of good sportsmanship.
Sometimes, a dancer just has to take one for the team. I saw examples of this all day long at the Dollywood Clogging Classic, starting with my own director.
Evie opened her garment bag at Sunday's competition and was surprised to discover a wet costume on top. She dug through the bag to find every costume soaked. Remember how it rained all day Friday and Saturday? Apparently, Evie's car had a leaky trunk!
Fancy Free Cloggers were on the road again last weekend with a trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to compete in the Dollywood Clogging Classic! Added bonus: Dolly was in town!!!
I had the pleasure of making this road trip with Jim, our 94-year-old clogger. He is a hoot! We of course sang the chorus of "Rocky Top" when we passed those exits. (I suspect Jim turned off his hearing aids when this happened...) We also made a game of counting Cracker Barrel restaurants; they are EVERYWHERE as you approach the Pigeon Forge area!
True story: I am SUCH a bad singer, a receptionist at work once created an office rule that I was not allowed to sing. An accompanying rule stated that she was not allowed to dance...
This lack of talent in no way stops me from singing terribly in the car, so beware if we ever carpool! It does, however, give me a great appreciation for the singing talents of others. Last weekend, my schedule was filled with music!
As cloggers, we learn to tune it out: The noise, the chatter, the clatter, the taps, the sweat, the cues, the movement, the music...
No wonder our family members sometimes experience overload when sitting in the studio as spectators!
Sessilie Tackett, clogger with Rhythmic Alliance, means business both on and off the dance floor! This award-winning dancer is the creator of Custom Designs By Sessilie, providing unique apparel options for cloggers.
I met Sessilie a couple years ago at the Stompin' Grounds (Maggie Valley, NC), where she was tearing up the competition during Shindig in the Valley. It has been a delight to watch her business grow (Thank you, social media!).
Close your eyes and picture a birthday party for a 94-year-old. Done? Okay, open your eyes.
In your mind, did the birthday boy drive to his clogging studio, strut inside amidst a "king's highway" formed by applauding teammates, and spend the evening eating cake and dancing?
Nope, this is not one of those annoying "you don't know AARP" commercials; this is real life at Fancy Free Clogging Studio!
Running the sound system will never be my strength in clogging class. A full month as DJ Sheila Jo made this quite clear. No surprise to every teenager on my team. They teach me how to use a cell phone on a regular basis...
With my surgeon's okay, I laced up clogging shoes and returned to the dance floor this week.
It's probably not the most difficult or showy step you know, but I bet there was a clogging step along the way that made you feel like you arrived as a dancer. The one you practiced nonstop until it was mastered.
For me, this step was the buck basic. Oddly, I clogged for years before knowing this step existed!
Smoky Mountain Encore Clogging Workshop is worth the drive from Ohio to Tennessee! Or the flight from Florida, or the drive/flight from Canada!
Not only do you get the chance to enjoy Gatlinburg, you have up to ten classes to choose from at any given time during the workshop!
Naomi Fleetwood-Pyle taught an intermediate-level routine to Carrie Underwood's "Dirty Laundry." If you did not take this class, pull out your syllabus NOW and read part C of Naomi's cue sheet!
If the combination of disco costumes, clogging, and the Smoky Mountains is wrong, I don't wanna be right! I'm totally cool with leaving out the bear, though!
Most of my team made the drive from Ohio to Tennessee on Thursday. 'Twas a fantastic day for a drive! (Yep, JT brought sexy back; I'm bringing the word 'twas back.)
Driving to Gatlinburg was actually my first excursion out of the house since surgery last week! My teen passenger was willing to take the wheel for a while if I needed a rest, but that wasn't necessary.
I am not a breakfast eater, certainly not a food blogger, not even a particularly good cook. However, a clogger's gotta eat! Thus is my dilemma most weekends before dance practice.
Practice starts at 1:00 (meaning I need to get there earlier to be READY by 1:00). Fancy Free Studio is about 60 miles from my house, and this clogger likes to get extra sleep on the weekends! I'll leisurely sip a mocha to wake up, which leaves me not wanting real food before it's time to leave. The granola bars I usually pack get old quick. I need SOMETHING to keep up the energy level!
In this final installment of the Florida Clogging Festival story, we discuss the adventures of the Fancy Free Cloggers at the fair and the competition itself! Previous posts discuss our trip from Ohio to Florida for the event and my experience attending the workshop.
The Florida Clogging Festival took place at Osceola Heritage Park.
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!
Fancy Free Cloggers became snowbirds for the weekend as we traveled to the Florida Clogging Festival! We admit to texting a few smug photos to friends and family - it was 22 degrees back home when we took the competition stage! As usual, the trip was an adventure, and we have many stories to share...