Dancers share the love of folk dance through community events, workshops and festivals
Delta Digital News Service
Oct. 8, 2023
By Avery Jones | Editor
JONESBORO, Ark. – The Crowley Ridge Cloggers have began an 8-week cycle of beginner classes for people interested in the dance stye. The first held last month is just the first in an 8-week session of lessons that will prepare dancers for upcoming events.
First established in 1980, the dance group competes at both the regional and national level. events and competitions. The group transitioned to clogging from square dancing.
Leona Miller and Kathey Wilson are the instructors of the group. They are both certified clogging instructors by the National Clogging Organization. Both have been with the group since its inception.
Every Tuesday, the group meets to practice at the Earl Bell Community Center in Jonesboro. Practice begins at 6 p.m. and usually last a couple of hours.
“We’re trying to teach these young ones…” Wilson said. “It is an American folk dance, a tradition that we love.”
“It’s a good family activity that typically anybody can do,” Miller said. “You can do it on any level. Start out as a beginner, and some people never get past that and they don’t want to.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the group had a seniors only group . Most participants within the group were 70 years old and up.
Although seniors continue to perform, clogging is not age-specific. Miller said they have had hundreds of people cycling through the group. They don’t have many kids right now but have had them in the past.
In the beginner classes, students learn the basic steps that are the foundation of clogging. Upon completion, participants earn a graduation certificate and the opportunity to join the team for events, workshops, and competitions.
Currently, the group consists of 14 active dancers that put on community performances and workshops, alongside competitions.
They do several events per year. They most recently attended The Arkansas Traveler Workshop in Mountain View and did a performance at The Bungalows, a senior living community in Jonesboro.
Th is fall, the group is set to perform at the Arkansas Rice Festival in Weiner, the Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock, The Harvest Festival in Bono, and the Foothills Festival in Black Rock.
Veteran member Shaina Morgan is pursuing her certification as a clogging instructor. She’s been clogging for 32 years and has been with the team since she was a kid.
Morgan developed a love for the dance while clogging as a child alongside her mother. The duo will often pair together in competitions.
As an instructor, Morgan hopes to not only teach, but share the love of clogging. “I think the main thing is…being able to share my love for clogging and just how fun it can be,” she said. ” I don’t think anyone realizes just how good it is to dance…clogging has always kind of been like a therapy for me.”
“I think the main thing is…being able to share my love for clogging and just how fun it can be. I don’t think anyone realizes just how good it is to dance…clogging has always kind of been like a therapy for me.”
– Shaina Morgan, NEA Clogger
After certification, Morgan plans to stay with the Crowley Ridge Cloggers and become involved with teaching workshops at bluegrass festivals.
“[I just want to] keep it relevant, keep it where people actually know what clogging is and be able to partake…in that whole experience, even if it doesn’t mean that they get to go dance with the team,” Morgan said. “…Maybe it will get them motivated to go find a team in their town to just bring some attention to it.”
Avery Jones is a junior in the Department of English and Philosophy at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. She can be reached at: [email protected]
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Clogging Team preserves American Folk Tradition. Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council