Clogging attracts young and old alike at Washington Middle School.
The newest and most enthusiastic group of dancers started classes in the fall. Molly Busch, 7, the youngest clogger, came as a friend of Ronda Wintheiser and her two daughters, Jessica and Carissa. There are eight newcomers in all, including Peggy Jensen and her daughter Cindy and Dawn Bolduc and daughter Abby.
"The newcomers will soon be catching up to us," said Carolyn Bye, founder of the Crow Wing County Cloggers. "They practice often at home and it shows."
What is clogging? No, it's not clogged up pipes, but a rhythmic dance where time is kept with the heel. Scottish coal miners brought the energetic dance to the Appalachian region of the U.S. and since then Irish, German, French, Native and Afro American influences have all been added.
Lined up and ready to clog, members of the beginners group of the Crow Wing Cloggers waited for the music to begin.
Officially, the Crow Wing Cloggers started on Jan. 16, 1993, when Bye invited the Mississippi Timber Cloggers to come to Brainerd. A demonstration workshop was held at the Brainerd Elks Club. "We videotaped the session and went from there on a wing and a prayer."
"I guess my prayers were heard," said Bye referring to the turnout at that first workshop. That is also when Joyce Specht, the group's lead instructor, came on board. Since then, Bye and Specht attended a few more workshops and now come up with their own choreography for the group's numbers.
At one time they had 42 Crow Wing Cloggers, but that number has leveled off to about 20 dancers.
The cloggers meet on Tuesdays in the cafeteria at Washington Middle School. Beginners dance from 4-5 p.m. and intermediate/advanced at 5-6:30 p.m. The fee is kept affordable at $1 a session. The public is invited to come and give it a try.
The Crow Wing Cloggers perform their traditional clogging at area events throughout the year.
"It's a great cure for cabin fever," Bye said.
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