This has been good times for clogging on TV.
The often mocked dance style, which includes elements of folk and tap, is alive in well in the South.
First, “America’s Got Talent” this summer featured the North Carolina clogging group All That. That studly group of guys made it to the semifinals.
Now TLC is testing out a potential show with a pilot called ‘Down South Dance,” which comes on at 11 p.m. tonight right after the season finale of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
In the hour-long special which could be turned into a series, two nationally competitive clogging teams are featured. One, called Synergy, is based out of Cumming at Sole Impulse Dance Studio.The other team, Sapphire, is from Gaffney, S.C. There’s no love lost between the two crews.
Sapphire’s coach Chip Harrison likes to take players from other teams. He considers his team and the Cumming team are like the “Hatfield and McCoys.”
He on the program says he knows he’s “intimidating” and makes no apologies for it.
Sarah Derby, the Synergy coach, said she is “thankful we can represent the sport in a positive way.”
Her team tries to modernize clogging a bit by incorporating elements of hip hop. She even requires the girls on her team to take hip-hop classes.
“It’s been an evolution in the sport over the past ten years,” Darby said. “It’s, in many ways, high-octane tap dancing. It’s very in your face, very fast paced. I’ve done different forms of dance. This is one of the most difficult.”
While she can be tough, she tries to make a family-oriented atmosphere. Some of the kids’ moms compete on adult clogging teams, too. “I have three generations of one family here,” she said.
Two local girls get the most air time: Brittany Griggs, 14, from Dawsonville, who was recovering from a leg injury during taping, and Mary Kathleen “Merm” Crow, 15, from Flowery Branch, who is considered the best on the team. Chip tries to “poach” her for his team.
Darby,a competitive clogger since she was seven years old, describes herself as a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: “When I’m outside the studio and not being paid to be a director, I”m probably one of the most outgoing silly people. But when I’m in the studio, I take my responsibility very seriously. I teach these girls applicable life skills, to teach them to dedicate themselves to something and see their goals through fruition.”
And she will kick girls off the team if they don’t do the work.
“Dance Down South”
11 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26, TLC
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk