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On the Job: Clogging Instructor

Sandusky Register Staff • Jul 24, 2012 at 6:55 PM

By Tyler Buchanan

Sandusky Register intern

I had no idea what to expect of my first lesson with the Christian Cloggers Dance Team in Huron.

As I forced my size 11 feet into size 9 dance shoes, the buck taps clapping wildly underneath, I watched members of the team arrive and join together in a routine.

When the lesson began, we shared one thing in common. They were skilled, experienced dancers, and I had once heard of dancing.

Donna Neer, the group’s director and choreographer, gave me a crash course in clogging routines and dancing history.

“Listen to this song and see if it doesn’t stir you,” she said with a smile.

The dancers stomped, clicked, tapped, glided and kicked across the tile floor in unison, their feet in continuous, deliberate motion. The song is a traditional Irish jig which transitioned into a methodic, electronic swell.

“When people think of clogging they think of fat ladies in wooden shoes ... not with me,” Neer said. “Actually, the best cloggers are men.”

In her five years with the Christian Cloggers, Neer has written more than 30 routines and instructed countless dancers. The group serves as a faith-based ministry and performs year-round at area nursing homes and county fairs.

The newest honorary member — this Register intern with an increasing awareness of an accompanying photographer — was ready to join in.

In case you’re wondering, clogging is not taught in journalism school. Although I do have one more year of classes, so perhaps a dancing curriculum awaits me.

Want to give clogging a try? Call Donna Neer at (419)366-0471 or Pam Thompson at (419)357-0547

Clogging revolves around a few “simple” moves, which when sped up and joined together create long, intricate routines.

If you’re reading this without a Register photographer monitoring your progress, consider trying this yourself.

The “double toe step” kicks your heel forward and back, making a double tapping sound. This is followed by a “rock step” by the other foot, a single tap with the opposite heel.

These two moves combine to form a “basic step.”

I had the moves in my head, but my feet had a brain of their own.

I soon realized the joy of dance, particularly clogging, is about connecting the mental to the physical.

Getting your focus and memorization of choreography in synch with two small taps on each heel and toe is not easy, especially to the tune of Elvis Presley’s “Stuck on You,” which plays at around 150 beats a minute.

A solid pair of clogging shoes with taps installed sells online for less than $100.

Fire up “Rocky Top (Tennessee),” the “National Anthem for Cloggers,” find a nice tiled or wooden floor, and try it yourself.

Or, perhaps, give Donna Neer a call.

As the group’s motto says: “There’s no charge for lessons.”

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