got the beat: P&T leader is expert clogger
This is the first installment of "After Hours," a new
monthly feature exploring the noteworthy non-work pursuits of U.Va.
faculty and staff. Please submit nominations for future columns
courtesy of Becca White
she's not helping run Parking and Transportation, Rebecca White
can often be found clogging -- or hanging out with her fellow
cloggers, who she says are like family to her.
White's introduction to what would become her passion came innocently
enough. A friend, a nurse at the U.Va. Medical Center, asked her
to sign up with him for a clogging class offered through Albemarle
County's Parks and Recreation program.
was dying to do it, but he didn't want to do it by himself,"
White recalled one recent morning before heading off to her duties
as the assistant director of
Parking and Transportation. "He dragged me along to class."
was in 1988. Eleven years later, the friend is long gone from clogging,
but White is a mainstay of the Skyline Country Cloggers, a local
love percussion," she says. "I always wanted to play the
drums, but never did. This is so much fun.
totally different from my family life, my work life, everything.
It's full of sound and chaos."
is a style of energetic -- and definitely aerobic -- folk dance
originating in the southern Appalachian Mountains. It is rooted
in the dances brought to the region by settlers from the British
Isles, but it has also been influenced by the traditional dances
of Native Americans and the solo "buck and wing" dance
of African Americans.
are two main schools of clogging in the U.S.: the traditional school,
which remains close to its Appalachian style and typically is performed
to live accompaniment, usually country string or bluegrass bands;
and precision, or modern, clogging, usually danced to recorded music
of a variety of styles.
group -- currently at about a dozen members -- is mostly in the
modern camp, but dabbles in the traditional format as well. They
dance to everything from bluegrass to Gloria Estefan, to rap and
show tunes -- "anything where you can hear the beat."
hardest thing to hear the beat in is bluegrass," because there
are no drums, she said. "The easiest to dance to is rap. Wešll
teach to rap."
says she picked up the basics in about two months. It took about
two more years before she became a solid intermediate performer,
she said, and another two years to make the "huge leap"
to becoming a more advanced clogger.
Skyline Country Cloggers hold one formal two-hour practice session
per week at the Greenwood Community Center, where they receive space
from the county in exchange for teaching the Parks & Rec classes.
There are also informal weekend sessions, when they work on choreographing
their own routines and sometimes modifying routines picked up at
various workshops. White also practices on her own at home, occasionally
with her 6-year-old son, Hank.
troupe performs in several different venues: craft fairs, community
festivals, state and county fairs, corporate events and even company
picnics. At one time, the Skyline group was booked nearly every
weekend from April through October, but its schedule is now "more
leisurely," White said.
highlight of the year is the "Spring Fling in Pigeon Forge,"
a three-day event in Tennessee that draws 2,000 dancers annually
for workshops, exhibitions and competitions.
average clogger is a 13-year-old girl, so we're quite the anomaly
because we have an adult team," she said.
the Skyline group's membership has ranged from eight to 40 over
the years, White said there is a core group that is "ike a
family," often socializing together away from the dance floor.
At one point, five of the women were even pregnant at the same time.
says she's hooked for good. "I'll dance as long as I'm standing