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Dance team to appear on reality TV show

‘Down South Dance’ premiers tonight

POSTED: September 26, 2012 4:00 a.m.
Chelsea Thomas Dawson Community News/

Sarah Darby, front center, director of Sole Impulse Dance Studio, leads a quick run-through for members of Synergy, her two-time national championship clogging team that will be featured in a one-hour reality TV show on TLC tonight.

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Reality television shows aren't exactly known for clearing up misconceptions, but one local dance team hopes a new show will tell the truth about the sport.

Synergy, a two-time national championship clogging team based in Cumming, will be featured in a one-hour reality TV show at 11 tonight on TLC.

The show will air immediately after another Georgia-based program, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

The show, "Down South Dance" follows Synergy through an intense training period before a competition with its rivals from South Carolina.

"Basically we're just sick of being asked if we wear wooden shoes and if we do hoedowns," said Sarah Darby, director of Sole Impulse Dance Studio and Synergy.

Darby, who was "born and raised" in Dawsonville, started her studio downtown near Goodson's Pharmacy. It relocated to Cumming in 2008.

"The sport has come so, so far - over the last 10 years even," she said. "We're the back-to-back national champions, and we were just like you know what, this is a great way to show the entire country what clogging really is."

The traditional dance that was once characterized by wooden shoes and barn dance floors has evolved. These days, the dancers incorporate other contemporary dance forms, such as hip hop, into their routines while they move their feet to the beat of popular artists.

"Clogging has always managed to take whatever the current dance craze is and [infuse] it," said Lisa Crow, a clogger whose daughter Mary-Kathleen will be featured on the show.

"In the '70s we had disco, and now we're using hip hop and crunk and street dancing. It's neat because your feet will [do] the clogging and your upper body will [do] the other dance forms."

In addition to Mary-Kathleen Crow, 15, the show also will feature team member Brittany Griggs, 14.

The teens have danced together as duo partners for the last four years and are both standout solo dancers. Mary-Kathleen Crow is a three-time overall national champion solo clogger.

While neither girl is a stranger to the stage, they're both excited to make their TV debut.

"I didn't really ever think I'd be on TV for dancing. But it's cool, it's a good thing to be on TV for," Griggs said.

Mary-Kathleen Crow said the entire experience is starting to feel real.

"I didn't really believe it until they actually came and were actually putting the microphone on me and filming," she said.

According to Darby, there was a little concern about how her team would be portrayed, but overall the purpose behind doing the show was to showcase a dance form and the "huge underworld" of clogging competition teams.

But clogging is about more than competitions and fame for the Synergy dance crew. It's about family.

Darby has been teaching the dance style for 10 years and has kept up with many of her students. She said she feels more like a big sister to her students than a teacher.

"We're more like sisters that dance. It's really like a family environment," Darby said.

Clogger Anneka Byers agrees. An eighth-grader at Riverview Middle School, she has been dancing with Sole Impulse for nine years.

"I have been around them forever and they are like my family. I have always thought it was really fun," she said.

For some, that family environment is a bit more literal.

Mary-Kathleen Crow is part of a three-generation clogging family. Her mother and niece Tori Crow, 6, are all award-winning cloggers.

"Clogging is a huge part of our lives. It's something we do as a family, and our feet never stop moving," said Lisa Crow, adding that they have been known to clog down grocery store aisles.

According to her daughter, clogging keeps the family close.

"We spend all our time together. I can't really get away from them," she said laughing.

Those who want to see Synergy in person won't have to wait too long. The team is scheduled to perform at 3 p.m. Oct. 27 and 2 p.m. Oct. 28 during the 45th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival.

"I have clogged every single year at the Mountain Moonshine Festival since I was 8 years old," Darby said. "I have always felt so supported by my hometown ... now the studio will appreciate all the support we can get."

Staff writer Chelsea Thomas contributed to this story.

 

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