Appalfolks of America Association (AAA) has approved the establishment of Appalfolks Cloggers, a youth dance troupe that will be formed via a partnership with A-1 Dance Studios of Covington.
Part of AAA’s mission is to preserve Appalachian heritage, and clogging originated in the Appalachian Mountains during the 1700s as Scottish, Irish, English, German, and other ethnic settlers formed a mountain melting pot as they migrated from the East Coast.
Akin to the Irish River Dance, clogging which features a firm upper body posture while quick steps are being performed has spread from the Appalachians to around the world.
Unlike tap shoes that feature one tap at the toe of the shoe, the clogging shoe has double taps, one near the toe that is capped by another tap, rendering a distinct difference between the sounds that a tap shoe makes compared to a clogging shoe.
Amanda Patterson Burns, the owner of A-1 Dance Studios at 214 S. Lexington Ave. in Covington who is the newest board member for AAA, has signed up 18 young people to form the troupe.
David B. Davis, chairman of AAA’s board of directors, made a motion at AAA’s Board of Directors’ meeting on Jan. 9, to form the troupe, and Justin Peery, the executive director of AAA’s Virginia Opry, seconded the motion that passed by a 7-0 vote.
AAA plans to hold auditions for forming a new Virginia Junior Opry troupe in 2023, to resume the program that was founded in 1994, to perform in the Historic Stonewall Theatre that AAA owned until donating the theatre to the Town of Clifton Forge in 2003.
During the years that the Virginia Junior Opry program was active, students from 11 Virginia counties participated in the program that held its shows at the theatre in Clifton Forge and traveled to perform at the Rockingham County Fair, Turner Ashby High School, and other venues out of town.
Colton Berry, one of the Virginia Junior Opry’s members from Waynesboro, auditioned for American Idol, and he wound up performing on national TV as one of the “Top Ten” male vocalists.
Jana Allen, another member of the Virginia Junior Opry, has made a career of singing and acting, having performed as a vocalist in Hollywood, at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, Ky. which is the “Home of the Kentucky Opry and the Natural Bridge Historic Hotel and Conference Center. She has performed in more than 20 movies and numerous TV shows.
If the plan goes as intended, AAA’s Appalfolks Cloggers will perform as a component of the Virginia Junior Opry and make guest appearances on The Virginia Opry.
The Virginia Opry which made its debut on stage at the Historic Stonewall Theatre (renamed The Historic Masonic Theatre) in 1992, has been designated as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s official Opry.
On March 31, 2020, Governor Ralph S. Northam signed “Senate Bill 283” that Senator R. Creigh Deeds introduced on Jan. 8, 2020, one that passed the Virginia Senate by a 40-0 vote and the House of Delegates 93-6 to give The Virginia Opry its official designation.