More than two decades after a club was established in the area, clogging is providing extensive benefits to many Virden-area seniors.
Clogging is a folk dance that takes the percussive features of tap dance or jigging and synchronizes it within a group. The basic idea is to stomp a percussive beat alongside the music with shoes clad with metal on the heel and toe. Although not as intricate as tap dance, Virden Clogger member and dance teacher Shirley Kennedy says the style is particularly beneficial for seniors.
“Clogging is totally a mind thing,” said Kennedy, who began clogging with the original formulation of the group and with another club in Brandon.
“With clogging, you have to think about every step because you could have 10 or 12 different steps in the dance. You have to know all the steps and be thinking all the way through. It’s definitely a mind exercise.”
Kennedy can teach the basics of clogging, but her forte is a variety of other dance styles, including line dancing and social dancing, such as polka, two-step, waltz, the Cha-Cha and more. The latter styles are somewhat simpler, requiring dancers to repeat a set of movements throughout a song with minor diversions.
“Clogging has more than 100 different steps. That’s sort of the mind thing; you have to remember the steps to the dance,” said Kennedy. “Years ago, we had to memorize the dance, but we don’t do that anymore. We have a caller who calls the steps.”
Clogging is a form of dance heavily influenced by styles from the British Isles and North America. It gained a toe-hold in the culture of the American South Appalachian Mountain region and further developed into what it is today.
In Virden, the dance club consists of about 20 women over the age of 50. Men are welcome to participate as well.
“We have some nice young ones that are in their 50s,” said Kennedy, a Virden resident in her late-70s. “That’s what we call young because the rest of us actually reach into our 80s.”
Although public performances are rare. Most of the club’s activities take place in the Virden Royal Canadian Legion or Princess Lodge on Tuesdays and Thursdays from September until March. The group has performed at recent Christmas celebrations, but it’s not their intention to make a show of their dancing.
“It gets seniors out to exercise, but the biggest thing is the exercise it gives the mind,” said Kennedy. “Kids don’t memorize anything anymore. This exercises your mind big time. It’s also fun and something to do for an hour after work or whenever.”
Professionally, Kennedy has been a teacher, a housewife and mother, and a furniture sales associate. However, her niche is in the field of dance.
“I have always been involved in dancing. As I got older, I have taught line dancing basics and I teach social dancing with lessons twice a week,” she said. “I guess you could say dancing is in my blood.”
For more information about the Virden Cloggers, email Kennedy at email@example.com.