When 16-year-old Anna Bennett slipped while clogging on stage, she made a split-second decision to get right back up.
Bennett was doing a move called the mountain goat when she whipped out her foot and then fell. But she continued to dance and have a positive attitude – not letting the fall get her down Saturday at the Capital City Clogging Classic at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
“The best way that you get up is the best for you,” said Bennett, who is from Raleigh.
She said it is important to keep smiling and pretend to be confident.
When there’s a slick floor and slippery shoes, falls happen. Dancers often put duct tape on their taps in order to add more friction, but Bennett said she forgot to add the tape before it was her turn to compete.
Judges may take off points for falling, but if they do it for one competitor, then they deduct points for all who fall to be fair, she said.
“But personally, I think it’s the stage’s fault,” said Bennett, who is part of a team called Feet on Fire.
She was one of hundreds of cloggers from South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina who came to Columbia to compete in a qualifying round for the American Clogging Hall of Fame World Championships. Competitors performed both contemporary and traditional clogging.
Bennett’s teammate Kate Mitchell yelled for her friend while she was performing.
“Everybody cheers each other on,” said Heather Barnhart, owner of Capital City Clogging Company, which hosted the event.
Barnhart is currently America’s Clogging Hall of Fame overall female of the year – a top honor that means she gets to clog at the Grand Ole Opry in April.
Clogging is family-oriented, Barnhart said. On Saturday, it looked like there were just as many siblings and parents at the event as competitors.
Mitchell had a couple of generations of supporters. Her grandmother wore a T-shirt that read “Feet on Fire Nana,” and her mom attended as well.
They both encourage her and also use a phone to record her performances so she can watch them and improve, she said.
Mitchell has clogged since she was 7 and enjoys competing in the solo freestyle event. That’s when dancers begin to clog in a line of dancers. Then, each dancer briefly performs individually before rejoining the line.
She improvises the dance and does not even know what her first steps are until she starts dancing, she said.
She also has experience with the move Bennett accidentally performed.
“I have fallen many times,” Kate said matter-of-factly.