"They actually sent us an invitation to come," said Trisha Ruff, who started the clogging group with her husband, Walter. "We've performed down there in the past several times, I think it's 12 or 13 times now, maybe 14 times. But they sent us an invitation and requested that we come back. And we had to do the same thing every time. We have to send a video of the group performing two routines. We have to actually audition for them through that video and do the applications and send a picture of the uniforms. Then they select which groups come and which ones don't.
"Down there, you have 25 minutes -- that's getting on and off stage. You have to fit everything into it. They are very, very strict on that. We actually performed seven routines in that 25 minutes. So this year we about overdid because it was really, really hot. It's right there next to [the lake] so the wind was coming off of that and it was nice."
A coed group, Southern Class Cloggers features members ranging in age from 7 to adult. The cloggers include Camden Anich, Kaileen Anich, Colleen Anich, Mary-Kate Billings, Ann Billings, Tim Colston, Dora Moore, Hallie Shepard, Lauren Storey, Cindy Storey, Jessie Temple, Shalley Wilkerson, Patrick Wilkerson, Tori Raymond, the Ruffs and their three children: Brandon, Brianna and Katelyn.
According to a news release from Disney, "Dance groups, choirs, ensembles and marching bands from around the world apply to perform each year as part of Disney Performing Arts at both the Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resorts. Once selected, they are given the opportunity to perform at the resort for an international audience of theme park guests.
"Millions of performers have graced the stages of the Disney parks in the more than 25 year history of the program. Disney Performing Arts offers band, choral, dance and auxiliary performers the opportunity to learn, perform and compete at the Downtown Disney Resort."
For Ruff, performing in the Disney Performing Arts Program through the years has been an amazing opportunity for the Southern Class Cloggers.
"Instead of just doing the fairs and festivals around here where they're just on a standard stage, this is a real performance stage where they have the lights and everything going," she said, adding the group has performed at nursing homes and various festivals ranging from Ellijay to Adairsville. "Those lights are awesome. You don't realize how bright those lights are until you get on that stage. [This is] a huge learning experience. They get to see how professional performers actually get together, get ready, get on stage. How the lights are done. They get to see it all.
"Beforehand they sent us a stage layout. It shows them how they need to stand and where they need to stand and what the stage is like and what the length of the stage is, [so] they can learn how to space themselves. We've got one little girl. She has decided that's all she wants to do. She is going to Disney World to be a performer now, and she really will. In another 10 years she will be down there doing it, I guarantee it. So it really does give them the benefit of what it really would be like to be a professional dancer."
To join Southern Class Cloggers, call 770-387-9102, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the group's Facebook page. The cloggers practice each Monday, 6 p.m., at Ingles, 825 West Ave. in Cartersville.