MALONE — Andrew Perry has been clogging his way around the North Country since 2006 — as a student, a teacher and a performer for charities and entertainment.
He wasn’t quite prepared, however, for a call he received in March that will take him and his band of dancers across the Pacific Ocean to clog at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The event’s organizers can choose only five of 200 possible groups. Organizer Preston Hancock saw Andrew’s name in a clogging magazine and, as they say, the rest is history, — or will be this December.
“When I got the call, I thought it was a scam,” said Andrew, 19, who lives in Dickinson Center.
“I even called the governor and mayor’s offices (in Honolulu) to make sure it was the real thing. When I shared the news with the group, they were dumbfounded!”
WILL OPEN FAIRS
The Drew Crew Cloggers has 32 members. Eleven will dance in Hawaii, and two “senior” dancers will also travel with them as honorary dancers. The seniors are Betty Swamp, who is 81, and Bernice Lazore, who is in her 70s. Both still dance locally when they can. In addition, nine family members will accompany the dancers, but they will pay their own way.
The trip for 13 comes with a hefty price tag: $19,700 for five days, four nights, about $1,700 a person, to march in a parade and perform at two additional venues. But Andrew said the exposure to the Hawaiian culture and the contacts made can come in useful for the dancers in the future.
They have been fundraising since he got the call.
“So far we’ve raised $5,000 toward the goal,” said his mother, Tina Andrews-Perry, who Andrew admits is their biggest supporter. “We’ll be holding several fundraising events from now until this fall, plus they will be appearing at fairs and other places this summer.”
The cloggers have been asked to perform at the opening ceremony of the Clinton County Fair on July 17 and the Franklin County Fair on Aug. 4, where they will accept donations toward the trip. Planned fundraisers include a car wash at Walgreens in Malone on July 21, a bottle drive, with drop off also at Walgreens on Sept. 8 and a golf tournament, with lunch, at Highland Greens in Dickinson on Sept. 29.
Andrew, who is modest about his own skills, has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. He took his first clogging lesson in 2006 at a six-week class in Brushton. He had never danced before, but knew after the second week it would be part of his life forever.
He is the youngest certified clogging instructor in the United States, having earned accreditation from C.L.O.G., in Gatlinburg, Tenn. His final test mark was a never-before attained 100, and he was one of the fastest dancers to complete accreditation. He serves on the Western New York Clogging Association Board and teaches dance in Malone and Massena to children as young as 3 and seniors into their 80s.
“Clogging isn’t like ballet, hip-hop or tap,” he said. “They have very restricted moves, and they have to be perfect. Clogging has come down through generations of family tradition, and there are different moves in different parts of this country and even Canada. It has deep roots.”
He is quick to point out that even though the group is going to Hawaii, this isn’t a vacation. It will be exciting but strenuous, enjoyable but serious.
“It’s a marvelous place to perform, in Pearl Harbor on Pearl Harbor Day,” he said.
“Performing there for the veterans and representing the North Country is huge.”
They can be reached at 529-6157 or at www.drewcrewcloggers.com.
Email Susan Tobias: email@example.com