Joyce Sorrell: The founder of the Dixie Darlin#039;s

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 25, 2003

Joyce Sorrell grew up in the flatlands of Tennessee.

There was a lot of clogging going on in the mountains to the east, but Sorrell was oblivious to all of that.

Years later, she sat spellbound watching the Green Grass Cloggers at Horse Pens 40 and realized what she had been missing.

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&uot;At that time there were very few organized clogging groups around here, but I knew that I wanted to learn to clog,&uot; she said. And, learn she did.

Sorrell enjoyed clogging so much she wanted to share that joy with others.

She was teaching and coaching at Troy State, so she started a clogging class at the university. The class was so popular that adults in the community heard about it and they wanted in.

Sorrell also formed a clogging team called the Clogging Connection, which was composed of guys and gals who came from all around the area.

&uot;Teresa Rodgers worked at Troy State and she kept asking me to teach clogging to young girls and I kept telling her I didn't have the time,&uot; Sorrell said. &uot;We had so much success and so much fun with the Clogging Connection that I finally decided to teach a class of young girls.&uot;

So, around 1989-90 the Dixie Darlin's were formed.

&uot;We had such a dedicated group of girls and such a dedicated group of parents,&uot; Sorrell said. &uot;They were very interested and worked very hard but enjoyed every minute of it. They were invited to perform at many different places and everywhere they went people loved them. You could see it in their eyes and their smiles as they watched them perform.&uot;

Although clogging is a heritage dance, it was rather new in south Alabama.

&uot;Older people were familiar with a form of clogging - buck dancing - but most people and never seen it and they loved it,&uot; Sorrell said. &uot;Clogging is done to a basic four-count. You dance more on the downbeat. To clog, you have to be very disciplined. Anyone can clog on some level but to reach the level of the Dixie Darlin's you have to be dedicated and willing to work. These girls have reached a level of expertise that not many people reach.&uot;

&uot;These girls&uot; are actually two groups - the Original Dixie Darlings and the New Dixie Darlings.

Girls don't become &uot;Darlin's&uot; overnight. It takes years of practice and performing to become a Dixie Darlin' and probably some of the same Darlin's will be tapping out joyful noise when the next inaugural ceremony take place on the steps of the State Capitol.

And if the New Dixie Darlin's have any say about it, Bob Riley will be the man.