© 2019 Florida Clogging Council

Andy Howard

2015

NOMINATION MADE BY:
PAT BEDINGFIELD & COUNTRY RHYTHM CLOGGERS:     

      The Country Rhythm Cloggers and I would like to nominate Andy Howard for the 2015 Florida Clogging Hall of Fame.  He is deserving of the honor and has been promoting and representing clogging in the United States and abroad for many years.

      Andy began clogging with the Country Rhythm Cloggers at a very young age, was a quick learner,  displayed a talent for helping to choreograph dances and offering suggestions after his first year of clogging.  That’s when I knew that he would become great clogger.  After a few years he joined the Sidekick Clogging Team and clogged with them until they dissolved the team.

       Andy approached me about starting a teen class at the LaBelle Program Center when he was a Junior in High School and he taught that class until he started college at the University of Florida.  During the two years he taught his teen team they became accomplished cloggers and when he left for college I was pleased to have them join the Country Rhythm Cloggers.  Andy taught at several studios in Gainesville, and formed his own group of American Racket, which is still active today.  He also went to FSU and studied performing arts and earned his masters degree, while teaching clogging at Florida State, still maintaining his competition/travel team.

       Not only has his team performed at several theme parks and festivals in Florida, in North East United States and at numerous competitions; he has also taken his team abroad to different countries, representing the United States and promoting the art of clogging.  He also teaches at workshops all over the United States sharing his love of clogging through his dances and encourages others to clog.

      What stands out to me most is his love of clogging, which began with his first clogging class at a very young age.  It shows each time he performs or talks about clogging.  He has taught many children and adults to clog in Florida and has touched many lives through clogging.

       After a suggestion from another Instructor that we needed a Clogging Competition in Florida, Andy set up  a Clogging Competition and Workshop in Florida, held in February.  This was done within a month or two of the suggestion.   Setting up a Competition required a lot of research of the Rules and Guidelines of Forming a Competition, which are quite extensive. He then went a step further by researching and composing a list of all active Florida teams, sharing that list with all the teams, and continues to update this list.  

       The community of LaBelle, Country Rhythm Cloggers and I am very proud of Andy and all of his accomplishments and feel very strongly that he should be inducted to the Florida Clogging Hall of Fame for all he has done and continues doing to promote the art of clogging in the United States and abroad.

      We feel he is very deserving of this honor and would like to nominate him for the Florida Clogging Hall of Fame and hope you will consider our nomination.

Thank you,
Pat Bedingfield

Second Letter of Three: 
 

Dear Florida Clogging Council Hall of Fame Review Board, 

For the 2015 Hall of Fame, I cannot think of someone more deserving than Andy Howard.  There are so many reasons why, it’s hard to know where to begin.  

Perhaps I should begin with how I know Andy.  Over ten years ago, Andy and I were students at the University of Florida.  We knew each other through student activities, but I had no idea he clogged or really what clogging was.  A mutual friend of ours suggested that I come to a clogging class one weekend since she knew I had danced all my life and tap had always been my favorite.  Funny part is, I ended up going and she bailed last minute.  I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but had a blast.  Little did I know this weekend clogging session would change my life! I had no idea I would find my true dance love, my passion, my favorite hobby and most importantly, a best friend.  I was hooked from the first step in the studio and because of Andy’s enthusiasm and encouragement, I kept at it.  He really has this unique ability to get anyone excited about whatever he is doing, as I am sure most of you have seen or been apart of.  

Only a few months into my clogging adventure, Andy invited me to join him at the LaBelle Workshop.  I remember him telling me that workshops are a great way to learn and grow (which is more than true) – so I went.  This was, I believe, our first road trip and clogging weekend.  Now that I look back, it’s fitting that LaBelle was my first clogging weekend experience.  LaBelle is where it all started for him and to go back to his roots makes complete sense.  That weekend I learned what clogging really is.  It’s not just steps and performing; it’s family and friendship.  It’s belly laughs and a happy heart. It’s an unexplainable and wonderful joy. I can honestly say the clogging family is my second family.  I can’t even describe it but I don’t think I have to.  You, my clogging friends, know what I mean. We welcome with open arms, we cheer each other on, we love and support each other, we get together, we eat good food, we laugh (hard), we are sad when our get togethers come to an end and yearn for the next one…we are family! There is absolutely no way I would be here or know this amazing feeling without Andy Howard. He was the one who made sure I felt welcomed.  He is the one who has truly captured the spirit of clogging and passed it along, introducing as many people as he can to it.  He has helped our clogging family grow.   

Now let’s talk about Andy.  Andy lives and breathes clogging. His passion for the art is immeasurable.  I, for one, know that he even wrote his masters thesis on the history of clogging.  He dove into the history of it beyond what you could imagine. This included traveling and talking to many cloggers of the past and present.  He devoted years and countless hours to it, beyond what is expected for a thesis.  He also has done a performance piece that highlighted clogging in LaBelle and mixed it with dance steps, a unique and abstract performance.   He really devotes his energy to clogging, which I am thankful for. Without it, there might not be a continuation of stories from the past and I, for one, really like hearing about all these stories and the history of clogging.  It’s people like him who continue the traditions, teaches the history and the steps and helps it transition so it’s around in the future. 

Not only is his passion immeasurable, it’s also very contagious.  Between his love for clogging and infectious personality, anyone who meets Andy can’t help but want to join in the fun.  Perhaps this is why; there are many dancers who want an opportunity to dance and travel with American Racket, his team.   

American Racket is a unique team.  There is a solid group of Florida dancers but the team is also comprised of dancers from all over the United States, many who perform at professional levels.  We come together in different performance locations.  Many of the times, dancers are meeting for the first time one day and performing the next; however, you wouldn’t even know.  We learn through private YouTube videos prior to performances (that Andy spends countless hours recording and posting) and go with the expectation to practice countless hours before performances.  It’s quite interesting to experience and probably super interesting to watch as an outsider.  Andy really brings us together.  People can hardly believe when they find out we are from up to nine different states and how the basis of American Racket works. It’s hard to believe probably because American Racket continually puts on a showcase of traditional choreography, partner work and figures using a strong stage presence, performance faces and high energy at every performance.  It’s what Andy promises to events and audiences and what he expects from his dancers – and he gets it every time.  

He has set a precedence of elite when it comes to American Racket, which people and dancers have come to know.  It follows in the footsteps of how clogging was to him growing up.  You work hard so you can one day be asked to move up and join the more advanced dancers, which typically travel and perform.  He runs American Racket very similar to this and it works.  It becomes a goal for young dancers and privilege for those who get asked. Through American Racket and how it is ran, I believe, he has become even more respected in the clogging world, as well as in the performing arts arena as a whole.  

What American Racket has become known for is bringing the clogging tradition to folklore festivals in and out of the country.  The CIOFF (International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts) folklore festivals American Racket attends are comprised of dance groups from all over the world representing their country.  American Racket serves as American Ambassadors and presents traditional American Clogging to audiences from school children to big tops with thousands of people.  With each performance, the team guarantees a toe-tapping, hand-clapping good time for all and a celebration of what young adults are doing to revive and reinvent the dance culture of the United States (I borrow this last part from our website J).

American Racket has traveled to Brazil, Costa Rica, Canada and Korea, as well as around the United States.  The team (some under the original name of SoundStage) has opened for artists such as Bill Cosby, Sugar Ray, Ted Koppel, Dane Cook, Jimmy Lovelace, and Wayne Brady. We’ve danced at events at SeaWorld, Hard Rock Casino, Orlando Fringe Festival, the University of Florida’s Gator Growl – to name a few.  We have also competed at the state and national level, with many grand champion wins. 

Andy has really put American Racket out there and has made a name for our team. From the high caliber performances, to the pristine, traditional costumes, to the elite dancers he has recruited, it’s something the clogging world should be proud.    Any dancer who has danced and travelled with American Racket will probably tell you it was the best experience they’ve ever had (they probably won’t be able to put it into words though but they will save it was life touching/changing), they are proud of their performances and had experiences beyond what they would have ever done on their own as far as traveling. It’s definitely a special team directed by a great director.    

I could go on and on about Andy.  As you probably know, I am one of his biggest cheerleaders.  But I will leave you with one more example of his contributions to the clogging world, specifically the Florida one. And that is - The Florida Clogging Festival Competition and Reunion.  After not having a Florida competition and there being multiple conversations about it, he has put all his effort into bringing back what once was.  Within a short amount of time, he has breathed life back into a popular event that used to be, but with a twist.  He has spent countless hours planning every specific detail, he has researched, and he has recruited help and support – all to make this a successful event.  Not only is he hosting a competition, but offering a workshop to include others who want to attend but not compete.  He has activities planned for non-dancers as well so the whole family can come.  He is trying to restore that it’s a family affair feeling and bringing our clogging family all together to celebrate and do what we love the most – clog! He has even gone as far as to locate every single team in the state of Florida so he can share their names with people who might be looking in that area.  He has really given a lot of himself to make this event perfect.  It’s a week away so I can’t report how it goes but I don’t have to, I know it will be fantastic! Something he should be really proud of. 

Andy is such a great and beautiful person.  He is one who never meets a stranger. He is gifted and blessed with an incredible talent that he not afraid to share with the world.  He carries on traditions that his old instructors taught him but also brings in his creativity and knack for choreography. He fights for the survival of the art and keeps traditions going.  He respects the history, yet is innovative and creative to add to the future.  He is a pillar in the clogging world.  He pours his heart and soul into something he (and we) love so much. He’s touched many lives and spreads the joy of clogging and the beauty of the clogging family to people everywhere. 

Thank you for your time and consideration on this nomination! And for what each of you brings to our clogging family.  

Sincerely, 

Erin Hunter

American Racket Clogger

Sugarfoot Family Clogger

FCC Member

In case you wanted to see his dancer resume. This resides on the American Racket website. 

 

 



ANDY HOWARD

Performance and Choreography

Andy Howard started clogging at age 8 in his hometown of LaBelle, in SW Florida.  As a young performer, he was a member of Sidekick Cloggers, frequent entertainers at Dollywood theme park and various regional and national events.  Andy founded SoundStage in 2001 while attending University of Florida; the original group comprised students and regional dancers specializing in clogging, tap and other forms of percussive dance.  In 2007, the group relocated to Central Florida and adopted the name "American Racket," originally the name of a performance organized and choreographed by Andy for the Orlando International Fringe Festival. Andy was inducted into the All-American Clogging Team in 2002, administered by the American Clogging Hall of Fame.

Andy has taught clogging and other forms of dance since 1995.  He organized and taught courses for credit at Florida State University Department of Dance and has been a featured presenter and/or choreographer for Santa Fe College, University of Florida, Florida Dance Festival, Douglas Anderson Fine Arts Magnet, and Florida Folk Festival.  Andy has been a regular featured instructor at the National Clogging Convention (C.L.O.G., inc.) in host cities across the nation and at various conferences and workshops organized throughout the country.

Performance credits include Walt Disney World Resort (cast member and special entertainment), Carolina Opry with "All That" male clogging ensemble, Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, Six Flags Over Georgia, "Good Morning, Costa Rica" television show, and University of Florida Gator Growl; other performances with American Racket, including clients/events such as GoodYear Tires, SeaWorld Orlando, HardRock Casino, National Association of Home Builders, Crisco's Great American Pie Festival, Orlando International Fringe Festival, and American Camp Association.  Howard and American Racket have shared the stage with popular entertainers including Bill Cosby, Sister Hazel, Kenny Lovelace, Jimmy Osmond, Ted Koppel, Dane Cook, and Harland Williams; Andy and American Racket, under his direction, have represented the United States as "cultural ambassadors" at international festivals sanctioned by C.I.O.F.F. (International Council of Organizations for Folklore Festivals and Folk Art, affiliated with U.N.E.S.C.O.: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in Costa Rica, Brazil, and Canada (Quebec).  Additionally, Andy has performed in Manatoba, Canada, and at the University of Bangor, Wales, UK.

Education

Andy holds a B.A. from the University of Florida College of Libaral Arts and Sciences and a M.A. in American Dance Studies from the College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance at Florida State University. At FSU, Andy participated in "FSU in NYC," a domestic study program bringing students in direct contact with leading arts organizations, resources, and administrators in New York City. "Step Into My Groove," choreographed by Howard, Sterling, and company, was featured in the juried "Days of Dance" concert program.

Andy's thesis research, "American Team Clogging as Pilgrimage and Heritage Ritual" was approved and published by Florida State University, available at Strozier Library and online through FSU's Electronic Theses, Treatises, and Dissertations (ETDs). 

Arts Administration

As an arts administrator, Andy lead Alumni Affairs and Marketing for the University of Florida College of Fine Arts, comprising School of Art + Art History, School of Music, School of Theatre and Dance, Digital Worlds Institute, Center for World Arts, and Center for Arts in Healthcare Research and Education.  Andy was the Editor of Muse Magazine, published by the UF College of Fine Arts.  Previously, Andy served as Marketing Manager for Orlando Repertory Theatre (a "theatre for young audiences" in partnership with University of Central Florida) and as Director of Public/Community Relations and Education for Orlando Opera Company.

Production/Media

Andy received a Telly Award as producer of "Beyond The Music," a documentary with Orange TV, and also produced "Orlando Has Culture" with WMFE-TV (Orlando/Melbourne/Daytona) which has been used widely to promote arts and culture in Central Florida by organizations such as the City of Orlando Department of Economic Development, United Arts of Central Florida, Red Chair Project, and University of Central Florida College of Arts and Humanities.  Andy was a guest reporter on WMFE-TV's "Arts Connection" and has appeared on "Cultural Advantage," "Community Cafe" and "Good Morning, Costa Rica."

Honors and Affiliations

All American Clogging Team (American Clogging Hall of Fame)

2010 All American Clogging Team of the Decade

United Arts of Central Florida Arts + Awards:  Collaboration and Opperational Excellence

American Cancer Society "Unsung Hero" Award

Telly Award Recipient

Leadership Orlando Class 75

Orlando Regional Fly-In (Tallahassee)

NASA Public Relations Volunteer

Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitor's Bureau:  Public Relations and Membership Committees

Alachua County Hospitality Association

Gainesville/Alachua County Visitors & Convention Bureau Marketing Committee

Florida Blue Key Alumni (University of Florida)