It’s still early in the morning when the preparations for afternoon dance classes begin at Cripple Creek Corner. The space is alive with movement and sound; lights are adjusted and equipment is moved from place to place. The studio quickly transforms into a clogging classroom, but it could just as easily have become a space for tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, or theater. Encircling the action are walls awash with color, lined to the gills with ribbons, medals and trophies — paying homage to the resident clogging team’s various successes. While the studio is most known for its competition clogging, there are classes suited to almost any interest and skill level.
Nancy and Jason Aycock are the mother-and-son duo who own and operate Cripple Creek Corner. Their passion for creative expression is no secret, and has clearly passed from one generation to the next. In 1982, Nancy purchased the Spanish Mission-style building on the corner of Walker and Wilmington streets (100 S Walker), with a dream of bringing more performance art to downtown Burgaw. A long time dancer, Nancy ‘shook things up’ when she turned what was once Pender County’s first auto dealership (Holland Ford Motor Company, 1920’s) into one of the first dance studios in the very same county. Jason practically grew up in the studio and as a result is no stranger to the stage.. Now, the duo have forged ahead together, offering quality dance classes with a generous helping of ‘family vibes’.
“We try to be as professional as we can be,” Nancy said., “ …we have teachers here that I would put up against any teacher, anywhere… but at the core of it all, we like to have fun”.
Their classes run parallel to the school year (September to April), making them a no-brainer when it comes to enriching, after school activities.
“I don’t know that Cripple Creek would work everywhere else, but we work in Burgaw”, Jason muses. When Nancy fell in love with clogging shortly after opening the studio, she followed her hunch that it was a niche that would suit the town. A mother of boys, she was specifically excited to teach a style of dance that was more readily accepted as suitable for all genders. Opening the studio to clogging — a style that was largely unknown in the area — meant that boys started enrolling in her classes. When the troop began performing at events such as Spring Fest, the Christmas Parade, and the Blueberry Festival, the cloggers’ infectious joy spread. Suddenly, adults were approaching Nancy and asking if they could learn.
Now, the studio has a team competing up and down the southeastern coast — from Florida to Northern Virginia — and even boasts some fourth generation cloggers.
From day one, the Aycocks have worked to make Cripple Creek more thana dance studio. In keeping with the Burgaw tradition, they have sought to be a welcoming, impactful, and inspirational space for their community.
“Anytime that there is a local event or festival, you can pretty much count on Cripple Creek being involved in some way… the more that we can be a provider for Burgaw and Pender, the better”, Jason said.
Their service to their community does not end with their performances. The studio space itself has played host to a number of courtroom meetings, classes from The Pollywog Preschool and Pender High theater and other community events.
Cripple Creek and the family behind it have created and sustained a space for the whole town, and it’s something you can feel as soon as you swing open their big red door.