Local skier switches with clog dancer in reality show
Northstar ski instructor Kemp Dowdy had no idea early last week that just a few days later he’d be standing on stage in front of 2,500 people wearing a sparkly dance outfit.
Dowdy, 25 of Truckee, was half the focus of a four-day taping of the ABC Family channel show “Switched Up” last week that not only landed him in a flashy little number, but also made him the mother of a 13-month-old baby and a professional clogger.
The other half of the program was Heather (show producers wouldn’t give her last name), the actual mother and clog dancer, who lived Dowdy’s life for a few days on the slopes at Northstar.
“He’s an adrenaline junkie, and she owns a dance studio and specializes in clogging,” said “Switched Up” director Larry Grimaldi while taping at Northstar last week. “She flew in and Kemp left for Georgia. They knew nothing about what they were going to do until they arrived at their destination.”
The premise of “Switched Up” is just that: Two very different people exchange lives for a few days, and a camera crew follows them around to document it.
Dowdy didn’t even know the gender of the person he was going to switch with until right before he left for Heather’s home in Buford, Ga.
When Dowdy knocked on Heather’s door, her grandmother answered and handed him Heather’s baby.
“She said, ‘OK Kemp, you’re going to be a mom for a few days.’ Luckily, Heather’s mom and her husband were a lot of help, but I had to change diapers; it was interesting,” Dowdy said.
Then, Dowdy moved on to Heather’s dance studio, where he learned a clogging (American folk dance, similar to tap dancing) routine. He even had to instruct a clogging practice.
After he got the routine down, Heather sent him a message saying he would be leading her dance team – called the Southern Belles – in a South Carolina competition in front of a lot of people.
“They announced it: ‘Here are the Southern Belles, featuring Kemp Dowdy!’ I got up there and I did the routine,” Dowdy said.
The next morning, Heather’s sister Blake – a professional clogger in Atlantic City – took Dowdy to get a pedicure, another new experience for him.
“From the time I got up to the time I went to bed, the camera crew was around,” he said. “Everything was on film.”
Meanwhile, back in Tahoe, Heather taught a ski class, had some drinks at the Alpine Bar, hung around with Dowdy’s four roommates and went out to the Blue Coyote – the typical things Dowdy does in Truckee.
On Friday at Northstar, it was Heather’s second time on skis (the first time she was 15), and while the cameras were rolling, she fell – a moment almost everyone in America will have the opportunity to see.
Dowdy had one of those moments, too. However, it’s not America he’s worried about.
“I reckon my friends around here are going to get a kick out of me in my little outfit.”
“Switched Up” airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. on the ABC Family Channel. The episode featuring Kemp Dowdy should air late April or early May.
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