watervole: (Default)
 I've come across a new UK folk music site.

It's in its early days, but it looks promising.  I'll be interested to see how they develop it.  They seem to be covering everything from morris to musical instrument makers.

They've also posted some footage of Quayside Cloggies, though it happened to be of the one dance session that day that  I wasn't in...

(I can't dance 'Blues and Pinks' at present.  Tilting the hoop sideways makes my elbow hurt)

They've also got an Anonymous Morris video there now.
watervole: (Morris dancers- watch out)
I've been pondering on what makes a traditional dance, and I've come to the conclusion that it's any dance that has been performed over a long period of time and is performed by amateurs as well as professionals. (in my book, it isn't a traditional dance until it has been adopted by the community and carried on by it). For example, I would define ballet as a classical dance form, not a traditional one.

Morris is definitely a traditional dance. It's a good 600 years since it escaped from being performed at court and moved out into the community. Irish dance is traditional (the fact that professionals also do it does not remove the long folk involvement).

Tap dance is marginal. I haven't quite made up my mind about that one. Tap has roots in traditional dance forms like Lancashire clog, and has probably contributed to some traditional forms (Appalachian clog includes steps from all over the place and English clog dancing often draws on steps from music hall routines, etc.) Step dancers see good steps and adopt them and there's interaction in both directions.

I think there's a case for calling the sand dance a traditional dance although it has its origins in music hall. The best known sand dance performers were probably not the first, but they certainly were the ones to establish the dance in the public mind.

Wilson, Keppel and Betty (the identity of 'Betty' changed over the years) performed their sand dance over a period of 30 years from the 1920s through to the 1950s, and they (even if people can't remember the names) will be the act that comes to mind whenever anyone thinks about the sand dance.

This clip is reasonable quality, though it only shows part of the act: (and considering how old the film has to be, it's very good)



This one shows the first part as well (note the costume change)

However, for a dance to fit my definition of 'traditional', it has to carry on beyond the original performers.

This is where I have to apologise for a terrible quality clip. I've seen the Fez Heads perform the sand dance on more than one occasion, but I can't find a good video version. (You'll note that their costume seems to be based on the second Wilson and Keppel clip)

But the dance is alive and kicking elsewhere. Amateur performances pop out of the woodwork here and there. I greatly enjoyed this one to the song "The Old Bazaar in Cairo". And here's another one that made me smile (delightfully camp). (I'd embed these two, but embedding is not available for them)

By now, you'll have noticed that the sand dance is not always performed with sand (it works best when it is, but this isn't always practical). A dance with sand is not always the sand dance, as this example of a totally different dance done with sand demonstrates.

So, dancing with sand is probably a tradition in more than one country, but the 'sand dance' has to involve steps that remind one of Egyptian murals (steps can vary quite a bit, but there's one step that I'd regard as compulsory - and the various versions do all seem to include it). The sand dance, therefore, is a traditional comic dance, originating in music hall, that should best be performed in a deadpan face, but with a cheerful awareness of how camp it is.

Anyone fancy doing a sand dance for the Odyssey cabaret?
watervole: (Queen of Voles)
Who else is planning on performing in the Redemption cabaret?  I already know of at least two other definite acts, and that's just people I've spoken to in the last couple of weeks.

I'm starting to work on a poi routine (but I need to see if my eldest son can splice the exact music I need from my CD as there's a long intro that isn't relevant).

[livejournal.com profile] katlinel  mentioned that she was using a song about the end of the world, so I've decided to try and work out a routine to Tom Leher's song "We'll all go together when we go".  (If that doesn't work right for the timing, then I'll find another song)  It's delightfully tasteless and very funny.

Having learnt a broom dance at the molly workshop I went to, I'm tempted to try that as well.  Ideally, this would need two things (in addition to a broom).  It would need a musician who can play for it - most standard folk dance tunes will work - and someone else to join in.

A broom dance if often competitative in nature. The first dancer does a figure, and the second dancer attempts to copy it.  IF they both get it right, there's the option of speeding up the music...

I'd love to try and get my sons doing this.  They've both got the build to be really good broom dancers (leggy and flexible) and I'm willing to bet they can manage a figure that most broom dancers (including me) wouldn't dare attempt.  And they're very competitive with one another....  Evil grin!

watervole: (concertina)
I'm not very keen on Steve Knightly, even though he's a very talented singer - and here's one reason why.  He edits history, in his songs.
I once went to a workshop he was running and he expressed surprise that many people had gone to visit a particular church yard because he'd added a line to a song saying that a particular person was buried there.  The song was about a real person, but he'd added stuff to make it sound good at the end.

Why am I such a cumudgeon about accurate details?

Because fictional 'historical' songs detract from those that are true. They may lead us to think that all songs are fake, and some songs carry so much incredible truth that they sound like fiction.

Take the song I've just listened to - 'The Robert Whitworth'.  It's a true story and is accurately described in the song.  It's a story that could so easily have been invented for a Hollywood movie - it's also a story that's worth reading as it helps remind us of humanity at its best.
Read more... )
watervole: (concertina)
We'll have a group of Slovakian dancers staying with us this weekend.

It's Wimborne Folk Festival 
this weekend, an absolutely wonderful weekend for dancers.  There will be dancing all over the town all weekend and concerts and ceilidhs in the evening.

It's on our doorstep and we've been going for decades.

Sadly, I'll be unable to dance this weekend as I've torn a ligament in my back.  A real shame as it would have been my first Wimborne with my new morris side, the Quayside Cloggies. 

Still, I shall enjoy it anyway - the atmosphere is always wonderful.

We've a house-full of people, so if any one else wants to join the crush, feel free!

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Judith Proctor

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