watervole: (Default)
 Alex Holden was looking after bags and stuff for dancers during the procession, but it put him in an ideal position at an upstairs window to film the entire procession (there's just a couple of minutes missing where he had a camera glitch, but it's wonderful footage. Nearly every side stops and does a short dance just under the window.

See the children from the local schools, the sheer variety of colours and styles of dance.  Note the old hands, especially the Cotswold and North West dancers, who are used to processions and have processional dances that move gradually down the street, just stopping for the occasional figure when the procession slows to a halt.

Some groups, like the Welsh dancers, don't have a processional dance, and thus walk most of the procession (but may have done the odd dance or part of a dance at other points along the road).  Appalachian dancers don't do the procession, as tap shoes on tarmac really don't give the desired effect!

For me, this is a wonderful chance to see the procession that I mostly didn't actually see on the day.  I note with some amusement that the Fezheads have worked their way forward from their official position nearer the end and are now up near the start. (Look at the way they carry their carpet with them and lay it down whenever they perform)

See the Knights of King Ina (who quickly became favourites of mine).  They dress in black and white and do jigs.  A jig is a rather energetic solo (or two man) dance in the Cotswold style.  Even when they're two thirds of the way through the procession, they're still putting in a lot of energy.  I remember seeing them pass the finish line, still with energy in the leaps even after all that dancing.

See if you can spot Richard, dressed in a bright orange tatter costume passing through the audience with a collection tin. (If you think he looks like the Librarian, that's because the costume was originally made at a Discworld convention)

Right at the end, you get Whitethorn ladies morris.  I put them at the end for a good reason.  I knew I could rely on them to turn up in good numbers and dance well to give the procession a good ending rather then dribbling off into nothing.  They didn't disappoint - lovely crisp footwork, even after having spent well over an hour queueing and dancing down the road.

I'm so glad Alex took this film, I think I shall return to it when I want to remember what Wimborne 2014 was like.  This is what I spent six months hard work for, and it happened and it was good.



watervole: (Default)
 Side A and Side B cannot go in the same dance spot as they fell out earlier this year and aren't talking to one another.
Sides C, D, E, F, G need power as they dance to recorded music.  Sides H-P have string bands and need a PA system including several mikes and other bits and bobs and also need wooden boards or a stage to dance upon.  Side Q cannot dance on tarmac (wooden clogs without rubbers).  Sides R-U are children and I'd prefer to keep them out of the pubs if possible.  Side V is a Welsh dance side I met in interesting circumstances and need to have a spot with Anonymous.  Side W is a hoop dancer and needs sound, but she's bringing her own boom box.  Sides X-Y are choirs and need a space where their voices will bounce off surrounding walls to amplify it a bit - one of them also needs a power point for a backing track.  Side Z is a Ukulele band who don't use PA and needs a place where they won't be drowned out.  Sides AA - DD have people who have offered to do workshops, so cannot be programmed against the workshop.  Sides EE- ZZ have no special requirements, but one should try to have visual variety by not putting Cotswold with Cotswold, or North West with North West, etc.  Also, no side should have two consecutive dance spots.

Each side has different arrival and departure times.  Programme 3-4 dance spots per day for each side, bearing in mind that morris sides work in pairs, but Appalachian dancers (and Slovakian dancers) and choirs and street dance groups can do a full half hour spot on their own (but don't do processions).

Ensure that all 3 main dance spots are filled for as much of the day as possible, then try and provide dancers to all the pubs that have asked for performers (always more than you are actually able to supply) and provide children's dance groups for Willow Walk.

When you have done all this, proof read to find the errors that the spread sheet checker can't spot, rinse and repeat.

Remember that J needs somewhere to change costume in mid-act, that DD use a solo musician and had better not be close to the street dance group as the sound will be drowned, and last, but not least, remember that you have to add in a maypole session on Sunday afternoon on the Minster Green...

Replace torn out hair with wig!
watervole: (Default)
 Still to sleepy to write much, but this newspaper article sums it up nicely.  We aimed for a family friendly atmosphere - and we achieved it.

Some of the reasons it worked were directly due to things we did like having more activities specifically for children, and some were a serendipitous side effect of other things we did.  For instance, we spaced the stalls out more to leave easy access to any local shops that were opening, but that in turn made it easier for people to move easily around the festival.

We spread the festival out to add two new locations and I think we actually had more people overall, but at a slightly lower density which gave people more breathing space.

We were lucky in some regards.  The recently refurbished square made a lovely dance spot - we put less stalls there and made it a big open dance space and got big audiences there.  Willow Walk, a lovely grassy area by the river, has only been there a couple of years and made a wonderful area for children's stuff.  Loads of people were relaxing there, having a picnic, etc.

Some of the pubs, especially the Albion, got on board with the family friendly aim.  The Albion had free story telling sessions and face-painting and pulled in massive numbers of people over the weekend.  They also hosted one of our new Appalachian dance spots, which soon developed a good audience.

We had some lovely comments from people attending the festival.




watervole: (Default)
 The road barriers for the festival have been collected by Steve, they're all padlocked and ready to be erected tomorrow.


This afternoon I go to give the children at Pamphill school their last longsword practice before they perform on Saturdday.

Then onto the Cornmarket to finalise the position of the stage to be erected this evening.

Then to the Albion to discuss some details of the Appalachian programme.

Then Anonymous practice this evening for our performance this weekend.

Then sleep - because I'll be up late dancing on Friday and Saturday!

Alex H will be arriving Friday.  He's going to be doing everything from handing out collecting tins to erecting maypoles.  I'll be doing loads of stuff with various children's groups over the weekend.  I expect we'll both surface for air occasionally.  I have written EAT on both our schedules...
watervole: (Maypole)
Doing random folk festival stuff:

1.  Make sure maypole is not in two places at once.  The maypole workshop and the school group using the maypole cannot be at the same time, but it helps if they are close to avoid carrying the pole around too much.

2.  determine order for procession.  Each side will need to know who is ahead of them.

3.  Book a group of fairies as walkabout entertainers.  Part of their function will be to tell people where all the new features are - we've added/changed a lot of things from last year.  If people can't find them or don't know they're on, they will be wasted.

4. Cancel children doing Irish dancing who can't find a band.  (If you're a musician, preferably with a friend or two to increase the volume, used to playing for Irish dancing and want to come to Wimborne Minster Folk Festival, then I may be able to put you in touch... - and you'd get a performer's weekend ticket)

5.  An hour later (no less!) add new group of children doing Cotswold and Border morris.  By happy coincidence, the scout hall is now available for indoor camping for children as the Irish group no longer need it.   

6.  Phone back up scout hall, just in case the Irish dancers hit lucky on finding a musician.  (no one replies, try again later)

7.  Confirm Cotswold Morris workshop on the Wayford Tradition.  Will need to think of suitable place (probably website) to make the workshop notes available.
watervole: (Default)
 I've been watching a TV series following the staff at Claridges, a very expensive and old London hotel.

It brought together a number of thoughts in my mind, which cohered while I was reading an entry in Ranunculus's DW journal.

One of the things top end hotels do so well is continuity.  The napkins are always folded exactly the same way, the paint is always fresh,  the staff tend to be the same people year on year.  When people return, they are returning to a familiar place, where they are known and they feel at home and secure.

There are several things that evoke this sense of place for me.  Conventions are one, especially if they've been in the same hotel for several years.  I can walk into the Radisson Edwardian at Heathrow or  the hotel in Coventry that Redemption currently uses.  If there's a convention there, I will instantly feel at home.  The faces are familiar, the reg desk is in the right place, I know where ops will be.  It feels right and safe and known.

Christmas can have a similar effect.  Once I put the decorations up (which I don't do until very close to the day), the house is a subtly different place.

I think that's why I ended up on the Wimborne Minster Folk Festival committee.  Wimborne in festival week is a known and familiar place. I know where the Appalachian dancing will be.  I know where I will eat tea with my family on Sunday evening.  The dance teams are known to me and the dance styles.

If the festival had ended, I would never have been able to return to that much-loved place.

A 'place' can be ephemeral, but still very real.
watervole: (Morris dancing)
 I seem to have ended up on not one, but two folk festival committees.

I was in Wimborne this morning, looking at dance spots and stall locations for Wimborne Minster Folk Festival.  It's been a lot of work so far, but I'm getting a good feeling about it now.  There's some really good ideas starting to come out and I think we can do some interesting stuff that the old committee were unable to do.  I want to do a lot more stuff for children and run workshops for morris and longsword and other traditional dances.  We want to do a lunchtime family ceilidh and all sorts of stuff.

I'm also helping with Poole Quay folk festival - first meeting for that is in a week or so.
watervole: (Default)
We've a house full of recovering morris dancers!

Wimborne on Friday rained a bit.  We managed the procession which was almost dry.  For the dance spot in the Cornmarket afterwards, we managed with a combination of instruments protected by bin bags (you can play a concertina in a bin bag by making holes in the bag for your hands to go through) and helpful umbrellas.

After two dances, we retreated to the ceilidh and danced until midnight and then retired to our tents.

Saturday was bright and sunny.  We weren't dancing on Saturday...  We collected and ambled round the stalls and some of us may have hit some of the music sessions.  In the evening we went to the ceilidh and danced our socks off. 

In the night it rained.  A lot.

Both tents were starting to let water in by the morning.

Abandoning our first dance spot, we chucked dry stuff into the car and struck the tents in the rain.

Nothing daunted, we then went and found a spot to dance in the aforementioned rain.  We had a small but very appreciative audience.

Then we found where the few surviving morris teams were hanging out in a large gazebo at the back of the Bell.  We all took turns dancing there and Anonymous's version of Tinner's Rabbits went down very well (and there were some good performances from other sides. I enjoyed Bourne River's jig to 'Singing in the Rain').

I'd originally been programmed to do maypole dancing with my school group on the Minster Green at 2pm.  With the rain pouring down (and the grass slippery as well) it was highly unlikely that any children would show.  The school phoned round the children to confirm it was off, but just in case any didn't get the message, I found a free spot in the main hall and set up the maypole there (with someone at the Minster to catch anyone who showed there).  Just to ensure the maypole (and the dry, warm, indoor space...) weren't wasted, I invited every morris dancer I passed to come along and join in.

It went surprisingly well.  I ended up with about eighteen morris dancers from a number of sides all joining in the maypole dances.

There's some great things about working with dancers.  With seven year olds ,you struggle for weeks to be able to get them to do a plait -and even then some of them will get it wrong.  With morris  dancers, all you need to say say is: red ribbons face clockwise, green ribbons face anti-clockwise.  Now do a hey passing right shoulders first.  And they're off - perfect plait first time.  (All I need to remember for the future is to tell them to have the ribbon tension slightly slacker so the first few wraps don't catch on the crown).

Even morris dancers make a few mistakes though.  Maypole looks easy, but it is a very unforgiving dance.  Every mistake is 100% obvious when you come to unwind the ribbons.  You can't simply slide back into place when you go wrong (which you can do in almost any other dance without the audience even noticing most of the time).  When I was saying:  "Notice who is on either side of you and who is in front of you and don't overtake" I could see a few smiles at the 'school teacher' routine.  But sure enough, we got a couple of ribbon tangles in 'Crysanthamum' from people passing the dancer in front of them - this tends to happen when the dancer in front moves late.

It was a fun session, helped us get warm and dry out and was colourful with quite a few people watching as well as dancing.

I was told afterwards that one the dancers, an older gentleman, had been unable to do  maypole dancing at school as he'd been very ill as a boy - he'd always regretted not being able to do it - and I'd made him very happy.

It made my day!

Then we all dived back to my place (apart from Rick who had a job interview the next morning), ate stew, played simple card games and collapsed.

In 2013, I'll see it all from a different angle.  I'm on the committee for Wimborne Minster Folk Festival 2013 !
watervole: (Default)
As requested by [personal profile] lexin , here's my tips on how to collect:

1.  You have to like people.  Think of every person you are collecting from as someone who is potentially going to give money to your cause.  Think of them before you approach them as being likeable people.  It goes without saying that you should approach everyone regardless of race, age, disability, etc.  (you get a let out for drunks, but that's all)

2.  Go slowly.  This is a classic mistake.  Too many people rush round and miss everything.  Why do you need to go slowly?  See below.

3.  Make eye contact.  Pause.  Smile.  Hold out the tin.  Look hopeful.  Make sure that the label on the tin is clearly visible, so that there is no doubt as to what you are collecting for.  You should also be wearing a badge that identifies you as an official collector.  (If you're in kit with a morris team, then this qualifies)

4.  Take your time.  Chat to people, joke with them.  If they're interested, tell them about what you're collecting for and know your facts.  I often get asked what the money in the festival collecting tin is used for, and I will try and focus on the parts of the budget that are most relevant to the person asking.  eg.  If I'm collecting in the Cornmarket from people who are watching the Appalachian dancing, then I can tell them that the money helps pay for the staging and sound system in the Cornmarket.  I'll tell people a brief bit about where the dances come from, where the dancers come from, anything else they're interested in.  (I don't give people the spiel unless they ask, but quite a few do ask.)

5. Don't forget the people at the back.  The average collector goes round the front of the crowd.  The good collector makes eye contact with every individual including the people right at the back, and often goes through the crowd rather than around it.

6.  Watch the body language.  Time and again I see someone with a tin walk past as a gentleman puts his hand towards his trouser pocket, or an old lady reaches for her handbag.  These people wanted to give, but the collector never noticed.  Take your time.  Wait.  Chat to the old lady burrowing in her bag.  Don't let her feel embarrassed about being slow.  Make her feel that you appreciate her being willing to make the effort.  Be willing to hold ice creams, small children, anything that is stopping people being able to reach their money.

7.  Always say thank you, no matter how small the amount.  3p may be all that particular person had in change, it may be all that a slightly pissed drunk put in for a laugh.  Doesn't matter; they have donated, so you thank them.  You are representing the organisation you are collecting for.   A sincere 'thank you' to a small donation may also have the side effect of often triggering donations from people standing close by.

8.  Never assume that people in wheelchairs won't have money.  (I know some people feel a bit guilty about asking the disabled for cash)  I tend to regard it as insulting not to ask them. 

9.  Small children love to put money in tins.  Relax.  You're going to get lots of pennies put in very slowly.  Enjoy the moment and help them enjoy it too.

10.  If you're at a festival or anything like that, remember that you're part of the entertainment.  Dress the part.  If you look really good, people will cross the road to put money in your tin.

11.  Don't rattle the tin - unless you're doing it in time to music.  Some people get annoyed by it.

12.  If you're going round the same crowd several times, be aware of turnover.  There will be more new people coming in, but also some people staying a long time.  If you see people who have recently put money in, then nod and smile at them in recognition of the fact that they've already put something.  If you do this well, they'll put something in again on the third or forth pass as they appreciate the fact that you haven't been hassling them.  Do NOT assume there are no new people coming in.  It's perfectly acceptable to go around now and then asking casually "Any new faces?  Anyone I haven't already asked?"  Lean to judge the rate of turnover so that you don't go around too often or too rarely.  If there are a small number of people and turnover is small, chat to people and see if they're interest in the history/ whatever of what you're doing.  Regard it as an educational opportunity as well as fund-raising.

13.  Never hassle anyone.  If someone says that they've already given, then thank them and move on.  (there are exceptions to this rule, but they take skill and an ability to read people - the key exception is this, If you can make someone laugh, then they will donate multiple times)

14.  Making people laugh.  This is for the experts.  If you can clown, dance to the music, use a glove puppet, flash your frilly knickerbockers, have elastic arms that can hold tins in strange ways/directions, collect money in your skirt, use witty banter with people you've seen before, flirt gently with members of the opposite sex (or your own if you're gay and can read the signs well enough), then it will raise more money, additionally it will also help make the entire event relaxed and enjoyable for everyone.

15.  Be aware of the legality of where you're collecting.  If you want to collect on the street, the event/charity you are collecting for should have a specific licence for the time/place.  Duplicate licences aren't normally granted.  If you see people collecting for other organisations, then check with your organisation whether they have an exclusive collection licence.  Be aware that a small number of organisations may try and sneak in illegal collectors.  These people are taking money from your organisation.  Warn them, then report them to the police.  Pubs and private premises are not covered by street collection licences. You should also for permission at the bar or wherever apropriate.  Do not collect without permission.

Street collections are much harder then festival collections.  At festivals, people are watching free entertainment and are expecting collecting tins and regard them as a way of supporting something they're enjoying.  If you're collecting cold in the High Street or you're on  a picket line, then you've got your work cut out.  This is where rules 1 and 3 become most important.  You've got to  make eye contact with everyone (even if it's only for a fleeting second).  When you have eye contact, smile.  Mentally think  "Hi, you look like a nice person".

If they keep on going, let them go.  If they look back at you, then ask them if they'd like to donate.

Especially on streets, people are often in a hurry.  This means that if they ask you for more information, you need to know how much they want.  So, if for example, they ask what you're striking for, then ask if they want the long or the short  explanation.  Time is valuable to people.  If you don't waste their time when they're in a hurry, then they'll appreciate you respecting their wishes.  'Short' means an absolute max of 60 seconds and preferably no more than 45.  Never use more than three different facts.  (three is about all people will remember, and if part of your aim is to publicise your cause, then you should aim to give  them simple clear facts that they can pass onto other people).

Now, this is the really hard part.  You're out on the street on a cold, miserable day and very few people are giving.  You have to be HAPPY.  If you can't be happy, at least aim for relaxed.  People respond to body language.  If you're grumpy and angry at the world/your employer/big business/polluters/agribusiness, then you do NOT want to project that anger onto the unfortunate person approaching you.

Find something positive about what you're doing.  You have to offer hope.

You may get some money if you say 'Species are going extinct faster than at any time in history', but you'll get more if you say 'Otters are returning to rivers in every English county'.  Both are true, but people respond better to good news.  They like to think that their money will achieve something, not vanish into a bottomless pit.

So, if you're on a picket line, focus on something positive that the money donated will do - or what it has already done.


To summarise:

Be happy, polite and welcoming to everyone

Do not miss anyone out

Be prepared to give time to every individual and not rush onto the next person





watervole: (Morris dancing)
Some of my flist live in Sheffield.

Read this.  Or else.

This weekend was Wimborne Folk Festival.  As always, Richard, Henry and I were collecting.  (If anyone wants to know how to collect effectively, I'm willing to go into detail.  Many a time, one of us has been round a crowd immediately after someone else has already been there, and collected lots of money that the first person simply missed.  People are generous and willing to donate, but you have to take your time and catch the signs.  If you just wander vaguely past with a collecting tin, you'll miss 90% of what's there.)

There were many good sides dancing at the festival, as always, but the real stand out was Boggart's Breakfast.

They're a Border Morris side from Sheffield.  They're all young dancers, they've a lot of students and former students among them.  They fielded around 16 dancers at Wimborne - that's a 7 hour journey from Sheffield.  They've even more dancers back home.

If anyone ever tells you that morris is dated, boring, irrelevant or dull, take them to see Boggart's Breakfast dance.

Their style is fast, fluid, exciting and superbly well choreographed.  These guys PRACTICE and it shows.  They can start in two parallel  lines, whirl on the spot to become diagonal lines, toss stick to a partner six feet away, spin, toss stick to the guy on the right, spin, toss to the guy on the left, hit the stick to the ground, and be off into the next figure (they call this the 'nearly impossible dance' for a good reason).



(You really need sunshine to give the full effect, but this was the best photo I could find on their web site.  Just add mental light for the spangles and then add movement and a sense of fluid speed and motion.)

Not only do they dance superbly, but they've thought about the totality of their act.  The costumes are the traditional Border morris  tatter jacket, but they've gone for black tatters with silver and light blue spangles.  When they spin, the tatters whirl out like the wings of a mad crow and the spangles flash in the light.  They've gone for longer tatters than normal so the whirl effect is greater, and the longest ones are at the bottom, giving an effect reminiscent of a frock coat with tails.

They wear top hats, and all decorations on the hat are in keeping with the black/silver/pale blue theme (even to the point of some dancers with blue fairy lights when they were dancing indoors in the evening.  The bells on the pads on the legs are silver and blue.  They paint their faces blue, but not just plain blue, the colours are shaded and they add decorative detail.  (blacked up faces are a Border Morris tradition)

The band, of course, are totally part of the performance.  They're in full kit (as most morris bands are), some of them double up as dancers, but they also have a highly distinctive drumming style which gives visual emphasis and punctuates the dance moves.



If there was ever such a thing as 'total morris' then this is it.

If you live in or near Sheffield, then find out when/where they're dancing and go to watch.  Or I'll shoot you...

(although there are videos on their web site, I've deliberately not linked to them as they don't even begin to give you a sense of what it's like to watch the group live and close up)



watervole: (Morris dancing)
Every year, the family hold our annual competition to see which of us can collect the most for Wimborne Folk Festival.  The origins of this custom lie deep in the mists of time, probably dating back to when I had a bad knee and was unable to dance for a while and discovered I was actually rather good at collecting.

The competition was in particular earnest this year, as the festival had lost one of its usual sources of income and its grant from the council was reduced as well.

The totals are now back.  We collected over £2000 between us, but I was over a hundred pounds ahead of Richard and Henry.  (I'm not quite sure how I managed this, as I know Richard filled more tins than I did (and often fills them fuller as he can handle more weight).  I think it must relate to the fact that I went around the music sessions as well as the dance spots and thus visited places where the tin had gone round less often and thus got a higher donation per person.  That's my best guess.  Still puzzling though - I'm sure Richard sold more programmes than me - and they're £2 each in the tin.)

We were all shattered afterwards, but we had a good time.  We all like the atmosphere at Wimborne and at least we get to the two evening ceilidhs.  (We rarely get to any of the day time events as we never really stop collecting/selling programmes)

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Judith Proctor

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