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Author Topic: Couple dancing in England  (Read 2360 times)

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Mike Hirst

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Re: Couple dancing in England
« Reply #40 on: June 04, 2019, 08:13:40 PM »

It is perhaps worth stating that even in areas where traditional dancing remained untainted the EFDS impact was acknowledged. In both East Anglia and Yorkshire I have heard older dancers describing their own experience of social dance as being distinct from folk dancing taught in  school. Indeed, though the figures and steps may have been similar they were never accepted to be the same.

That is not to suggest that dancing was not taught. A pertinent reference here would be the publication "Traditional Step-Dancing In Lakeland" - J.F. & J.M. Flett, in which the latter days of itinerant dance teaching are documented. If this is not in print now, it certainly should be.

For further references to (Northern) terpsichorean pedagogy , this article I wrote nearly 20 years ago may be useful.

http://www.folknortheast.com/learn/social-dance/the-dancing-master1
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Alan Pittwood

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Re: Couple dancing in England
« Reply #41 on: June 04, 2019, 09:05:37 PM »

Hugh Taylor wants us to deal with Dave Shepherd's comments on a video clip from RTÉ (1989) dealing with music and dancing in Donegal. 

I'm a melodeon-player, and have been since 1967, and occasionally a dancer.  I was involved in step dance and social dance research and performance and the Campaign for Real Reels in the 1970s and 1980s [Reading Clog and Traditional Step Dance Group aka Reading Cloggies].

(What Somerstep are shown dancing  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2qc1-UZ-D0  the Cloggies were doing fifty years ago: that's nearly two generations.)  [Today the Cloggies are known as Aldbrickham Clog & Step Dancers http://aldbrickhamclog.org/]

I'll venture the following. 

This is of great interest to anybody who is into European couple dancing.
Probably not of great interest: perhaps some interest at best.   The five examples are a mazurka, a Highland, Shoe the donkey (aka waltz Vienna), Maggie Pickens [a solo step dance] and the four-couple Donegal Set [acknowledged as a revival].  They all need a measure of teaching and learning to acquire the steps-vocabulary required. 

Dances like this existed in England as well
Has some truth in it: the waltz Vienna has wide distribution.   Maggie Pickens is interesting as it is based on the pas de basque which is fundamental to step dancing in England. 

(but effectively stamped out by the EFDSS concentrating on 17th century dances from the Playford Dancing Master,
Rather overstating the case, in fact, wildly inaccurate.  Two strands here.  Firstly, the Society did not 'stamp out' anything: although one may find instances in which there was, arguably, ignorance and indifference toward dances, dancers and some musical instruments.  Secondly, there were dancers and musicians who were completely removed from the influence of the Society.   Just at the moment of his untimely death in 1997, Dave Williams [Southampton] had published an analysis of the repertory of Stan Seaman [Buckler's Hard, on the Beaulieu river] in the periods 1925-1939 and 1946-1960s, http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/seaman.htm showing just what the "folk" were really dancing.
And as others have commented, the Old Time Dance movement has maintained performance of the couple dances.
 
and the sudden popularity of both American Square dancing and Scottish country dancing in the 1950s).
In all my research with the late Jennifer Millest in Devon and Norfolk, into both social dance and step dance, I cannot recall anyone mentioning Square dancing or Scottish dancing as factors in the decline/demise of these dance forms.

We have a lot more in common with both our Irish and European neighbours than most English folk dancers are prepared to admit!
Again, a bit wild, but there is some truth.   Previous posts have shown that the waltz, polka, schottische, mazurka and varsoviana were snatched from folk origins in central Europe and sent around the world.   

« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 10:06:18 PM by Alan Pittwood »
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Mike Hirst

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Re: Couple dancing in England
« Reply #42 on: June 04, 2019, 09:29:34 PM »

Alan,

It feels to me that there is something interesting here. We have  expressed pertinent elements of the same argument. I think it is important that we continue this discussion.

To play devils advocate, I would postulate the relation of solo dance and presentation dance to social dance.
vis-a -vi  "line dancing"/"March of the Mods"
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Alan Pittwood

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Re: Couple dancing in England
« Reply #43 on: June 04, 2019, 09:59:23 PM »

Mike,

If you look at Dave Williams' analysis of Stan Seaman's repertory http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/seaman.htm you will find March of the Mods in the 1946-1960s period.   Proof positive that the "folk" have always been alert to new opportunities.

Jennifer Millest, who with Ian Dunmur, founded the Reading Cloggies in 1965, was a pupil of Tom Flett and a member of his dance demonstration team when she was a student at Liverpool University.  Jennifer was deeply influenced by Tom's research methods and collecting and built her own exacting standards from them.  Jennifer's papers are with Chris Metherell at the Instep Archive.

Joan and Tom's book Traditional Step-Dancing In Lakeland influenced Ailsa and Ian Dunmur in their collecting in south Lakeland. Joan and Tom's papers are in the Instep Archive.  Ian's seventeen-step Lakeland set remains one of the most impressive solo step dances I have ever seen.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2019, 10:10:30 PM by Alan Pittwood »
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Mike Hirst

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Re: Couple dancing in England
« Reply #44 on: June 05, 2019, 02:52:25 AM »

I had not read the Stan Seaman article. Thanks for that reference.

I'm particularly taken with the idea of playing the Run Away train for the Gay Gordons and Camptown Races for the Twist.
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george garside

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Re: Couple dancing in England
« Reply #45 on: June 05, 2019, 12:16:03 PM »


2. Anyone been to a ceilidh where couple dances were included?

Yes, regularly in the northeast of England.  St Bernadrs Waltz, Skye Waltz, Gay Gordons, Ideal Scottische, Military two Step, Canadian Barn Dance and a few others including the ones mentioned by Mike in the previous post.  It's normal to include 2 or three of these.

For example there's one tonight where I expect some of these will be included.


When playing for ceilidhs I include many of what Theo says  and where possible play tunes with words i.e. songs that dancers and those sitting out can join in with.

on one occasion when the caller didn't turn up  and nobiody else could call ( I can't talk and play at the same time)  I finished up playing 'single' dances  as somebody shouted 'cant you play something we can jive to!  never having done this before I started off with a travesty of Lonne donegans putting on the style  then went into ken john peel  and many other tunes adapted on the hoof to a 'jve' rhythm  nd kept in time by playing to the swinging arses rather than feet pf the dancers. 

This plus a smattering of 'couple' waltzes  and the hokey cokey got me through the evening  and  there was hardly anybody 'sitting out''

george
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