Friday, 18 December 2015

Tripping the Light Fantastic with Liskeard Lights Up 2015

Second time lucky with the weather, after the annual "Liskeard Lights Up" Lantern Parade was cancelled due to the weather.  So much hard work had gone into producing the dancing lanterns with the "Tripping the Light Fantastic" theme, and almost for nothing, as the squally wind and rain stopped the procession from going ahead.

With a swift bit of re-jiggery the Liskerrett Centre pulled together a remarkable event to give the chance for the children to show off their good works, with live music, dancing and an experience to treasure.  

Around 60 or so children gathered from Trewidland, Hillfort & St Cleer schools with their beautiful lanterns, getting ready to take part in the extraordinary procession and serpent dance.

The garden had already been decorated with the huge dancers that were to have been part of the Liskeard Lights Up procession the previous week.

We led the children down the slope to the garden amphitheatre, with Carlton Crouch playing bagpipes and Pauline McKeogh on accordion.

We danced a massive serpent, spiralling round and round, with the children "Tripping the Light Fantastic".  Parents, grandparents, guardians and local folks watching in amazement, with the amphitheatre providing an excellent viewing point, as well as the houses above the garden.

Samba Kernow greeted us with a great conga riff, before heading back up the slope for mince pies, mulled apple juice and tunes from Scoot Lyskerrys.

"I loved the bit where we went round and round in circles," said one of the youngsters as we got back to the hall.  "Can we do it again...?" said another.  "That was amazing!" said one of the parents, "we should do this more often...".  Ok, let's!

Big thanks to all the volunteers & staff at the Liskerrett Centre, to Andy Bilewycz for the pictures, and the wonderful parents, guardians and teachers for the support, and of course, all the amazing children for taking part.

Here's to the next one :D

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowydh Da!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

NEW! LOOE & LISKEARD #cornishdance workshop series!

After a long summer break, a new autumn season of #cornishdance workshops are back in the "far east"!  

Introducing a NEW fortnightly series in LOOE on Friday evenings at the Millpool Centre​ from 18th September, AND a weekly series in LISKEARD on Saturday afternoons at the  Liskerrett Community Centre​ from October 2nd. 

A chance to learn / refresh a selection of Cornish social, set and step dances: foot-stompin' fun-fit exercise with LIVE music!

Here's the flyer . . . and all the dates are in the "Cornish Dancing Diary"

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Discovery of Kober (Copper)

What a joy to work on with such wonderful children and Play-It-Again theatre this term to produce a fantastic evening of drama, comedy sketches, Cornish music & dance, telling the story of the discovery of copper, the tea treats, the riots and the strikes!

Claire & Nina from Play-It-Again worked with Hillfort Primary School Y5 on on the physical theatre, while I worked with St Martin's School Y5/6 & Y6 on the Cornish dancing over 3 sessions to give the young people the chance to perform in Liskeard Public Hall.

The play is set in 1836 at the time of the discovery of kober (copper) by James Clymo and Thomas Kittow, and began with the announcement by 'Miss Trewhella'  of the "discovery of copper on Caradon Hill...and to celebrate we shall have a dance...".  The children all joined in a simple serpent dance, led by the St Martin's School dancers . . . 

...and they really are made of light :)

Claire & Nina as the two old ladies retold the stories of the year that changed all our lives, as we "went from a small community where nothing ever happened to being the Copper Capital of South East Cornwall....during the "boom" there were at least 10,000, 'cos there are at least 5 mines".  

They used to "work six days a week, with only Sundays off, when they'd all dress in their Sunday best...and take the train to Looe..."

"Do you remember The Great Miners Riot of 1842...?"  Allegedly started by a James Beer in the Bullers Arms, asking for another drink.  The landlord refused him, and "all hell broke loose"... the musicians began to play, the children began to 'throw' whatever they could lay their hands on...some excellent slow miming going on until they all collapsed.

Mayor Bernard Anstis "all stand..." doled out the fines to the miners, ending with sixty shillings to James Beer.

As the two old ladies recounted more tales of the copper "boom", 'Miss Trewhella' of the East Cornwall Temperance Society announces the 'Old Hand-in-Hand' dance . . . 

And the children danced very well indeed, especially as Hillfort Primary School had only learnt the dance on that day)'s a little clip of them:

The story continued as the children from one mine discovered that they were not being paid as much as one of the other mines...and the story spread across the Caradon mines...

...and the children went on strike...

...and finally danced a defiant Mr Martin's Reel the length of the hall...'ll have to come see this again to find out what happened at the very end, if you can persuade your Caradon school to participate in the next Scoots Kernow-Play-It-Again-Phoenix 100 production!

Meur ras bras to...Councillor Derris Watson and all at the Caradon Heritage Partnership for the support...Claire & Nina at Play-It-Again , the staff and children at Hillfort & St Martin's CofE Primary Schools, the staff at Liskeard Public Hall, especially Dan on sound, and all the wonderful volunteers on the evening :D

Sunday, 14 June 2015

1950s : Furry Dance in Looe

It's that time of year, folks! Liskeard Carnival with the Furry Dance, Midsummer Bonfire (Tansys Golowan) with the Old Cornwall Society, Mevagissey Feast...and #cornishdance is a great way to bring folks together.

This time last year, I was in Pengelly's fishmongers in Liskeard having a natter with the lovely Angela about Cornish dancing, and in particular the "Flora Dance", the variations across Cornwall, and how it always used to be danced in Looe.
We were talking about whether it was danced in a straight line (like I know from "North Cornwall Furry"), or diagonally, with the front couple going one way, while the back couple went the other way (as you still see today for Liskeard's Furry Dance on the Wednesday evening of the Carnival).

"My Mum's got some pictures of the Flora Dance from overhead, where you can see them dancing in opposite directions," said Angela as she proceeded to dance the steps in the shop as if she were in a set of 4.

She sang-hummed the song as she danced the right hand star and then the left hand star and then back into the going forward diagonally one way and then the other part.

Here's one of those shots - looks like Hannafore Point, and you can clearly see that 'going in and out' movement as the sets move forward.

You might notice that most of the dancers are holding right hands, rather than inside hands. Linden & Jose, two dancers from Lostwithiel, had also automatically done this the first time we danced 'North Cornwall Furry' to the 'Bodmin Riding' tune: "it's because it's easier to go into the right hand star..."  And so it is!

The young, twenty-something girls used to jostle-up to the front to get in all the pictures, much as today!

St Pinnock Band with dancers at the front
One day, I had the pleasure of meeting Angela's mum, Ruth, just after getting her hair done in the town.  A lovely septuagenarian, her face lit up as she started reminiscing about how things were when she was in her twenties.

"We used to start up at the station in the early evening, dance all the way over Hannafore Point and then across the bridge to the sea front."

"It took about an hour and a half and by the time we were finished, we were all tired out."

Ruth's friend of the same age also came into the shop, and I was transported sixty years into the past...

...and if there weren't enough to make up a set of two couples, then a "set of three would just join in", as you can see in both the picture above...

...and in the centre of this picture as they turn the corner into East Looe.

I love this picture for the movement of the couples, particularly at the front, along with the onlookers walking alongside the procession.

The really young girls dance by the Rose Garden. I guess they'd be about seventy or so, now.

"There used to be 3 bands playing the tune..." and no surprise with that number of folk. Keeping them all playing at the same time was no mean feat.

A very dapperly dressed couple at the front of this picture. I wonder where everyone went after the dancing finished?

Big thanks again to Ruth for sharing these wonderful pictures and stories, and of course to Angela for sharing her stories, and for singing and dancing in the shop!

Please let us know if you happen to spot any of your folks in these pictures, and if you've got any of those old photos of Cornish dancing in your cabinets, or any stories about Cornish dancing, it'd be lovely to hear from you.

Dha weles skon - see you soon :D

** update ** September 2015 **

The marching band is St Pinnock Band, who provided the music in the 1950's and still do today.  The pictures show the same band in the St Pinnock Band uniform worn at that time, and there's one player who played in Looe Flora from 1954 onwards who's still playing today!  

Thanks to Chris Luckhurst of St Pinnock Band for the update!

You can find St Pinnock Band on the web here, on Facebook and twitter, and hear them at events and band competitions across the south east of Cornwall and beyond!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Helston Furry Dance - archive footage from 1921

Here's a few clips of Helston Furry Dance through the ages since 1921 . . .

Note the right hand holds and the closeness of the turns as the couples move through the crowds.

"... And They Sang As They Danced Along" (1933)

Furry Clock (1941)

Furry Dance Aka Furry Dancer (1955) . . . around 500 children participated in 1955 . . . 

Flora Day 2013 Spotlight Report . . . and more than 1000 children participated in 2013!  
Thanks to Dana for the tips on Helston Furry :D

Helston Furry is danced through the streets of Helston with "dignity and joy" every year on May 8th.

Here's to sunshine and "infectious gaiety" this year too :D

Friday, 27 March 2015

MayFest! MayFest!

Yep, it's that time of year again - Callington MayFest, this year on Saturday 9th May, and the freebie Cornish Dance & Music Workshops are on.  

We'll be tackling Callington Furry dance as one of a selection of Cornish social, set and maybe step dances over the 4 workshops. 

All taught from scratch for beginners & refreshers.

Big thanks to FEAST, Awards for All & CAVe for the support!

Come join us for a spot of foot-stompin' #cornishdance fun :D