Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Man Engine Day - Liskeard

One mighty day for Liskeard, as the tallest puppet ever built in the UK - The Man Engine - came to Liskeard, Cornwall, the first town in Cornwall in the 2 week tour.  

Liskeard's Michael Loam was the original inventor of the #ManEngine.

We were anticipating around 3-5,000 people . . . 13,000 turned up on the day to be part of the #ManEngine ceremony.

I joined the first planning session with #ManEngine central, as the safety routes were being planned, and to support the Town Council, local traders and heritage organisations in creating an engaging pre-ceremony programme of events.  It was the end of May.  Man Engine day was two months away . . .

Catching and scribbling ideas, and setting a date for a 'Discovery Evening', bringing local traders and businesses together.

Concept on paper for the #ManEngine #LiskeardExperience.

Fullly programmed schedule, with around 90 artists, after playing the funders/sponsors v artist game for a few weeks.

Sizing up the space . . . 

Trying to imagine something that's never been seen in Liskeard. Or anywhere, for that matter.

Finding places for people to eat . . . especially those with special dietary need #glutenfree (I was so grateful for one of those on #ManEngine day!).

Before all the people . . . .

Stewards briefing . . . 

The #ManEngine arrives - the amazing Liskeard Town Band playing . . . think it was 'Fer Lyskerrys' . . . 

Liskeard Town Mayor, dressed as a balmaiden - with her mayoral chains - welcomes and gives thanks.

Fore Street from Beddoes fruit & veg market end

Fore Street from Barnecutt's end.



Here he is now - one high street packed with people and an almighty #ManEngine.

Dha weles skon - see you soon, #ManEngine.

Liskeard are already thinking about future heritage events, or even an annual #ManEngine day.  Ober da! Good work!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Bodmin Heritage Day - The Children's Dance 2016

What an absolute joy to support the Bodmin Heritage Day - The Children's Dance 2016 with such an amazing bunch of children, a fabulous team of volunteers & musicians, and with the support of Bodmin Town Council and Bodmin Lions, a very generous donator, 720 PRINT and all the parents!

This was an extraordinarily special project for Bodmin Town, with a call out for help to revive The Children's Dance, when 1,000 or so children used to learn the dance at school, with schools entering with their banners, and receiving trophies.

Alas the school commitment in this first year was missing . . . maybe all that target reporting work means there isn't time to spend on such frivolous activities as helping children learn how to work together, how to dance, and how important heritage is to them.  Fortunately, a good number of young people persuaded their parents to let them join in, so big up the parents!

Rehearsals began in January at the Sheer Dance Academy with the brilliant support of Sam & Sally Deakin & Carly Butler-Hoare, and as the weather warmed up, we took the rehearsals outside to Mount Folly, having had the necessary things in place from Bodmin Town Council.

Each rehearsal included The Children's Dance, and a selection of dances from the Cornish dance repertoire, like "Mr Martin's Reel", "Old Hand-in-Hand" and a Serpent dance.  Thanks to our trusty musicians for playing so brilliantly each time.  Plenty of laughter from both children and adults alike!

Bodmin Town Band warms up . . .

Billy hopes for a Newlyn Reel . . . 

 Thomas, the extra special drummer leads the dancers . . . 

The dancing crew - well done all of you :D

. . . and finally, Justine & Shaun hand out drinks from Bodmin Lions and "thank you" gifts for all the childeren, kindly donated by 720 PRINT in Bodmin (<<check them out for all your promotional needs folks!).

Extra special thanks to the inspirational, work-horse, Justine Stephens for the energy and drive to realise the vision, having been one of the children in the Children's Dance before it stopped a few years ago.  Bring yer whistle to Bodmin Folk Club lovely ;) 

It would be wonderful to see this come to life again for next year . . . maybe even with a few more of the primary school aged children in Bodmin . . . there's over 2,000 out there ;)

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Bodmin Heritage Day - The Children's Dance 2016

A cracking launch to Bodmin Heritage Day - The Children's Dance at Sheer Dance, home of the Sam Deakin Dance Academy hidden up on the Walker Lines Industrial Estate in Bodmin this morning!

Justine Stephens, one of the driving forces behind the revival of The Children's Dance, introduced me to the Bodmin variation of "North Cornwall Furry" as we demonstrated the dance for the wonderful dancers. Subtly different to all the other variations of this dance I've ever come across, with just four steps forward (rather than the usual 8), right hand star, left hand star, followed by four steps forward, right hand star, left hand star.  A perfect 'fit' to the music!

Freelance photographer, Peter Hodges takes the official pictures of the dancers - do check out Peter's excellent photography and courses here.  

Note the temporary gold & blue sashes, stitched together by Thea Palmer up at the upholsterers near the library in Bodmin (thanks, Thea!).

Stepping out like gazelles . . . "one, two, three, hop".  Top tip to conserve energy and give the littler ones a chance of keeping up: keep the steps quite low.

Four 1-2-3-hop steps forward . . . 

Right hand star for two 1-2-3-hop steps . . . 

Left hand star for two 1-2-3-hop steps.  Repeat the sequence for the 2nd part of the tune - four 1-2-3-hop steps forward, right hand star for two 1-2-3-hop steps, left hand star for two 1-2-3-hop steps.  Continue until you reach your destination (the opposite end of town!).

Musician Carlton Crouch plays the tune, while Justine sings the words . . . 

Justine and one of the wonderful parents recollect The Children's Dance from the time their own children took part in Bodmin Heritage Day . . . "...all the parents used to help out with the costumes...bonnets, shawls & skirts for the girls..."..." was Pauline who used to come into each school from Bodmin Heritage to teach the parents the dance, so they could teach their children..."

Keep your eyes on the Bodmin Heritage Day - The Children's Dance page for future rehearsals, updates and fund-raising initiatives.

Here's to persuading as many parents and guardians as possible in the Bodmin area to let their wonderful children experience the thrill of participating in Bodmin Heritage Day - The Children's Dance on Saturday 2nd July 2016! 

Huge thanks to Sam & Sally Deakin for generously providing the rehearsal space and persuading his students to participate, to Carlton for the music, the amazing young people,  and the effervescent energy of the volunteers.

Feel free to share any old pictures of the dance you might have, and your own stories either here, or on the Bodmin Heritage Day - The Children's Dance page - it'd be fantastic to hear from you.

Meur ras! Thanks! :D