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 Post subject: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 14:15 
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I went to see a couple of morris sides perform locally last night and two women danced a Bacca Pipes jig (cf New Mistress, which I'd never actually seen before. It struck me that folk dancing, which EBD clearly adored and which features quite a lot in the books, is rarely discussed on the board (I checked the archives). Am I the only old folky on here who actually still enjoys it? Or are there a lot of closet folk dancers out there? When Miss Durrant first starts teaching the girls there is quite a lot of detail, which suggests that some of the dances are Playford in style; not easy stuff. I come from a generation where we routinely learnt country dances at primary school, and I understand it's creeping back into the curriculum in the post-multicultural era. What do people think about folk-dancing in the context of the books?


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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 14:47 
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It was very popular in the '20s as I understand it, especially amongst women. Maybe it doesn't get picked up on because people associate country dancing with EJO rather than EBD? EBD goes into quite a lot of detail about it early on, when Miss Durrant arrives at the school, but it's not mentioned so much in the later books.

I know we've definitely got some folk dancers on here :D . I love the idea of learning country dancing at school, rather than horrible gym or aerobics!

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 15:17 
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I can remember doing country dancing in primary school in the 80s, although could not dance a step now!

I know a few people locally (Cardiff) who go to Irish ceilidh [ceili?] dancing groups, although I don't know of any groups that do English folk/country dancing.

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 15:46 
Oh - I loved doing country dancing at school! It was the only 'games' I was ever any good at ...

I have the feelimng that Elinor starts out intending to put more counrty dancing in her books, but then doesn't. Might that have been because of Elsie Jeanetee Oxenham's books? I wish she had put more about the dancing into the books generally. The girls could have done competitions, perhaps? If those existed?


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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 15:49 
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julieanne1811 wrote:
I have the feelimng that Elinor starts out intending to put more counrty dancing in her books, but then doesn't. Might that have been because of Elsie Jeanetee Oxenham's books? I wish she had put more about the dancing into the books generally. The girls could have done competitions, perhaps? If those existed?


It's quite possibly that, but also likely that EBD lost her enthusiasm for country dancing, in the same way that she did with Guiding. They do still have country dancing in the series (it get a mention in Gay, Mary Lou, Ruey and Adrienne among others) but there isn't the focus on the girls learning the step patterns and dances that there is in the early books, suggesting that EBD lost interest.

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 15:53 
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Trust me, Alison, we did horrible gym and games as well. I hated every minute of it, but I loved the dancing, except for one horrible boy who had a great line in grinding the bones of your hand together - to be avoided as a partner whenever possible.

I belong to a Playford group where SLOC and I are 15+ years younger than anyone else, but still have great fun. They're a convivial lot and I would say that it's a good way of maintaining function into later life, if they're anything to go by.

I never was much of an EJO fan; maybe that's why I picked up on it more in EBD. I gather that dancing was a 'respectable' physical outlet for women in the early C20. I do confess to being tickled by the idea that for Jo in Princess one of Matron Webb's biggest crimes was thinking folk dancing is rot.

KB, I suspect you may well be right in thinking EBD lost interest. It's possible also that her interest in Guiding was connected with her interest in dance; these random quotes from the Web would suggest as much:

"The Worksop Folk Dance Group was born in the early 1930's by Dorothy Bradbury whose interest in Folk Dance was cultivated while a member of the Girl Guides movement."

"After the Second World War, folk dancing continued to be part of the school curriculum, and was also a popular activity with the Girl Guides."

So both activities withered away in tandem for EBD, as it were. I think it's a shame as these period features do give the early books more character.


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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 17:14 
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I know there was folk dancing at the Summer 2005 Gather. It would have been fun to try, if I hadn't already been limping from attempting rounders....

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 19:31 
I did Irish step dancing and set dancing when I was growing up, but I know very little about English folk dancing, so I find it difficult to visualise from what EBD says about it. Can anyone recommend some resources, or some Youtube clips that show people dancing dances EBD mentions, and doing them very well?

Also, am I right in thinking that the regular CS Saturday night dances weren't always folk dancing, but were sometimes things like waltzes and foxtrots? And are the folk dances EBD mentions the CS as doing always English folk dances - do they ever explore the dances of other nationalities represented at the CS? I know there are references to Biddy and Scottish girls doing Irish and Scottish dances for various entertainments, but are those ever danced by the school at large, or the Tyrolean dances which are also mentioned?


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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 19:42 
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I'm another one who did country dancing at primary school.


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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 21:07 
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I did country dancing at primary school in the 1950s, and have just been to the EJO weekend at Halsway Manor [Somerset] where we did loads of country and a bit of running set.

I also go to weekend schools in Eastbourne and Worthing [each once a year]

But I am very much an EJO fan, too :lol:

Where is your Playford Group, Jane? I'm not far from Southampton, but find it difficult to get to do regular dancing, and I do love Playford [we did Nonesuch at the weekend].

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 21:32 
abbeybufo wrote:
I did country dancing at primary school in the 1950s, and have just been to the EJO weekend at Halsway Manor [Somerset] where we did loads of country and a bit of running set.

I also go to weekend schools in Eastbourne and Worthing [each once a year]

But I am very much an EJO fan, too :lol:

Where is your Playford Group, Jane? I'm not far from Southampton, but find it difficult to get to do regular dancing, and I do love Playford [we did Nonesuch at the weekend].


Haivng done no country dancing since Primary school (whe I had all the fitness and energy of a young child), I have a question: is it truly as challenging physically as EJO describes it? And is it as hard as she describes? Her girls have to watch carefully and then go to the Summer School to learn, where they're very quickly disabused of their own thinking tha they are any good ... is it really that hard to do?


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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 21:36 
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julieanne1811 wrote:
Haivng done no country dancing since Primary school (whe I had all the fitness and energy of a young child), I have a question: is it truly as challenging physically as EJO describes it? And is it as hard as she describes? Her girls have to watch carefully and then go to the Summer School to learn, where they're very quickly disabused of their own thinking tha they are any good ... is it really that hard to do?


I have no idea about English country dancing, but for Scottish ceilidh dancing - yes, it is. It's definitely cardio fitness! Each dance you're moving most of the time, particularly couples dances, and often fast. And you have to remember the steps, keep in time to the music etc. I don't find it hard because I was taught in school (and when I say taught, I mean it was drummed into us) but if I'm not fit then I do find it exhausting!


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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 21:52 
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I am a morris dancer myself - that is how I met my SLOC. We are part of the same group - the men do longsword and the women do northwest clog.

I haven't done so much since I had Thomas but I enjoy it when I get the chance to do it.

I went to quite a few barndances as a child and I find quite a few steps in both styles of dancing e.g. do-si-doh, swing, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 24 Jun 2011, 22:10 
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It sounds good. I'm absolutely useless at any sort of sport/keep fit thing (I go religiously to the gym twice a week and never get any better) but I like the idea of trying clog dancing.

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 25 Jun 2011, 00:49 
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Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
Also, am I right in thinking that the regular CS Saturday night dances weren't always folk dancing, but were sometimes things like waltzes and foxtrots? And are the folk dances EBD mentions the CS as doing always English folk dances - do they ever explore the dances of other nationalities represented at the CS? I know there are references to Biddy and Scottish girls doing Irish and Scottish dances for various entertainments, but are those ever danced by the school at large, or the Tyrolean dances which are also mentioned?


There are certainly waltzes mentioned in books throughout the series, but the only mention of foxtrots is here in Jo of:

Quote:
‘Coo!’ said Jo. ‘That’ll take some learning! But I like this. It’s heaps more sensible than foxtrots and onesteps! I say, Gisela! Something more for the mag.’


As for dances of other nationalities, apart from the ones we see at the show in Kenya, I can't think of any immediately, but I'm sure there are some!

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 25 Jun 2011, 02:31 
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Think a lot of folk dancing was done up to the 80's but after that, not so much. I remember doing it but unless you're into line dancing to country music or similiar, most kids in the 21st century are interested in ballet, jazz or hip-hop.


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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 25 Jun 2011, 12:45 
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We used to do country dancing at my first school (70s to early 80s) - I really missed it when I moved to middle school! I remember one called Circassian(?) Circle which ended with turning a forward roll into the middle of the circle - though the examples on YouTube don't seem to feature this, sadly, maybe it was a version created just for schools! Can't find the music we used to do it to, either :(

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 25 Jun 2011, 16:23 
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I have bagpipe music for a hornpipe called 'The Circassian Circle,' same spelling.

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 25 Jun 2011, 16:46 
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Presumably it's Circassian dancing from the Caucasus, but I'm not sure how it would've got into British or American folk dancing ... *goes off to try Google because I'm intrigued now* (sorry, spot the Eastern European history specialist!). Is it the sort of dance you get in Russia with everyone holding hands and dancing round in one big circle?

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 Post subject: Re: folk dancing
PostPosted: 25 Jun 2011, 17:23 
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Here are some instructions for how Circassian Circle is usually danced in England.

In my corner of Northern England ceilidhs occur fairly often as fund-raising events and attract dancers of all ages from pre-school upwards. There is far less emphasis on getting steps right than in Miss Durrant's first lesson at the CS, which could well be enough to put anybody off completely. With a good caller, a suitable selection of dances, and, ideally, an ability to tell left from right anybody can take part.

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