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Sedlescombe Ribbon Dance

GUEST,Gadaffi 27 Jan 10 - 04:21 AM
Valmai Goodyear 27 Jan 10 - 12:51 PM
Paul Davenport 27 Jan 10 - 01:59 PM
Valmai Goodyear 28 Jan 10 - 04:25 AM
GUEST,Gadaffi 29 Jan 10 - 04:13 AM
Tradsinger 31 Jan 10 - 06:55 PM
ChrisJBrady 01 Feb 10 - 05:24 PM
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Subject: Sedlescombe Ribbon Dance
From: GUEST,Gadaffi
Date: 27 Jan 10 - 04:21 AM

I'm trying to trace the origins of a reference I saw to a ribbon dance from Sedlescombe in East Sussex performed on Bonfire Night in the 1920s. I saw it at a conference at Cecil Sharp House (probably in 2005) but made nothing more of a mental note of it.
With that in mind, a second reference for it was found in a 30 year old library book on local history and wondered whether this was the source for the CSH reference.
I've tried Keith Leech, the Morris Ring and the Morris Federation. I've a gut feeling that Roy Dommett might have something, but there's nothing in his notes.
Can anyone out there help?

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Subject: RE: Sedlescombe Ribbon Dance
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 27 Jan 10 - 12:51 PM

Was it performed in Seddlescombe itself or another Sussex village? Was it actually on November 5th., or at an outmeeting during the Bonfire season?

Valmai (Lewes, Cliffe Bonfire Society member)

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Subject: RE: Sedlescombe Ribbon Dance
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 27 Jan 10 - 01:59 PM

I published a photo and an article on this in EDS back when I was editor. It wasn't Seddlescombe though. Here's an extract from something I'm currently working on called 'Antick Footprints'. This is a book which looks at extinct dance traditions which my, or may not have been morris type dances.

One of the great highlights of the calendar in Sussex is the Bonfire Night celebrations which actually take place over several nights in the period. The bonfires were also an occasion for dancing and, it seems, a dance evolved which, on prima facie evidence has no paralles. The Ribbon dance of Sussex has been recorded in the villages of Ninfield, Catsfield, and Hooe. In the case of Catsfield it was still being performed in the 1920's and was actually filmed in 1926 although so far the film has not been unearthed. The dance is performed at Catsfield in a longways duple set with partners holding a ribbon between them. The performance consists of a passing over and under in groups of four with ends dropping out on occasion.
Keith Leech of Hooe kindly supplied the following detail:

Longways Duple set

Holding the ribbon with your partner in the right hand throughout the dance.

A        Right Hand Star
        Left Hand Star

B        1st. c. arch over 2nd. C.
        Then backwards under 2nd. C.
        Then arch over 2nd. C. again

        Couples at the ends miss a turn
        The dance starts again in new groups of four.

There are, of course, clear indications that this is a country dance figure. However, it can be seen that in several longsword and morris dances from other areas that there are parallels which need to be considered. It is striking to note here that the description of the Morris Dance from Sheffield has resonances with what Leech describes in Sussex. (eds v.64. No. 4. 2002)

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Subject: RE: Sedlescombe Ribbon Dance
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 28 Jan 10 - 04:25 AM

Thanks, that's fascinating. If Cliffe get hold of it we'll do it with Chinese crackers instead of ribbons ... Cliffe Bonfire Society final procession 2009


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Subject: RE: Sedlescombe Ribbon Dance
From: GUEST,Gadaffi
Date: 29 Jan 10 - 04:13 AM

Thanks for this. Keith Leech did prompt me, and I found his article in a 2002 issue of ED&S - but to the west of Battle, whereas Sedlescombe is as far east. To me, it raises the question whether there was an organised workshop of school teachers who taught the dance in the area (e.g. Esperance Guild or Guild of Play) - or whether the dance is truly indigenous to the locality. The timing of the 1920s on Bonfire Night in each case, and the locality makes me suspect otherwise.

The Morris Ring and Federation have also been in touch. Roys Dommett and Judge seem plausible but, for the life of me, I can't recall exactly where or when I saw the article on which I started the investigation, so I can trace its author.

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Subject: RE: Sedlescombe Ribbon Dance
From: Tradsinger
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 06:55 PM

The description of the dance closely matches what was collected in Gloucestershire as "The Butterfly", which has the same dip-and-dive with ribbons figure, Sharp collected a version (unpublished} in the village of Guiting Power, Gloucestershire, and a similar version was noted in Chedworth, Glos. Perhaps at one time it was common in lots of places, but just happened to be collected in Sussex and Gloucestershire. So it sounds to me like a genuine traditional dance, probably done as a display dance but different from Morris.


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Subject: RE: Sedlescombe Ribbon Dance
From: ChrisJBrady
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 05:24 PM

Probably the entire social dance repertoire of the ex-Reading Cloggies could have been termed 'extinct' since they performed dances long since gone from the areas from whence they were collected. These included: Brixham Reel, Wiltshire 6 Hand Reel, Dorset Four Hand Reel, Hampshire 5-Hand Reel with joker, Westmorland Square 8, Barkisland Dance, Morpeth Rant, Down Back O't Shoddy, Jacks the Lad, etc., etc. Then there were many traditional Scottish dances such as Ninepins, Cath nan Coileach, Shetland 6 Penny Reel, Petronella with treepling, Orkney Axum, Hullachan Reel / Roundabout, etc., etc. There was supposed to have been a CDM 8 of these dances - but it never eventuated. Chris B.

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