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Jennifer Millest - RIP

GUEST,Chris Brady 29 Nov 14 - 05:07 AM
RTim 29 Nov 14 - 09:50 AM
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Subject: Jennifer Millest - RIP
From: GUEST,Chris Brady
Date: 29 Nov 14 - 05:07 AM

As a student Jennifer danced in Professor Tom Flett's display team at Liverpool University. There she learnt the traditional dances that Tom and his wife Joan collected in the Scottish Highlands and Islands in the 1950s. These dances were not the country dances of the Southern Lowlands but the true Scottish reels and even older pantomimic dances from the Islands.

Having learnt these dances to display / demonstration standard Jennifer moved to Reading. There she was a founder member of Reading Traditional Step & Dance Group which was formed in 1965. She introduced these ancient dances to the Reading Cloggies who continued to teach, perform, and demonstrate them in its pioneering series of workshops devised by Jennifer and others termed "The Campaign for Real Reels" or "Putting Stepping Back Into Folk Dancing."

Sadly Jennifer's and others' research into step dancing, clog dancing, and traditional dancing was under-rated; indeed in many cases ignored by those who should (could?) have been more aware of our rapidly disappearing folk heritage. However Jennifer's immense enthusiasm for step and clog dancing, as well for the old Scottish (and English) reels, knew no bounds.

She was involved in the making of many of the Reading Cloggies sponsored films such as of the late Dick Hewitt - Champion Norfolk Step Dancer, of the late Sammy Bell - ex-miner and clog dancer from the N.E., and of course the many films of Pat Tracey.

One of Jennifer's specialities was the "Cumberland Sword Dance" which she performed and taught at various Reading Cloggies Festivals. She was also fond of the Liverpool Hornpipe - a soft shoe dance learnt from the collecting of the Fletts.

Jennifer was also instrumental in reviving and promoting the Dartmoor Step Dance Competitions, during which she was frequently one of the judges.

And in 2001 Jennifer was the guest at the Reading Cloggies Festival with a lecture entitled: "Collection of Traditional & Step Dancing and Clog Revival over the last 50 years." It is hoped that a transcript, &/or the lecture itself can be uploaded to the web soon.

Jennifer was also deeply involved with the EFDSS and spent many voluntary hours promoting and raising funds for English folk dance via such quangos as The Sports Council.

Jennifer was a character on the step and clog dance scene. She will be sorely missed.

Chris Brady
Ex-Reading Cloggie

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Subject: RE: Jennifer Millest - RIP
From: RTim
Date: 29 Nov 14 - 09:50 AM

I remember Jennifer very well - a great dancer with The Reading Cloggies and she was a good friend of my old mentor Dave Williams and came to the Fo'csl'e in Southampton at Dave's request several times. I didn't realise she was that old, ie. I though she was my age.

Tim Radford

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