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Stepdancing - how much is Irish?

Bobelix 18 Nov 17 - 12:22 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Nov 17 - 02:39 PM
meself 18 Nov 17 - 03:08 PM
meself 18 Nov 17 - 03:09 PM
meself 18 Nov 17 - 03:11 PM
meself 18 Nov 17 - 03:21 PM
Marje 18 Nov 17 - 04:01 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Nov 17 - 02:55 AM
Will Fly 19 Nov 17 - 04:07 AM
Mr Red 19 Nov 17 - 04:28 AM
GUEST 19 Nov 17 - 04:49 AM
GUEST 19 Nov 17 - 02:44 PM
Tradsinger 19 Nov 17 - 03:03 PM
meself 19 Nov 17 - 03:07 PM
GUEST 19 Nov 17 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 19 Nov 17 - 03:36 PM
meself 19 Nov 17 - 08:16 PM
Bobelix 19 Nov 17 - 08:30 PM
Bobelix 19 Nov 17 - 08:47 PM
BobL 20 Nov 17 - 03:29 AM
Mr Red 20 Nov 17 - 04:05 AM
Dave the Gnome 20 Nov 17 - 04:12 AM
Will Fly 20 Nov 17 - 04:32 AM
Mr Red 20 Nov 17 - 05:26 AM
meself 20 Nov 17 - 11:20 AM
meself 20 Nov 17 - 11:38 AM
GUEST 20 Nov 17 - 12:15 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Nov 17 - 01:31 PM
meself 20 Nov 17 - 03:44 PM
GUEST 20 Nov 17 - 04:00 PM
meself 20 Nov 17 - 04:50 PM
Tattie Bogle 20 Nov 17 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,Marcia Palmater 20 Nov 17 - 09:20 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Nov 17 - 03:11 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 21 Nov 17 - 03:49 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Nov 17 - 06:17 AM
Manitas_at_home 21 Nov 17 - 07:42 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 21 Nov 17 - 08:11 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Nov 17 - 08:12 AM
Jack Campin 21 Nov 17 - 08:23 AM
meself 21 Nov 17 - 11:20 AM
Mr Red 21 Nov 17 - 03:12 PM
Jack Campin 22 Nov 17 - 06:04 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Nov 17 - 07:03 AM
Marje 22 Nov 17 - 11:35 AM
Mo the caller 25 Nov 17 - 09:49 AM
Will Fly 25 Nov 17 - 10:00 AM
GUEST,CJB 25 Nov 17 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,CJB 25 Nov 17 - 11:58 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Nov 17 - 12:43 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Nov 17 - 12:45 PM
Will Fly 25 Nov 17 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Jim Martin 26 Nov 17 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,Desi C 26 Nov 17 - 09:51 AM
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Subject: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Bobelix
Date: 18 Nov 17 - 12:22 PM

OK, there's the Riverdance type stuff and there's sean-nos, and sure, they're Irish. However, I'm seeing videos on YouTube of Appalachian, Cape Breton, and Acadian step-dancing, and there's always the same person making the comment that it's all been pinched from the Irish.

Did Irish dance-masters flock in huge numbers to French, Scots, and Ulster-Scots colonial territory just to make sure they were all dancing from the same page?

Does anyone know the truth?

My feeling is that there's a common folk root going back a L O N G time - given English clog-dancing and Welsh step-dancing, and it's just that the Irish have a great publicity agent that the rest of us should hire. ;)


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Nov 17 - 02:39 PM

Display dancing in this county (Clare) is referred to as 'battering' - basically virtuoso solo dancing by men
Only a few exponents now - this is one of our LOCALS
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 18 Nov 17 - 03:08 PM

Thanks, Jim! That's the kind of dancing I could watch for hours. It reminds me of the way some of the old-timers would stepdance in Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmTIVbL8dGw&index=39&list=PL2B140A87D3310B23

I suspect that Bobelix is right - that this sort of thing was widespread in the not terribly distant past. It would probably be next to impossible to find one place of origin for it ........


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 18 Nov 17 - 03:09 PM

Sorry - here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmTIVbL8dGw&index=39&list=PL2B140A87D3310B23


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 18 Nov 17 - 03:11 PM

Okay, I'll try this one last time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmTIVbL8dGw&index=39&list=PL2B140A87D3310B23


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 18 Nov 17 - 03:21 PM

Here's another (Willie Fraser): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ_2OTQphmo&index=240&list=PL2B140A87D3310B23


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Marje
Date: 18 Nov 17 - 04:01 PM

It's an English tradition too, e.g. in East Anglia, and also in Devon, where it's done on a small wooden board:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xhBfPJqnsbk

Sorry, cant make a blue clicky on my tablet.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 02:55 AM

Delighted to see other examples here
One thing that always amuses (and confusees) me is to compare these performances with the high kickers presented by Riverdance and Comhaltas as 'traditional dancing' as 'traditional' with the sean n?s dancing styles.
I remember an elderly fiddle player/dancer telling a young learner "The secret is to keep your feet as near to the ground as possible" all the time you're stepping - I can do to a club in Dublin if I wanted to see legs".
I'm not a dancer, but we spent a long time interviewing musicians talking about the dances (in the old days all held in the farmhouse kitchens).
Around here there is a fascinatin tradition called 'battering pots' where, when a flagstone floor was being laid, a vessel such as an iron por was carfully placed under the floor so that the dancers would have a hollow spot to dance on and make a ringing sound as they did.
We were told that an earlier practice was to use an animal's skull for the same purpose.
I found out later that the practice once extended to Wales; social historian E Estyn Evans reports of the finding of seven horses skulls found under the floor of one Welsh house being demolished - fascinating stuff!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 04:07 AM

Clog dancing was common in Lancashire mill towns when people wore clogs as work footwear. I remember their clattering on hard pavements when I was a kid. I also witnessed a clog fight, when two men's legs were tied to each other with a length of string and the ankle kicking commenced! The loser was the one who gave way first.

One of Britains's champion clog dancers was an ex music hall/variety dancer called Sam Sherry, a lovely man - dancer and musician - and occasional performer at my local folk club in Lancaster in the 1960s. He was one of the Five Sherry Brothers, who did amazingly acrobatic dancing while playing various instruments. And a very funny singer of humorous songs.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Mr Red
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 04:28 AM

Gypsies did step dancing - in winter months it was a means of getting warm, and communal entertainment. The Irish connection is there.

And clog dancing was popular wherever people wore clogs. The traditions that survived are the evidence. Who knows what traditions didn't? WW1 put paid to some, as evidenced in the Film "The Way of the Morris" and Adderbury Morris.

As was said - their tradition was not high on their agenda - those that returned needed to get back to normal life and presumably the gap was filled with new fashions in many places. eg movies, the charleston, etc etc.

As I usually point out - you just dun gotta have been there, to understand.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 04:49 AM

AS far as the public are concerned all "folk" is Irish.

Percussive dance has developed independently in different places and cannot be ascribed to a single nationality.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 02:44 PM

Cape Breton Island due to isolation preserved the old music and dance of the Scottish Highlands that was brought to its shores by settlers mostly driven from their homes by the Clearances. Irish also settled here with a similar culture and these two Gaelic groups were preceded by French Acadians who were also great fiddlers and stepdancers. The native Mi'kmaw also adopted this music and dance and became proficient performers. The Scotch Gaelic dancing all but disappeared in Scotland and was replced by other forms. The old Scotch style is similar to the Irish Seann Nos because they were one and the same people a thousand years ago. In spirit we are all Gaels still!


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 03:03 PM

Apart from Devon, there are pockets of step dancing in East Anglia, Sussex and Hampshire to my knowledge.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 03:07 PM

The notion of the historical 'isolation' of Cape Bretoners is often exaggerated. There was a lot of coming and going all over the world all through the 19th Century. The oceans were the super-highways, and coastal communities tended to have much more direct contact with the major metropolises then than now. One of my own great-grandmothers, born ca 1860, came from a tiny, 'isolated' Gaelic fishing village in Cape Breton: she went to Halifax as a young woman, married an English soldier there, moved with him to England, then to Ireland, then to Scotland, and eventually brought husband and children back to that isolated fishing village. Her daughter-in-law - my grandmother - from a nearby isolated, Gaelic fishing village -
spent many years going back and forth between that village and Boston, making a living .... Etc. Digression over.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 03:26 PM

Trying to find the origin of step dancing is just daft. If there is good music going and a person with empathy to that, who has two legs and a bit of rhythm, surely in ancient history in any culture, solo dancing is just a natural reaction.
Whether in EAST anglia, the Appalachians, Kerry lancashire or PYONGYANG FOR THAT MATTER, such dancing is international and not to be defined by geography?


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 03:36 PM

Some years ago I saw Kieran Jordan and Kevin Doyle touch on the meeting of Irish step dancing and tap dance. Here is a video. For more dancing by Kieran see her youtube channel. for a great variety of dancing.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 08:16 PM

Our last GUEST has gone to the other extreme. I don't claim to be any kind of an authority, but I have never seen anything like step-dancing from beyond western Europe and North America. However, I am willing to be enlightened ... ?


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Bobelix
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 08:30 PM

I just LOVE Jim Carroll's story about the pot under the floor - that's going in my programme!
Re all the different cultures doing step-dancing: I see a lot of similar movements - which is probably why some put it all down to copying sean-nos - but, on reflection, our legs are all built the same way, so, wherever the dancing comes from, I suppose it's going to end up looking similar.

However, I'm not going to say this is the result of exhaustive research, but, looking at maybe a dozen and a half videos on YouTube, I've noticed that the step involving lifting one leg and crossing it over the other seems to be unique to Scots (Cape Breton, Scots-Irish, Appalachian), Irish, and French Canadian dance. Welsh and English clog dance uses pretty much the same steps but not that one.

On the other hand, Welsh and English seem to have a step involving throwing one leg out to the side that doesn't seem to be a common feature of the other styles - it was more like something from modern tap.

Has anyone with more dance savvy than me noticed any such differences among the North American schools of step-dance?


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Bobelix
Date: 19 Nov 17 - 08:47 PM

Also, just discovered Ottawa Valley step-dancing - no arguments about its origins: it's acknowledged as a hybrid of immigrant styles. I love the fact that its the band who often do it! Here's a great fiddler, April Verch, who, in the middle of the piece, does a great routine. I think its my favourite style so far - beats the Riverdance stuff, much more spontaneous and free but demanding a similar skill level.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kp4l3Z5HkGA


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: BobL
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 03:29 AM

lifting one leg and crossing it over
As in the NW Morris polka step?


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 04:05 AM

As Robin Dunbar (he of Dunbar's Number) said on a recent BBC Radio4 Prog (this week can anyone suggest what it was called?)

One sure thing that creates a bond is when people: sing, dance and eat together. By that he meant sitting at the dining table, communal singing like Folk Clubs, and dancing together like they do at Ceilidhs. And he used the word Ceilidh to demonstrate what he was talking about.

Step dancing as a family/village entertainment where most people would have a go at it, fits this scenario.

Look around you and see how much community is going on. Who knows their neighbour that well? As is delineated by the Mudcat - our tribe (numbers dictated by the Dunbar Number) is defined by our interest these days, not our locality necessarily. My point in digression is that traditions like step dancing might have flourished independently and then died-out in some places and not others as culture evolved to what we have today.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 04:12 AM

It's probably about as Irish as 'Dirty Old Town' :-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 04:32 AM

Here's a clip of the late, great Sam Sherry singing "She's a lassie from Lancashire", in waltz time, and clogging to it during the song. The steps are now known as Sam Sherry's Waltz, and clog teams dance to them to this day.

Sam Sherry clogging

And here's a clip or two of the 5 Sherry Brothers doing their variety act, courtesy of British Path? Films - Sam's the one with the darker, wavy hair.

Sherry Brothers


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 05:26 AM

Robin Dunbar talking about the evolution of singing & dancing - the theory goes that singing and dancing evolved before speech. And synchronised dancing releases endorphins to a greater degree than one person dancing.
My contention: step dancing must be universal wherever people wore shoes, and particularly clogs.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 11:20 AM

I suppose perhaps it depends on what you mean by step-dancing, universal, and shoes - but, as I say, I'm not familiar with anything quite like step-dancing from outside western Europe and N. Am.

******

It seems to me that when Ottawa Valley step-dancing developed, there was no one saying You can't do this, you can't do that. More like: Look at this! Look at that! They have contests now, so they must have some kind of rules ....


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 11:38 AM

I posted this link once before, years back, but it's still my favourite of Ottawa Valley step-dancing (April Verch makes an appearance): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dcc3mTlzmio


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 12:15 PM

meself, you're saying 'when Ottawa Valley step-dancing developed'- what did it develop FROM?
Sounds like a positive attitude there anyway, unlike the negativity still prevalent in Ireland, although that is slowly improving...


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 01:31 PM

"unlike the negativity still prevalent in Ireland,"
?????
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 03:44 PM

I'm no authority on the Ottawa Valley - but I'm willing to run off my mouth till one comes along .... There were French-Canadians and, no doubt, Aboriginal people living in the general area from early on; there were two main waves of Irish immigration: one, late 18th/early 19th Century; two, Famine/Post-Famine (i.e., 1830s/40s). What the proportion of Orange to Green was, I have no idea. There would have been some Scottish immigration, but I don't know how much. And some English, presumably, but my impression is that the bulk of settlement was Irish.

Lumbering was the big economic activity, so many men spent much of the year in whatever sort of camps went with whatever aspect of lumbering they were involved in - and those camps were hotbeds of folklore/arts of all kinds. And there was considerable contact via the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers with Ottawa and Montreal. So, room for all kinds of influences and creativity.

Having said all that - I don't know quite what those mostly-Irish settlers brought with them in the way of music and dance. Reg Hall in his book on Irish music in London talks about dance and music in Ireland at the period in question - but I've forgotten most of what he said ... !


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 04:00 PM

negativity- we're talking the Gaelic League and more recently Comhaltas- who put the music & dance in a straitjacket from which it is still not free.

Fortunately, they didn't penetrate the far extremities of the country, ad some of the 'sean nos' did survive, no thanks to the aforementioned and the Church.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 04:50 PM

[correction: Famine/Post-Famine (i.e., 1840s/50s)]


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 07:46 PM

Well I did a bit of Scottish Step Dance when I was 10 - 15 years younger - I was semi-old even then! And that foot crossing over step was referred to as the "Broken Ankles" step.
In this video: you get the "broken ankles" step coming in at 2.00: it involves transferring weight from one foot to the other while bending the knees!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AP_i9v1wyk&list=RD4AP_i9v1wyk&t=214


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST,Marcia Palmater
Date: 20 Nov 17 - 09:20 PM

I was delighted to see the video of the legendary Cape Breton step dancer Willie Fraser; he has a tune written on his honor! Perfect, classic Scots Gaelic stepping, close to the floor. I doubt there?s any Irish influence. The dancing in this Gaelic-speaking island came with the music, from the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Nov 17 - 03:11 AM

"negativity- we're talking the Gaelic League and more recently Comhaltas- who put the music & dance in a straitjacket from which it is still not free. "
I'm delighted to agree with you on both counts, but am just as delighted to inform you that both appear to be a thing of the past as far as what is now happening here
The great Irish music researcher, Brendan Breathnach, once summed up Comhaltas beautifully when he described it as "an organisation with a great future behind it"
The music here has (to use a local phrase) taken feet of its own and is forging its own future in the hands of new-coming youngsters, independent of the competition ethos that once drove so many non- medal winners away.
As far as dance is concerned, my introduction (as an observer) was to be able to visit a bar, Gleeson's, some miles out of town and wath elderly locals dance the Clare sets to the music of Junior Crehan and his colleagues (known fondly as 'Dad's Army' or 'The Stiff Six) - not an adjudicator to be seen for miles.
The church's collusion with the Government which led to the virtual destruction of dancing at home (after they had destroyed crossroads dancing) is deserving of a study on its own
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 21 Nov 17 - 03:49 AM

'known fondly as 'Dad's Army' or 'The Stiff Six'

Hmm, I heard 'the six stiffs' used a few times at the time, still fondly though.

Not been to the Fleadh in Ennis this year, Jim? They haven't gone away completely.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Nov 17 - 06:17 AM

"Not been to the Fleadh in Ennis this year, Jim? They haven't gone away completely."
Stopped going to the Fleadhs back in the sixties Peter - too crowded and too precious
I know they haven't gone away but they tend to be confined to their own company apart from the Annual national events nowadays.
If you remember, the County Fleadh run in this town a few years ago was a definite non-event
In London, we befriended and recorded a superb fiddle player who was a stalwart CCE teacher until he became disillusioned - fair play to him, when he moved back to Clare he held hi own independent classes right up to his death a few years ago
He can be heard playing HERE
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 21 Nov 17 - 07:42 AM

I remember Fergus playing in the Norfolk Arms in Holloway Road. I think he used to come down from Luton.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 21 Nov 17 - 08:11 AM

I mentioned the Fleadh, in the context of this thread, because of the surprising number of (step/sean-nos) dancers out on the streets, still a post Riverdance wave I assume. It was more or less my first Fleadh (although I did have a quick look at the previous one, while it was near) but it did leave me with the impression Comhaltas is not quite played out yet. You're right ofcourse county fleadhs are unmemorable non events, unless you're into competitions, from the few I have seen.

I can say that when the local branch was set up years ago I received a phone call demanding a list of the people I was teaching at the time (they should become members ofcourse) together with quite incessant questioning about what I taught, who I taught, how many and how often as well as the duration and price of a lesson. The woman in question went as far as trying it on, when no information was forthcoming, by saying she ha a practice set and wanted to know for that reason. I was pretty uncomfortable with the whole incident.

Anyhow, I wouldn't underestimate or dismiss them yet.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Nov 17 - 08:12 AM

I remember the Norfolk Arms too - we used to go to hear Tom McCarthy there
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Nov 17 - 08:23 AM

I have never seen anything like step-dancing from beyond western Europe and North America. However, I am willing to be enlightened ... ?

Hungarian male display dance (like the "legenyes") does a lot of rhythmic floor-hammering, but high leaps are more emphasized than in the styles used in Anglophonia - there is also a lot of leg-slapping and whacking feet together. It's always done in boots. (A later development is the "verbunk", the recruiting sergeant's dance, used by touring recruiters to get peasants to take the Kaiser's schilling, or whatever the word was).

Flamenco is another one, though body movements and castanet clicks are as important as anything the feet do.

There is also the South African miners' gumboot dance, which presumably comes out of indigenous African tradition. The steps are heavier and slower than British Isles stepdance (they have to be, in gumboots).


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: meself
Date: 21 Nov 17 - 11:20 AM

Thanks for that, Jack - I've never seen the Hungarian dancing or the South African 'gumboot dance' - but that one makes me think of the Canadian singer Stompin' Tom Connors' explanation of his song Gumboot Cloggeroo: in the Prince Edward Island of his youth, the fishermen would be in such a hurry to get to the dance and onto the floor that they wouldn't bother taking off their gumboots. Gumboot Cloggeroo

************

Jim, thanks again: in one thread, you've given me Irish dancing I could watch all day, and now Irish fiddling I could listen to all day.

I'm about fifteen minutes into McTaggert. Couple of points of interest - or not .... The first tunes, listed as 'reels' would generally be considered 'jigs'. Number 5, listed as 'Gan Ainm', I know as two tunes recorded and popularized by the Cape Breton fiddler Winston Fitzgerald: Southern Melodies and Polo March. I would be surprised if Fitzgerald were not the direct or indirect source. Here he is: Southern Melodies/Polo March


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Mr Red
Date: 21 Nov 17 - 03:12 PM

"unlike the negativity still prevalent in Ireland,"

until Michael Flatly and Riverdance - step dancing in Ireland had the same status that Morris dancing has still in the UK.

Nothing succeeds like success!

When I was in NZ 30 years ago the Hungarian dancers were so well synchronised I figured that an exile troupe were probably better than most in the "home" country.

Not only connection between each dancer, but a lingering connection with Hungary via at least to generations.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Nov 17 - 06:04 AM

The point of Hungarian stomping dances is for the males to show off. So there isn't much synchronized activity - they take solos in sequence. You find a similar setup in dances from the Caucasus, though stepping isn't much in evidence there (look on YouTube for Chechen dances).

Has there ever been courtship-display dance of that type in the British Isles? A guy clogging on a board doesn't have quite the same pulling power.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Nov 17 - 07:03 AM

"step dancing in Ireland had the same status that Morris dancing has still in the UK."
On the contrary
Step-dancing within the communities was always a part of local dancing traditions
Flatley's superficialised version of that dancing may have taken it outside the communities (just as the "four pullovers singing in harmony" approach did with folk song), but these usually prove to be passing fads which disappear when they are no longer money-spinners for concert organisers, who will then move on to richer pastures.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Marje
Date: 22 Nov 17 - 11:35 AM

I dunno, Jack - I think a lot of the flamboyant stomping is aimed at impressing and subduing other males just as much as showing off to females. I can imagine that some women could admire a step dancer who danced skilfully and nimbly, demonstrating strength and stamina.

The morris tradition has some "display" features of this sort, both in the single jig which includes much leaping and showy movements by a single dancer, and in some of the team dances, e.g. the corner dances where pairs of men take turns at springing and stepping opposite each other.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 09:49 AM

Was the horses skull under the floor put there to make a resonant space for dance or did it have another significance and just happened to ring.

And did the Lancashire clog tradition come about because immigrant Irish mill workers wore clogs? (Not saying that all step dancing is Irish though)


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 10:00 AM

Mill workers and miners in Lancashire wore clogs for many generations. And many of the early migrants to the area in the 18th century came from weaving communities in Scotland - my own ancestors among them. My Irish ancestors from the 1800s (potato famine migrants) were labourers and bricklayers, like many of their kith and kin.

When you have iron shod clogs and cobbled streets, clogging is almost compulsory! :-)


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 11:50 AM

Completely off topic - well nearly - there was a guy living down in Portsmouth a while back. He was a clog dancer and also wore street clogs with irons. Like most towns and cities the local feral yoofs were always abusing and mugging folks. Anyway one night said guy was walking down the main street when a gang of such yoofs approached looking for trouble. He hadn't a chance. But then the clogs-wearing-guy lifted one foot and brought it down on the pavement with an immense shower of sparks. In the olden days Northern kids old loved to do this but afterwards always got a bollocking from their parents for wearing out the soles. Reportedly the yoofs took off thinking that they'd met the devil.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 11:58 AM

Quote: Mill workers and miners in Lancashire wore clogs for many generations. And many of the early migrants to the area in the 18th century came from weaving communities in Scotland - my own ancestors among them. My Irish ancestors from the 1800s (potato famine migrants) were labourers and bricklayers, like many of their kith and kin.

When you have iron shod clogs and cobbled streets, clogging is almost compulsory! :-) Unquote

It is one of the sounds now well lost from Lancashire and Yorkshire - the sound of the hundreds or thousands of workers' clogs on the cobbles as they went to / from the factories / mills.

There are free clips of such at the BFI Player site.

https://player.bfi.org.uk/search/free?q=mill%20workers


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 12:43 PM

"Was the horses skull under the floor put there to make a resonant space for dance"
Yes Mo - display dance by the men - battering.
We discovered similar practices in Northern Greece dating back to when churches were built in hollows if order not to be spotted easily by the Turks
We were told that animal skulls were placed under the floors and in the pillars to improve the acoustics
There are still cottages here
Off topic - clogs
A story recorded by a friend of ours back in the mid-sixties

DICKIE BITHELL AND THE KICKING MATCH, Jack Oakes, Bolton, Lancashire, England
Years ago there used to be kicking matches and they used stand up and put their 'ands on their shoulders, 'bout a yard apart, and they used kick at then-shins wi' clogs on. And, er .... owd Dickie Bithell was the champion of Wigan. And this stranger came, came in this pub this 'ere day. So they had a game of dominoes and then they stalled talking about these kicking matches. So me dad says, "Well, owd Dickie Bithell's the champion of Lancashire." So this feller kept quiet. So me dad said again, "Owd Dickie Bithell's the champion of Lancashire."
So this feller's turned round to me dad, he says: "If you'll give me the first kickin', I'll have a go at owd Dickie."
Owd Dickie says, "Right, put your two pound down." So this stranger puts two pound down. So they go outside in a field and they stand up together and bate of one another's shoulders, arm's length. So this stranger takes the first kick -1 wish I could show you - and he kicks owd Dickie. Well owd Dickie goes rigid hisself to take the strain. So owd Dickie had his kick; so he kicks the stranger and the stranger did the same; take the strain.
So he carried on four or five times. So owd Dickie turned round to me dad, he said, "This stranger's no mug; he's a fair 'un."
"Go on, cany on Dickie", me dad said. So he carried on three or four more times.
Owd Dickie says, "I'm finished; he's too good. Give him the money." So me dad, looking at owd Dickie's legs, there were blood, snot and 'air hanging down his leg, he were in a bad way, you know.
So he says, "All right, give him the money."
So they said to t'other feller, "Let's have a look at your leg." When they looked at his leg, he'd a wooden leg. So they took the two pound off him and clear him out of pub.
Recorded by Denis Turner, 1966.

The 'sport' of kicking appears to have been popular throughout England until comparatively recent times. We have been told that, in Norfolk, contestants would sit on opposite sides of a pub table and take turns at kicking each other's shins until one gave up. The contest is all the more vicious in Jack Oakes' story as the clogs the combatants wore would have been metal tipped. Dickie Bithell would seem to have been a local character; Mr. Oakes had a number of stories about him.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 12:45 PM

Sorry - missed a bit
"There are still cottages here where the old people can take you to the exact spot and bang of the battering pot
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 01:20 PM

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I saw clog fight (when I was a kid) in a small'ish mill town in Lancashire. The men's ankles were tied loosely - about 18" long cords - so they couldn't break away unless they gave in. No wooden legs, though!

This would be about 1950 - the one and only time I ever saw such a thing. My aunt was taking me out for a walk and stopped to watch. She got a bollocking from my grandma for letting me see it.


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 26 Nov 17 - 08:42 AM

Jim - Slightly off topic,"in Northern Greece dating back to when churches were built in hollows if order not to be spotted easily by the Turks" - I've seen similar examples in Bulgaria where they were under the Turkish 'yoke' for a few hundred years & there is also a quite significant Greek influence in the country!Which makes it such a fascinating country (not to mention the Slavic, Bulgar & Russian influences!)


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Subject: RE: Stepdancing - how much is Irish?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 26 Nov 17 - 09:51 AM

Well, the step dancing you referred to esp as in the apalachians are certainly of Irish influence but have lots of other elements from many parts of Europe and other areas as is the case with American Country music


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