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Library Lecture: Cornish Folk Dance by Merv and Alison Davey

  • Date: 13th Feb 2019
  • Cecil Sharp House
  • Organiser: EFDSS
  • Website

“Folk dance is more than just a collection of steps movement and music; it is a form of human expression and its essence lies within its community role and social context rather than purely commercial or artistic interests. The story of folk dance in Cornwall, from medieval roots, through narratives of the nineteenth Century folklorists, the activity of the Celtic revivalists and on to the present day, is a fascinating one that reflects the distinct cultural profile of Cornwall.

There are a number of different threads that can be followed in Cornish folk dance. This talk will explore the arcane world of the Cornish Guise dancer, the intricate steps of “Scoot Dancing” the ubiquitous Furry dance, the serpent dance and the intriguing named “Snail Creep”. We will look at the social context of folk dance from the Methodist Tea Treat and the rather less sober “troyls” of the fish cellars and how these relate to folk dance in Cornwall today.

Merv and Alison Davey have been involved as researchers and practitioners of Cornish dance since the 1970s. Alison is a dance teacher and works in schools as well as running the Cornish Youth Dance group “Tan Ha Dowr”(Cornish: Fire and Water). Merv completed a PhD on Cornish folk tradition at Exeter University and is director of the An Daras Cornish Folk Arts Project. Both are Cornish speakers and Bards of the Cornish Gorsedd. They are part of the team that organises the Lowender Peran Celtic Festival in Newquay each November. Most weekends will find them busy with the family group North Cornwall Ceili Band.”