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Folkwales Online Magazine September  2012

Gwerincymru — o Gymru o’r byd

Dancewales by Mike Greenwood

or What We Did on Our Holidays...


The National Eisteddfod has been camped on Folkwales’s doorstep in the Vale of Glamorgan during the early part of August, and by all accounts the intrusion of folk music and dance into the heady realms of Welsh high-brow culture has continued to be successfully inflicted. Who cares about the carefully practised and delicately honed team performances on the competition stage when every day of the Eisteddfod week has seen enthusiastic performances on the maes from a great variety of folk dancers from the length and breadth of south and mid Wales to add to the atmosphere generated by so many casual dance music sessions in Pabell Ty Gwerin? The power of the people grows as folk marches ever onwards on a constantly widening front, to make a deeper and longer-lasting impression amongst the adjudicatory classes. The jewel in the alternative crown was surely the unceremonial upstaging of the bardic crowning by the flashmob-style invasion of hundreds of cheerful cloggers into the main pavilion, to join in with the organised clogstep parties on the stage. (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/newyddion/19226293, should it still be available online). Well, we may have gone unnoticed for a long time, but they’ve all seen us now! Onwards and Upwards!


But not everyone from the Welsh folk dance world was content to celebrate their skills in such an introspective environment. That legendary provisional wing of the Welsh National Folk Dance Society known as Tipyn o Bopeth has always been known to boldly go where others fear to tread. This year they snubbed their collective noses at the eisteddfod fraternity and, immediately following involvement in a successful international festival at Cork in south-west Eire, they arranged an assault on England’s, nay Britain’s, premier folk event, Sidmouth Folk Week in south Devon. By all accounts, they gave excellent displays, holding their own alongside the cream of England’s Morris, sword and clog teams, as well as passing on our great Welsh dance and clogstep traditions to the assembled massed dancers in several well appreciated workshops.


Later in the month, Parti Dawns Aberesc headed off towards the opposite end of England, eventually reaching their home port of Whitby, to take their own passionate part in the annual Whitby Folk Week, second only to Sidmouth’s festival in the national pecking order of folk events. So how, you may well ask, does a group demonstrating and teaching the art of Welsh set dance and clogging come to have a home in North Yorkshire? Well, the team likes to think of that picturesque seaport town as a little bit of Wales that’s somehow become detached, its position spanning the mouth of the beautiful Esk valley suggesting its alternative name of Aberesc, thus providing its adopted dance team with an appropriate title! (You may just come across the same bunch of dancers parading elsewhere as Dawnswyr a’r Daith, or some other appropriate pseudonym!)


Countless onlookers as well as members of English dance teams at their various staged and outdoor displays commented that they’d never seen anything so unusual and interesting as the Welsh dance and clogstep repertoire (Well, they should have been there two years earlier at the team’s naissance!), and response from attendees at several social dance and step-dance workshops was little short of overwhelming. “Will you be back next year?” was the oft-repeated question. The week was a personal triumph for the Lloyd family of Tumble. Whilst Geraint licked the dancers into order and led the public workshops, his wife Sara was an important part of the band, and eldest daughter, eight-year-old Mared, charmed absolutely everyone with her delightful solo clogstep routine.


Whitby flashbacks (photographed by Bill Rich, 55 Derwent Road, Honley, Holmfirth HD9 6EL)

Geraint Lloyd and Jane Sheard have a ball in Hoffed Ap Hywel

Dawnswyr Aberesc in the festival parade

Arglwydd Caernarfon by the banks of the River Esk.

Smiles radiate from two of the dancers, Nesta Hughes and Kathryn Davies

Mared Lloyd charms absolutely everybody with her Gower-style clog dance


So I believe hearty backslaps are due to both Tipyn o Bopeth and Parti Dawns Aberesc for turning their backs on the cosy camaraderie of the National Eisteddfod and taking our heritage out to meet a new and appreciative audience on the other side of Offa’s Dyke, carefully teaching the dances and showing everyone what we can do. Wouldn’t it be great to see a steady growth in the number of Welsh dance teams, individuals and organisations getting out there, too? Here’s hoping that the next summer dance season sees an ever greater folk-wise shift in events in and around the National Eisteddfod programme, and even more teams and individuals making a significant impression at folk festivals “over the border”. Hŵyl fawr, iawn!


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Contact: Mick Tems, Editor - Folkwales Magazine, 88 Manor Chase, Y Beddau, Pontypridd, CYMRU / WALES CF38 2JE Phone: 01443 206689

E-mail: micktems@folkwales.org.uk Website: www.folkwales.org.uk