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Archive -> Autobiography -> ‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 44 Page 154-155

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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 44 Page 154-155

Comments on the dancing

The set dances display a much more lively character and are characterised by wild leaps, twirlings

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round hand clapping and the waving of handkerchiefs so that one can easily imagine the present morris as a descendant of the solemn processional up the mountainside to greet the rising sun and the scenes of wild joy on the summit at the appearance of the source of life and light to his waiting worshippers. A robust, vigorous and a joyous liveliness superimposed on a primitive solemnity perhaps sums up the general impression one gets while watching a “side” of traditional dancers.

Again these dancers partook entirely of the spirit of the unlettered peasant, their rhythm was the rhythm of nature, of wind and waves, of the movements of the sun and stars, of waving trees and curling waves, they were danced by those who had never seen a machine driven plough or a mechanical movement. It was a rhythm creative and not destructive. Solemn, deep and irregular as the curves of nature.

……It is not easy to describe the actual steps and figures of these purely traditional dances. For the most part the men who held the tradition handed down from father to son through

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countless generations were very old, with faltering steps and failing memories, and it was only after seeing many dancers on many occasions that one could get any idea of how these dances should be preserved.

For no two sides of dancers did a particular dance in precisely the same way. No two men in the side did the step in the same way, and no one danced it in exactly the same way on two separate occasions. Another difficulty is that if a dancer is asked to repeat a step or a figure he has to go right back to the beginning of the dance and one has to watch carefully for the needed step to note it or again and again the dance must be repeated all over again.

…..Mr. Sharp published more of his Folk Songs from Somerset and we had them on sale at all our concerts. I think the dances created so much interest in the songs that they gave wings to them and they began to sell as never before.

…Then Mr Sharp asked me if he might give a little talk in the middle of our concerts and from that small beginning began his success as a lecturer.
 



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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 44 Page 154-155