Music/Dances



OUR DANCES AND THEIR TUNES

Some of these dances have been part of Belfagan's tradition since the early days; others are ones we or other sides have created ourselves; others are old dances we have learned from other sides. Some of them have sort of slipped into abeyance, but I've included them here anyway, for the sake of completeness, and who knows, we might bring these sterling old dances back into service again at some point. They're all great dances! I guess we just enjoy learning new ones, and then don't have time to practise everything.
Click on the name of the dance to see the printed music (gif files). As soon as I have a moment I'll be uploading midi files for those who prefer to listen, or don't read the dots, and abc files for those who prefer that method. Watch this space.
DANCE 1st TUNE 2nd TUNE 3rd TUNE NOTES
The Abbey The Keel Row Katie Bairdie/ Kafoozalum A garland dance learned from the Hexhamshire Lasses
Badger's Sett The Jolly Badger Written for Brockhole, the Lake District Vistors' Centre
Belfagan William Taylor's Tabletop Hornpipe A handkerchief dance for 6 created especially for us - now our signature dance. The tune was written by Dave Shepherd, late of Blowzabella, and is more traditionally played in a minor key, and often somewhat slower than we do.
Chandos Five Oyster Girl An interesting dance for 5, learned from Westomorland Step and Garland at a very productive workshop. It's very useful to have a dance for 5, on those days when we only have a few dancers available.
Cumberland Crown The Waterloo Dance A garland dance which can be performed by 6 or 8 dancers. One of our favourites. We often use it when we dance at a wedding, as the happy couple can stand in the middle while we dance around them with specially decorated garlands making a lovely romantic crown over them.
Dolly tune learned from...
Eaglesfield Birds in the Wilderness Eaglesfield is a village near Cockermouth. This attractive, energetic, ranting dance is for groups of 4 dancers with garlands.
Flags Cock o' the North A very fast, energetic dance for 6, learned from the much-missed Jenny Geddes Clog Morris of Edinburgh.
Greenham Long Odds A lovely communal dance, created originally by the women protesters at Greenham Common. We often use it to finish the evening, and encourage all comers to join in.
Hartshead Walter Bulwer's Polka No.1 Gary Owen An interesting dance we learned a few years ago at a workshop, but haven't really got up to performance standard yet.
Hindley Street Rosin the Bow We practise this dance quite a lot, but hardly ever perform it in public, partly, I think, because most of the positions are not interchangeable, so either we need the right people to be present, or everyone needs to learn several positions. The full title of course is The Hindley Street Dance, as in the one danced in the street in Hindley.
Littleborough Rattlin' Bog Donkey Riding Another really nice, but complicated dance, that we haven't danced out for a long time, but since we do keep revisiting it at practice it's included here. Maybe this season?
Mona's Delight Eunyssagh Vana One of our very favourite dances, Mona's Delight is named after Mona Douglas, an inveterate collector of folk tunes and Dances in the Isle of Man. The tune is traditional Manx, and the dance, when performed in shoes rather than clogs, is very elegant. (Belfagan don't really do elegant.)
Plymouth Soldier's Joy Another dance we used to perform a lot more often than we do now, it involves sets of 3 so is ideal when not many dancers turn up.
Poulton John of Paris Hot Punch A really interesting dance to watch, we learned it quite recently at a workshop and have quickly incorporated it into our repertoire.
Portland (Hill) Jamie Allan Astley's Ride Davie Davie Nick Nack A wonderfully complex dance which everyone enjoys performing, taught to us by Great North Clog, another great morris side which is no longer with us.
Rose and Crown Roxburgh Castle Flowers of Edinburgh Learned in recent years at a workshop with Betty Lupton's Ladle Laikers, and now one of the favourites of both dancers and musicians, who enjoy the challenge of playing those great Scottish tunes really fast!
Shawforth The Olive Branch A favourite of ours, Shawforth is a good stomping, ranting dance with garlands - it's all that's best in NW clog dancing and everyone enjoys it. If you've ever watched Belfagan in action, this is the one with the high kicking!
Silly Molly Speed the Plough Silly Molly comes from the East Anglian molly dancing tradition, and in its pure form involves men dressed as big clumsy women. Even performed by real women it's not what you'd call a gentle, demure sort of dance.
Singleton Dorset 4-hand Reel A nice dance for groups of 4 dancers, which follows very closely that original Dorset 4-hand Reel on which it's based.
St Giles The Athole Highlanders. The signature dance of the sadly defunct Jenny Geddes Clog Morris from Edinburgh. They taught it to us a number of years ago, and we now dance it regularly in order to keep it alive. (Also, we love dancing it, despite it being very energetic!) It's a really attractive and interesting dance, which depicts the crown of Edinburgh's St. Giles' Cathedral in the final figure.
Whitby Whitby Shindig This garland dance represents various features of the town of Whitby, and was also taught to us by Jenny Geddes Clog Morris. One of our favourites.
Wigton A Hundred Pipers Originally created as a processional dance for Wigton carnival, we mostly perform it in situ these days, though still know how to process to it when the need arises.
Yellow Sheepskin Yellow Sheepskin An unusual dance for any number in a circle, this one is more concerned with interesting steps than with interesting figures. Taught to us by the Hexhamshire Lasses, we usually do it with some of the musicians standing in the centre while the dancers whirl around them.
...ALSO ...
Missing from this list are a number of dances we used to perform, but are still in my music book. Many of our more recent recruits have quite probably never heard of them, but for the sake of completeness here's a brief list:
  • Abram Circle Dance which used to be our rain dance: every time we danced it, it rained. We liked it but felt compelled to give up.
  • Ashton to the tune of the same name, plus British Grenadiers. I think most people found it a bit boring.
  • Blackrod. This uses the tune we know as John of Paris when used for Poulton. I don't know why this slipped out of our repertoire. It's a jolly good dance which we should revive.
  • Churchtown to the tune of The Three Sea Captains. We used to use this as our regular processional dance, and I learned to play it on the hoof, as it were, while marching through the streets of Cockermouth during the Cockermouth Carnival one year.
  • Cockermouth. We created a new dance for our 21st anniversary. Original music by Ally McGurk. I suspect it was just too complicated. We worked away at it for ages, but it's never really become part of our repertoire, and even the composer of the tune can't remember it now without looking at the dots.
  • Keswick to the two tunes, Oyster Girl and The Miller of Dee. The musicians liked this better than the dancers who found it a bit long winded and repetitive. We now use the first tune for Chandos Five