When Maud Karpeles set out to document the tradition of the Britannia Coco-nut Dancers of Bacup in 1929, she was regarded with considerable wariness.
The dancers insisted on drawing up an agreement with the English Folk Dance Society that allowed documentation only—teaching of the dances or their unique tune, Tip top polka, were forbidden—in return for active support from the society. While the mass media have brought them national notoriety since then, the dancers point to the 1929 agreement as the cornerstone of their continuing ability to thrive.
This according to “’In a word, we are unique’: Ownership and control in an English dance system” by Theresa Buckland, an essay included in Step change: New views on traditional dance (London: Francis Boutle, 2001, pp. 48–59). Below, the Nutters perform their signature Tip top polka.
Filed under Dance, Europe
Sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Take six is a searchable online database of the manuscript archives of seven of the U.K.’s most prominent folk song collectors— Janet Blunt (1859–1950), George Gardiner (1852–1910), Anne Gilchrist (1863–1954), Henry Hammond (1866–1910, Sabine Baring-Gould (1834–1924), Francis Collinson (1898–1984), and George Butterworth (1885–1916).
Each of the archives has been completely catalogued and digitized. Most of the documents are songs and tunes, but other manuscript items, such as dances or correspondence, are also included. Many thanks to Tim Radford for bringing this resource to our attention!
Related post: An early Gaelic manuscript
Published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, English dance & song has appeared at least four times a year since it was launched in 1936. The magazine presents festival listings and other news, interviews with current English traditional and neotraditional performers, and reviews of current publications, as well as brief research-based articles that explore historical documents and current practices.
The Society, which was formed in 1932 by the merger of the Folk-Song Society (founded in 1898) and the English Folk Dance Society (founded in 1911), also publishes a scholarly periodical, Folk music journal.