Yesterday our dancing leader Alex and a couple of our more experienced dancers tried out a beginners’ Cornish dancing workshop on me (fiddler) and Tom (mandolinist). More accustomed to counting in 4s, 6s, 2s and even 5s we were not sure what to expect but we looked forward to trying having never done much dancing before.
The basic step we learnt is 1, 2, 3, hop! I think that is its technical term. It fits any dance with a 4/4 rhythm like a furry or a serpent and more besides. But we were keeping it simple. You start with your right foot always (with a few exceptions) and going from one to the other until the fourth beat hop. The hop isn’t an obvious ‘how long can you stay on one leg’ hop but more subtle and rhythmic, giving your body the movement to move and create shapes and accent the music too.
You swap from right to left with the opposing leg doing the hop each time. You spring from the same foot as beat 3. The dancers were all in their scoots or taps but we were in normal shoes. As musicians we could begin to understand how important it is that we keep together in terms of our timing. When the rhythm of the music and the scoots work together it is a great feeling.
After doing the basic step in different formations (circles in and out, lines) we tried it with a partner. We then did right-hand turns, left-hand turns and created stars where our movement made carousel type forms. Please forgive me for the lack of terminology. I didn’t catch it all, being too focused on ‘right, 2,3, hop! Left, 2,3, hop!’ Changing direction was difficult as you have to time it so you don’t end up with an extra step and therefore out of synch. Then we tried some dosi-dos. I remembered these from doing country dancing at school in deepest inner London many years ago. I was pleased I could 1,2,3 hop dosi-dos in both directions.
Our workshop culminated in dancing the North Cornwall Furry to the tune Bolingey Furry. It was a strange experience dancing to the music we usually play but it gave us a great insight into how important the way we play is to the overall effect of the dance.
Why not give it a go? Come along for a Free beginners’ Cornish dancing workshop: 20 and 27 Jan 2019.
Anyone coming to our beginners’ workshops next week will leave feeling delighted and thrilled if our experience was anything to go by. And what a great workout! Tom said his watch told him he’d burned 200 calories during the session!