Stepdance Day 2022

Sunday 24th July, Chippenham Village Hall, Cambs

What a lovely afternoon! We were grateful to everyone who came to support this event. We had visitors from Beds, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and particularly wonderful to receive support from the Cambridgeshire Crowd of musicians and dancers. There were regular faces but also some new ones too which is always lovely to see.

The day started with a Stepdance workshop run by both Fiona Davies and Cambridgeshire stepper Michael Czarnobaj. We had 7 willing learners and once the steps were in place the dancers were accompanied by the lovely James Delarre on fiddle.

A workshop followed for musicians to learn some of the traditional stepdance tunes commonly heard in East Anglia and this gave our new dancers the opportunity to join in and have a go in a more sociable session setting. Our thanks to Ron Ross who chose a number of traditional tunes to share. A selection of those tunes can be found below. These all come from EATMT’s tunebook “Before the Night Was Out” which is available to buy HERE.

The competitions

The competition side of afternoon usually now consists of two stepdancing competitions – the Steve Monk Competition is the reason this event was set up and its purpose is to allow anyone to take part, in any style, with any footwear and dancing to any tune. It’s the competition that reflects the character of Steve Monk who was a musician and dancer and always welcoming and encouraging to everyone who wanted to have a go.

In order to keep the relaxed feeling for the dancers, we decided that the competition for the Steve Monk competitors could choose their tune and the attending musicians ably pulled together to produce a united tune for our dancers to dance to.

The Font Whatling competition was set up after EATMT took over the running of the day from the Delarre family and it is a competition that showcases the tradition – taps or blakeys are not permitted, the specific “East Anglian Stepping style” is the showcase here and dancers must dance to one musician who plays two specific tunes (Oh/Old Joe the boat is going over & Pigeon on the Gate). Due to a lack of dancers able to compete specifically in this competition, it was decided to postpone that competition and focus on the Steve Monk Competition. We will try again with the Font Whatling competition on Saturday 10th September in Stowmarket where Stepdancing features heavily at East Anglian Traditional Music Day.

We are extremely grateful to our three judges for the afternoon – EATMT Patron Gloria Buckley, musician, dancer and EATMT friend Pam Ross and Stepdance Day co-ordinator Fiona Davies.

The guidance for the stepdance competitors explains:

The spirit of the Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Competition is to encourage new dancers of all ages to take part…marks will be given for flair, interpretation, dancing to the tune and presentation…

EATMT Information for stepdance competitors

We thank Angela Peacock, David Cotter, Mark Cotgrove, Sue Gwynne, Eammon Andrews and Michael Czarnobaj for taking part. After the first round, there was a tie break between Angela, Eammon and Michael who had to dance again and the final award was made to Eammon Andrews with runners’ up trophies awarded to Angela and Michael. Best Newcomer trophy was won by the “very lively and stylish” dancer, Sue Gwynne.

Credit N Stockman

The Percy West plate was donated to the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust by Doreen West – Percy West’s wife – after his death and it is awarded to someone who has been instrumental in promoting Stepdancing in East Anglia. This year, Patron Gloria Buckley awarded the plate to Fiona Davies who continues to promote the tradition at numerous festivals in East Anglia and further afield and who rallies round for the Trust’s events at every opportunity. A very deserving recipient!

Gloria Buckley MBE presenting Fiona Davies the Percy West plate for services to Stepdancing
Credit N Stockman

Following the presentations, the hall was cleared and a number of people moved down the road to the Tharp Arms public house who warmly received the musicians and dancers and a delightful music & stepdance session was struck up.

Alex would like to give a BIG shout out to the following people who helped get this event off the ground and for helping to deliver the day:

Fiona Davies, Nicky Stockman, Erin Watson, James Delarre, Ron Ross, Pam Ross, Michael Czarnobaj and patron Gloria Buckley. Also thanks to Mark, Tony and Eliza for running the refreshments and Tharp Arms for welcoming us after the usual proceedings.

Thanks to all participants – musicians and dancers – thank you for joining in and for the audience who made the trip to see us, thank you for coming and hope to see you again sometime soon!

Videos to be uploaded in due course. Come and join in with more stepdancing at FolkEast and Traditional Music Day on Saturday 10th September.

July 2022