Stepdance Day 2023

A report of the day by Shirley Harry


Morning session
Julian Rowe runs workshop with musicians Sue and Adrian Carlton supporting

What a joyous Sunday afternoon we had in Worlingworth on 16th July.  Stepdance day hasn’t been held at The Swan since 2015.  Last year we moved counties to Cambridgeshire and had a surprisingly good turnout but the news that the Stepdance Competition would be back at the Worlingworth Swan brought out many past supporters and also lots of new people who’d never tried it before.

EATMT Trustee and working party member Lindsay Want had the brilliant idea of adding a new interest for non-dancing participants (and possibly non-musicians) with a showcase and workshop in the Community Centre for jig dolls.  Jig dolls seem to be a growing attraction generally in traditional music settings and there were at least 30 participants at the workshop and presentation by Julian Rowe.

Julian makes and decorates his own jig dolls, as his father did before him, and brought them along at the invitation of Doreen West and myself to display and lend for the occasion, alongside those made for sale for the Trust by Norfolk craftsman Peter Cousins.  Many people also brought their own along with some interesting shapes and styles.

Powerpoint Exhibition
LIndsay & Fiona Workshop
Janet Abbott, Gloria Buckley & Doreen West, Judges
Peter Cousins’ Jig Dolls for Sale

Meanwhile at the pub, where music had been playing since late morning in the side room, workshops were taking place in the marquee out the back.  Lindsay mentored musicians who wanted to play for stepdancers and then Fiona Davies demonstrated and encouraged would-be step dancers.  Later on, it was competition and raffle time – our EATMT Patron Gloria Buckley worked her usual magic with a huge variety of prizes and was helped to sell the tickets by long-time EATMT volunteer Jean who happens to live in the village.  At the end of the afternoon Gloria announced that over £200 had been raised to help our EATMT charity.

Dance off!
Full House
Linda Watterson with Julian Rowe

But first, it was the turn of the jig-dollers to make their jig dolls strut their stuff – 15 or so of them took part in the competition and Julian and Doreen each picked their favourite to play off against each other for first prize.  Linda Watterson narrowly beat Sue Beecroft but really everyone was a winner.  A regular feature for future Step Dance days methinks.  There were two stepdance categories and each participant did a turn to his or her chosen music in front of the judges – Gloria Buckley, Doreen West and Janet Abbott – with Fiona introducing.

Josh Dart winner of the Steve Monk Tankard
Dom Smith winner of the Font Whatling Cup
Stevie Chenery winner of best newcomer
Lucy Watson
Michael Czarnobaj with Steve Monk’s Concertina
A crowd pleaser!

Many thanks must go to the many musicians for playing for the steppers but in particular to David Mitchell who had to step in at the last minute to play for the Font Whatling Competition. The Steve Monk Tankard was awarded to Josh Dart and the Font Whatling Trophy was awarded to Dominic Smith, with other awards being made to Stevie Chenery, Mo Allum and Lucy Watson.

And to round off a magnificent day, a music session carried on in the pub through the evening.

Robert Hunt
Stevie Chenery and musicians
Fiona Davies
Mossy Christian and Megan Wisdom with
One Row Records
Sue Mitchell with musicians Nicky Stockman,, Erin and Barry Watson
Evening Session

Shirley Harry

For a selection of videos taken by Gemma Khawaja of the day see our YouTube site HERE

Photographs by EATMT, Shirley Harry and Denise Brentnall

In addition to the thanks in Shirley’s report, EATMT are extremely grateful to the small team who helped bring this event together – Fiona Davies, Doreen West, Janet Abbott and Lindsay Want. We are also grateful to Mark, Peter, Eliza, Shirley and Andy for their help on the day as well as the community centre team and the Swan staff for their excellent service. A huge shout out to Bayard from Magic Marquees and to Cllr Matthew Hicks and his Suffolk County Council locality budget for helping cover part of the costs of the marquee, to Gemma Khawaja for filming the afternoon and to One Row Records. We are delighted with the huge number of people who travelled across several counties to be with us. The Instep Research Team were sponsors of this event.