There are many styles of traditional folk dance. Many date back for centuries and draw from the materials available to people in their communities and daily lives. We have only been able to show a glimpse into some of these styles. Here you can follow along at home to learn some dances from the Clog, Cotswold Morris, and social dance traditions.
Even puppets dance!
In many traditions, people use puppets to bring their dances and music to life. We explore 2 ways in English dance traditions. Can you think of more?
Introducing Jig Dolls with Jane Pfaff
Jig Dolls have been around for centuries. You might have seen them used by buskers in the marketplace or used as a percussion instrument in music sessions. Jane Pfaff and musician Jeremy introduce us to Jig Dolls and to some of her collection.
After Dinner Clog
Clog dancing is all about making noise with your feet! It is all about using your feet to create the rhythm just like being a drummer.
This style of clog dates back to when Mill workers wore wooden clogs as safety shoes and used them on their time off to have a dance, often competing with each other to out dance their friends.
Why not have a go along with Vikki from After Dinner Clog, accompanied by Manny on the melodeon. All you need is your feet!
After Dinner Clog are from Sheffield and can be found @AfterDinnerClog on facebook
Dance Tutorials with Let's Dance
When not confined to our screens, Jane and Jeremy from Let's Dance, run a range of dance workshops for schools and folk festivals introducing us to Garland, Morris, and Maypole dancing and much more. During the pandemic, they have been experimenting with friends in their bubble to find ways to still have fun with dance safely. They have recorded demos of some dances for us to follow along and have a go at home. Please make sure you have plenty of room around you!
Pat-a-cake polka : Usually danced by clapping and holding hands - let's use pirate sticks to dance a socially distanced Polka
Shepherds Hey : A Cotswold Morris Hankie dance. Grab some hankies, preferably clean, and follow along
Balance the Straw : Cotswold Morris stick dance. Ask a grown-up to help you find something you can clash
Circassian Circle : A socially distanced circle dance .
You can find out more about Let's dance at Special thanks to Jane's Bubble for helping demo these dances for us!
NYFTE (pronounced "nifty") are a team of 10-18 year olds from all over the country, who perform traditional dance, music and song and view Chippenham as their "home" festival - they've been to the festival every year for decades! Unable to meet in person during 2020 due to covid, they put together a number of online performances and collaborative projects instead and the following video is a selection of highlights from these plus footage from their most recent live, in person performances at Whitby Folk Week in 2019. If you are interested in finding out more about NYFTE, including how to join, please visit
Families will enjoy joining in with our zoom ceilidhs and the Keith Donnelly Family Show is not to be missed. Why not buy a ticket for all or part of the weekend?
Tickets available HERE.
Introducing Festival Beasts
When you see Morris teams performing have you seen the charactors that are often prowling tge crowds, Sometimes a creatures of legend lile a skelitol horse, or a dragon ; sometimes an animal symbolic of their teans community like a wild bour or a sheep. Morris beasts or obby oss are sometimes fun and jolly, sometimes a little scary, they are a lively crowd pleaser along side Morris with a tradition all of their own.
Here are some of the beasts we regularly see visiting us at Chippenham Folk Festival;
The Cardif Morris Dragon, Idris
Gloucestershire Morris Horse, Crumpet
Miserden Morris Wild boar
What sort of charactors have you seen?
Dont forget to check out the Creative Arts tab for a workshop with Wiltshire Scrapstore to make your own Beast!
Click HERE to learn how to make your own festival beast!