Gold Badge for Antony Heywood

Gold Badge presentationAntony Heywood has been awarded the EFDSS Gold Badge.  We are honoured that the Gold Badge was presented at the FCSH workshop on 30 September 2018.  Nicolas Broadbridge (Scotland), who has known Antony since they met in Cambridge nearly sixty years ago, was asked to write the Citation.  He read it before presentating the Gold Badge.

Antony is well known and respected throughout the English Country Dance world.  He has been involved in several traditional dance forms including morris and longsword, as well as English Country Dance.  He has taught in England, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany for over thirty years, and has organised major events in the Netherlands.

He joined the Whirligigs display team led by Marjorie Fennessy in 1963 and met and worked with Pat Shaw at Cecil Sharp House, trying out Pat's researched dances in his 'Another Look at Playford' sessions.  Antony was also a member of London Folk which provided the core dancing at the Albert Hall Festivals for about ten years (Pat produced at least two of these shows.).

The link to Pat Shaw has been an important part of his work over the years.  He is a member of the Pat Shaw Legacy Group with particular responsibility for the development of the website.  With Marjorie Fennessy, Antony edited and laid out the book New Wine in Old Bottles, fifty-four dances by Pat Shaw to old Dutch tunes, published by the Dutch Folk Dance Society in 1996.  He has been involved in the lay-out (by means of desk-top publishing and preparing music for publication) of three further books by or about Pat Shaw.

Antony has also published two books of his own dances, An Enchanted Place and Dance to the Music of Time, and other publications with Nicolas Broadbridge and Marjorie Fennessy.

One of Antony's major contributions internationally is his Dance Database which is used extensively in the UK, USA and elsewhere.  Containing almost 16,000 entries (English, contras and squares), it enables users to search for dances in a particular formation, or containing selected figures, or by author or by source.

Antony is also a long-standing member of the Friends of Cecil Sharp House.

Deeds Not Words

FCSH Committee member Louise Siddons' article, 'Deeds Not Words: Celebrating Suffrage with English Dance,' has been published in the Country Dance and Song Society's autumn issue of CDSS News (see page 30).  The article reports on our 24 June workshop celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage and its underpinnings.

As part of the celebration, the Friends commissioned Hazel Moir to write a new dance, 'Deeds Not Words', to a new tune by the same name composed by Rebecca King.  The dance and tune are also published in this issue of CDSS News or you can see them here.

Jen Gibson

Our wonderful Secretary, Jen Gibson, has died.  Her funeral was held on Friday, 17 August 2018 at the City of London Crematorium.

Jen was an exemplary secretary and committee member.  She did more than her share quickly and efficiently, and with good cheer.  She was 100% loyal to the FCSH: we last met at our July workshop to which she had struggled, despite a knee injury.  She was quick to provide whatever support was needed.  As a committee, we shall miss her sound judgment, sense of humour and extraordinary ability to dissolve knotty problems.

She loved her dancing and travelled widely in order to improve and develop, so she will be remembered fondly by many people in the folk dance world.

Clubs and classes, past and present

Members will remember the Extraordinary General Meetings of 2016, called to debate the EFDSS' plans for the English Country Dance and Morris classes, which had been led successfully by experienced and highly respected volunteers over many years.  The Committee thought members might welcome a report on developments so far.

The reports have been written by the named individuals and do not necessarily represent the views of the FCSH.

Camden Folk Dance Club

Most of the old Thursday Beginners' regulars formed a new folk dance club, which meets at the Primrose Hill Community Centre, just up the road from Cecil Sharp House.  Dave Kerridge went with them as the regular caller.  It is early days, but the hall is nice, the camaraderie born of the determination to found a new club is encompassing new dancers and attendance is good, usually in the low twenties.  Dave has been presenting some slightly more challenging dances and the club has just purchased its very own amp.  Most club members miss the live music they enjoyed at Cecil Sharp House and many hope to be able to have a band again someday.  The club faces the usual challenges of publicising itself and recruiting / retaining new members.  As a new FDC, it also needs to accumulate a small financial cushion and develop an experienced committee.  But Camden FDC has begun well, bolstered by the loyalty of its members.

Judith De Witt

English Folk Dance Class

The new class at Cecil Sharp House was launched this term, with Mike Ruff as lead caller and teacher, assisted by Mary Hartwell and backed up by a live band led by Ian Cutts.  I have enjoyed 5 sessions with them so far, alongside a small mixed group ranging from 'never done it before' through to 'done it quite a lot', and there's something for all of us in the class.  Mike teaches a range of dances — mostly English Social Dance — including steps, figures, timing and spacing.  He also explains the historical and geographical context of the dances, their origins and variations, encouraging questions and contributions.  So the evening consists of a mixture of listening, watching, practising and dancing — with a tea break in the middle.  Mike and Mary demonstrate steps and movements, and relate the dancing to the music, showing how it fits together — while the band, obligingly and cleverly, play examples as Mike is explaining them.

It's a tricky business running a class to meet the needs of the absolute beginner as well as the experienced dancer and Mike has made a good start.  The dancers are keen to learn and participate and all of them are enjoying themselves.  Despite EFDSS' laudable investment in publicity, it would be good to have more dancers in the class — and see them "graduate" to join clubs in London and beyond.

Jen Gibson


Most of John Russell's morris class decided to form an independent group:

Early days with our breakaway Morris group but making progress.  We practice weekly on Tuesday evenings from 7pm very close to St Pancras station at Coopers Lane Tenants & Residents Association (communal hall), 2 Hampden Close, NW1 1HW.  We are in the process of creating a website and updating our Facebook page plus printing some leaflets so we can start a recruiting campaign.  We need more dancers for sure!

John has retired as Squire and comes along occasionally.  We have elected a new Squire, Bagman and Foreman (dance instructor).  New Squire is Micha Cole-Wilkin, Bagman is Benjamin Walker and Foreperson is Michelle Griffiths (who dances with The Belles).  Michael Jewitt and myself support the side as musicians and I have also taken on the responsibility of marketing and recruiting.

David Pope

Morris Class at Cecil Sharp House

The Morris teaching sessions at Cecil Sharp House have also been reorganised.  A well paid, employed and all round talented Andy Richards has taken over from likewise good egg volunteer John Russell.  As far as I know, a syllabus suitable for new learners attending regularly through the term has been implemented.  Despite a professional publicity offensive (photo shoot, social media blitz, article in Time Out, etc.) numbers have proved disappointing to the point of non-viability.  This is not in anyone's interests.  Even local morris team London Pride are asking themselves how, although clearly not part of the target market, they can help preserve a morris presence in the home of the folk revival.  Historically, the Friends of Cecil Sharp House (FCSH) has helped EFDSS financially with funding for projects, general assistance etc.  to promote folk activity at the House.  With a restructuring of the running of events, this is no longer practicable and it makes sense for the FCSH to help increasingly with non-monetary inputs: advocacy, publicity, volunteer support.  To this end, I have approached the dance development manager to discuss the situation, and whether and how FCSH can assist.

Jeremy Monson