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At the heart of English folk


Tower Ravens

#11: Interview with Laura Smyth

Laura is one of the members of the London-based sword-dancing team, Tower Ravens. She is also the Director of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, performs at folk clubs with her partner Ted Kemp (they have an EP out now called The Charcoal Black and The Bonny Grey, which can be purchased at Cecil Sharp House) and plays with ceilidh band, The Spring Heeled Jacks.

Clog Dancing

#10: Clog Dancing

Clog dancing was heavily influenced by its industrial backdrop, providing a reflection of urban working lives during the 19th and 20th century. Dancers incorporated and imitated the liminal sounds of moving vehicles and machinery, Aylis Angus- a clog dancer and traveller from Northumberland, described a man who could perform in clogs the sound of a train travelling across America, each stations ‘points’ registering different sounds.

The Pearly Kings and Queens of London

#9: The Pearly Kings and Queens of London

The Pearly Kings and Queens, a charitable working-class organisation and tradition originating from London’s ‘costermongers’ used a variety of processes in the construction of their unique costumes, many of which are still employed today.

Folk Dance Costume

#8: Folk Dance Costume

Rapper costume in the past was created, mended and modified almost exclusively by female family members and friends. Liminal areas of the home such as backyards, outside the house, doorways and entrances- where many of the domestic chores were carried out- would’ve also been utilized for the purposes of activities surrounding folk dance and drama, particularly the creation and maintenance of costumes.

Construction of Rapper swords

#7: Construction of Rapper swords

The evolution of the flexible steel rapper swords used in the rapper dances is cited as having first come from either old mining tools or “Bed slats made from a spring-steel framework designed to support a mattress on a bed frame.”