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At the heart of English folk
U.Dance 2012

“Blacking-up” – the debate continues

Following the decision of Shrewsbury Folk Festival not to programme dance sides that “black-up” and the ensuing publicity this brought, EFDSS would like to be clear about its position.

As we understand, historically dancers used soot or burnt cork to disguise their faces but there is evidence to suggest that the boot-polish, full-face, blacking-up tradition gained popularity during the boom of the late 19th Century Minstrelsy tradition.

EFDSS wants to engage all people in the folk arts, regardless of sex, age, race and religion, so we do not support actions that can alienate sectors of the community. We use contemporary images of dance sides that disguise their faces with the use of masks or non-black paint and patterns in our print, online, and teaching resources, and engage such dance sides for EFDSS events and education projects.



National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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