Here is a review of our fourth Cotswold Morris workshop held on 28th March 2021, for over 60 participants from the UK, Netherlands, and Sweden to learn two jigs – ‘Nelson’s Praise’ and ‘Jockie to the Fair’ in the style of Ilmington.
Ab van Barneveld who zoomed in from the Netherlands writes:
“I attended this workshop with much pleasure. Our hosts were dancers Andrew (Drew) Knight and Lin Steel, and musician Tony Warren on mandolin from the Knights of King Ina jig team in Somerset.
“Paul Bryan from The Traditional Ilmington Morris Men in Warwickshire participated sometimes by answering questions for instance about the Ilmington style.
“When I started Morris dancing in 1996, I first learnt some Ilmington dances because Utrecht Morris ran workshops for several weeks in the Ilmington style tradition. Since then, I have a special relationship with Ilmington. Every time we dance it, it is as if I meet an old acquaintance.
“Before the Lockdowns I was not very busy with jigs. We always practiced one jig at the end of our rehearsal evenings. During a performance one of our younger dancers would do a jig so that the older ones like myself could rest and breathe.
“Thanks to the Morris Federation/KOKI workshops I now feel much more capable to jig in public when that will be possible again.
“Our team has been dancing using Zoom almost since the beginning of the pandemic. Although it is nice to see each other and hear the familiar tunes, I noticed that my dancing got sloppy. I mostly dance in position six at the back of the set. I found out that I had become more dependant of the examples of the men in front of me than I was aware of. And in our kitchen, there were no other dancers. (And the music went slower then the other men on the display danced).
“The precise explanations and the thorough demonstrations of Andrew and Lin were, and are, helpful for me to stay in shape, in form. And I experienced the workshop(s) as uplifting.
“On one hand Andrew’s historical research and his search for <long legs> provide a reliable and firm ground. On the other hand, Andrew gives in a relaxed, light-footed way, all the space for an individual approach.
“In his own words: <Jigging is yours … it is your dance and your expression of the dance. A jig is not a finished project. Do not nail it, but learn. Fill it with your performance>. That encourages me!
“I love the poetic expressions like: <the slows are slightly fast and the fasts are slightly slow> or …<the timing is based around lots of bouncy heights and flight time>. And I can follow that if I find that the main stepping is too slow, or that I don’t jump high enough. And also that if I go too fast I will lose the expression of the steps and the features of the Ilmington style.
“I also want to mention that from the workshop I got a greater insight in technical details of the Ilmington style. For instance I learnt to turn my hand-palms out/forward. And also that it is useful not to focus on the <flick> or <snatch>.
“At first, I did not understand the counting in the slows of the 16 bars. It was very useful to be able to watch the workshop again on YouTube. Now I know that you count in 3 and that 5 times. That means that there is one bar of the 16 left. So now I can follow that at the second slow there is an extra handclap.
“I now realise that a good relationship with your musician is essential. <Buy a pie and beer for him or her!>
“And I realise once more the necessity of warming-up and warming-down. Andrew is an osteopath and makes it very clear how important that is.
“In summary … I enjoyed the workshop! I am very grateful for the inspiring way Drew, Lin and Tony gave it!
by Ab van Barneveld is a member of Utrecht Morris Team (UMT) in the Netherlands
Donations from workshop participants raised money for Yeovil Freewheelers Blood Bikes: https://www.yfwbloodbikes.org/
You can see the video of the Ilmington style jigs workshop on the MF YouTube channel.