Sidmouth FolkWeek 2011 - comments on the dance (1).

blackmore floor 2011.JPG (153920 bytes) Blackmore Gardens Marquee in 2011 - before the dancing had started.

This floor looks adequate - it has a significant slope especially at the far end and the surface is unvarnished wood - which has insufficient slip for serious social or advanced ceilidh dancing.

But it is an improvement on 2010.

The available dance area is about 20m by 8.5m (170m2), so it would have been comfortable for 90 to 100 dancers and workable (but uncomfortable) for up to maybe 150.

The overall size of the marquee was 30m by 12m.

So far so good.

blackmore floor 2011 2.JPG (161576 bytes) Showing some of the possible rearwards extension to the dance area.

People who still wanted to watch could either stand in the side area or outside the marquee - and it might be raining. It would serve them right for not dancing!

In the event, the number of dancers in 2011 rarely exceeded 70 or 80 and was often between 30 and 50, so there was plenty of room to dance. This was a distinct and most welcome advantage over the crowded church halls of previous years - but not that welcome for the organisers who must have been hoping for higher numbers.

But it will take years to re-estabish Sidmouth's reputation as a leading dance festival.

sidmouth blackmore 2011 notice.jpg (252668 bytes) You can tell if things are going badly when special discounted tickets are advertised every night.

There was excellent music from The Watch on day one.

One 'new idea' for 2011 for evening ceilidhs in Blackmore Gardens was a 7 to 8pm 'family hour'.

A moment's thought would tell you the new ticket structure might not work. Would families pay 15 at 7pm and be expected to take their inexperienced children home at 8pm so ceilidh dancers could thrash around?

However, if FolkWeek is seriously interested in getting experienced dancers to mix with children and their parents then offering 'mixed ability' dance sessions in which groups of experienced dancers would mentor and partner far less experienced people (of all ages) to achieve 'fast track' learning would be better.

But only the pupils might be expected to pay. The 'teachers' would be offering a service to the festival.

Something along those lines might make more sense next year.

Inexperienced people should not try to learn to dance with each other - but do the Board of FolkWeek know this?

sidmouth 2011 blackmore early.jpg (130285 bytes) Oh dear me!

Three square sets in a hall that might manage up to 15!

Two of the highly experienced dancers who are here suffering in relative silence are from Dorset - and if things don't improve in 2011 they say it may be their last FolkWeek.

Cat Kelly was bravely trying to create an atmosphere.

This was in the first hour - with about one child in view - there may be another one somewhere......

At 10pm it was a little more crowded - five square sets!

But it was only the first night.

Far more children came for some of the other 7pm to 8pm dances.

But it all seemed silly - the children didn't learn anything, it was just playtime.


sidmouth 2011 st teresas.jpg (133251 bytes) St Teresa's Church Hall at 10pm on the first night.

This was the only social dance venue on the first day. It filled to about 60% of capacity at its peak. At 10pm many people had already gone to bed - tired by their journey earlier in the day.

Why is it that at any folk dance festival, the same people appear in so many of the photographs?

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