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For Sally Mn - Jockey to the Fair

Sallymn has been talking about Elsie Oxenham, the writer of the Abbey School books.

Elsie was an early member of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and wrote a lot about morris dancing in her novels.

Sally said in  reply to a comment of mine:

 "I knew about her experience with the Society (and that she based quite a
  few of the early characters on other members - overtly)

  I'd love to see the dances as they were done then, as she saw them, to

Sally, your wish has come true.  A little over 100 years ago, the earliest known film of English folk dance was made.  Here are Cecil Sharpe, Maud Karpeles and George Butterworth dancing the morris.  

Look especially at Maud Karpeles dancing 'Jockey to the Fair'.  She's a wonderful dancer, a real spring to her step and light on her feet.  And if anyone ever wondered why morris dancers use hankies, look no further.  She uses them to great effect, to emphasise every movement, making it both more visible and more graceful.

There's no music on the film because that wasn't possible back then, but we know what tune Maud was dancing to - the dances were often named for the tunes and Sharp recorded the tunes before he ever thought about recording the dances.

Here's a modern side dancing Jockey to the Fair - they're doing it as a set dance, rather than as a solo jig (both forms were used historically), so you will recognise some of the footwork and some will look different as it's being done on the spot by Maud and the morris men are moving through figures.

I must admit that I'm getting an urge to read some of the Abbey School books.  I shall have to keep an eye open for them.

This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2013 01:52 pm (UTC)
In respect of folk dancing and the Society members, the best book is probably The Abbey Girls Go Back to School. They aren't very well written and there are a great many things that grate now - but they are the ultimate "comfort read when you are down with something horrible and can't think" books.
May. 3rd, 2013 04:33 pm (UTC)
Just looked on Amazon. My goodness, they're expensive. £16-£18 for most of the popular titles - if they can get a copy at all.
May. 3rd, 2013 04:52 pm (UTC)
Girls Gone By do a number of reprints as paperbacks and (fairly) reasonably priced.

All mine came from second hand bookshops and none of them cost more than a couple of quid. The prices do vary because some were reprinted several times and some were never reprinted.
May. 7th, 2013 09:39 am (UTC)
Most of ours came from second-hand shops over the years (and a friend has photocopies of some of the very rarest and sent me copies)

No kidding about the price of the rarer ones - Oxenhams are very collectible and I saw one once on Amazon for over 900 pounds UK. We bought a good-condition copy of an early (and frankly crap) one for $1.50 at an op shop and a year later sold it a year for (as I recall) over $140...
May. 7th, 2013 11:51 am (UTC)
I'm in exactly the same position as you - I have a dozen so or picked up cheap second hand - and a friend who has either originals, reprints or photocopies of all the Abbey books plus the related ones. (It helps that she is friends with a second hand bookseller specialising in children's books...)

(Deleted comment)
May. 3rd, 2013 04:29 pm (UTC)
I thought you'd enjoy it as well!
May. 3rd, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
Wow, I really enjoyed this docummentary, I have never seen anything like that.
And the second sow is great too.-)
May. 4th, 2013 03:52 pm (UTC)
I have most of them inherited from my Granny. I've filled in a couple of the gaps and only have a few left to pick up.
They are a wonderful mixture of middle-class feminism of the time, coupled with some of the rather less pleasant viewpoints. Folk-dancing however is what keeps everbody going.

My Granny did have two EFDS badges - six crossed swords forming a hexagonal star.
May. 5th, 2013 08:24 am (UTC)
The EFDSS still have a similar logo today. It's a longsword lock/knot/nut - a figure often formed by the dancers near the end of the dance.
May. 5th, 2013 11:34 am (UTC)
Aha! I knew I'd not got enough letters in the name :)
May. 7th, 2013 09:23 am (UTC)
Oh wow!!!! Tha's exactly what I wanted - Maud does have the lighness and what you might call 'ladylike' grace that the books make you imagine (Oxenham was snobbish, and it comes through in the books, but given the time and class she was better than she could have been, and probably no worse considering than Disney princess fantasies...)

I'm going to save the clip frm youtube :)

Thak you!
May. 7th, 2013 09:29 am (UTC)
Smile. I'm delighted that you enjoyed it.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Proctor


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