Cathy and I have long had a motto. If life is getting us down, if we've had a hard day, if we're a bit tired and we're not sure it's worth the effort of going out dancing, then we've decided we should. Then when we've reached the dance floor and heard the music and started to move, we've felt the troubles of the day or the world lift from our shoulders for a time, and the blood start to flow. The smiles follow soon after, and then the laughter. Soon we are in the dance, in the music and in the moment and nothing else matters. That is the joy of dancing, and that's what I try to bring to the Cygnet dance programme.
- Over the weekend we have 22 different dances, featuring many of the festival's top bands, many much better known as outstanding concert bands, but here paired with skilled callers ready to get you dancing in community and in synch, with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of joy.
- You don’t need to bring a partner or have any dancing experience, just come along and have fun. As Sarah, one of our experienced callers, says “2 left feeters welcome”.
- Dancing can be quite a workout, so bring a water bottle and some sensible shoes. (Street shoes are fine.)
- The dances are all in the Town Hall, a venue with a great wooden dance floor.
- Even if you don't want to dance you're very welcome to come along and watch and listen. The music is fabulous and features some of the festival’s headline acts.
We open with a high energy Next Gen Bush Dance featuring caller and band leader Teri Young and a lively crew of young folk, and go all the way through to Sunday night, closing with a craicing Irish Ceilidh with the phenomenal Tim Scanlan trio. En route, channel your own Fiddler on the Roof with two klezmer dances or bring out your inner hillbilly with an Appalachian Hoedown. Powerhouse quartet Meyers, McNamara, Plumb + Pribac are doing a double bill for us to close the Friday night, with a klezmer dance then our first ever Balfolk Dance Party, lively French folk dancing in the style of the Grand Bal de l'Europe at Gennetines in France, where I spent an amazing week learning Balfolk and other dance styles.
Sheree Greenhill from Queensland is a featured caller this year. For 20 years she has been passionately sharing her love of English dance with beginners and experienced dancers alike. Join in the beautiful patterns of English Country Dancing, or experience the rough and tumble of English longsword dancing or the exciting sequence of figures that make up Cecil Sharp's American Running Set.
Another fine caller, pun intended, is Audrey Fine from Melbourne, who has studied klezmer and other European dancing internationally. Audrey will lead us in one of the klezmer dances and in some social dances of the Balkans and Mediterranean (including Greece), both to the irresistible music of festival favourites Bohemian Nights.
Other dances include Swedish, Morris, When Honky Tonk Meets Swing (lead by our ever popular Moonlight Aviators, Bibiana and Graeme, with Pete Daffy and the Torque Flite Band blasting us back to the 1950s), contra, a southern Italian dance used as a remedy for the poison of the tarantula spider, a family bush dance, high octane Cuban Salsa, a Balkan Roma dance and a Quebecois dance. You can get a big sample of the world of dancing all in one weekend at Cygnet!
So, if you want to take the weight off your shoulders and get your smile on, give it a go. If in doubt, dance!
-- David Wanless, Dance Program Coordinator