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Friday MAY 17th 2013
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images of
                      Green Men
The spotlight this fifth festival was

Report of the day from Ann & John Bacon, & Dave Johns

Scores of “Green Men” replaced race horses at Plumpton Race Course on Friday 17th May as Plumpton Primary School hosted their “Festival of Traditional Dance” for the 5th consecutive year in the large marquee in an enclosure.

Some 300 children in years 4-6 from Plumpton, Wivelsfield, Chailey, Newick, Hamsey, Fletching, Danehill and Turners Hill Primary schools took part in the Festival.

The morning flashed by in a happy buzz of measuring, cutting, sticking, draping and bending willow wands to create their Green Men masks and figures. 

Gail and Lucy Duff of TRADS led the morning activities assisted by students from Chailey Secondary School who worked with each group of children, passing on the construction skills they had learned in a special workshop run by Gail and Lucy earlier in the year.

Making the Green Men

During the morning each school was given time for a final rehearsal and to familiarise themselves with dancing in a strange place & to get themselves on and off the dance floor tidily.

After a picnic lunch under the trees in thankfully fine weather, an excited crowd of "Green Men" formed up in the enclosure to parade into the big marquee where a large audience of parents and sponsors of the event greeted their entry with rapturous applause.

                          green man made by the children

Parade of the Green Men

The whole day and afternoon performance was masterminded and introduced by Plumpton Primary School teacher and Festival Director, David Johns.

With their “Green Men” ranged around the marquee each school performed their chosen regional dance.

Chailey year 5 danced a neat Cotswold “Shooting” and year 4 a well-called North West Gisburn.

Newick performed a brisk North West and two Maypole dances, “Barbers Pole” and “Spiders Web”.

Fletching danced a spirited North West Processional.

Turners Hill: “Young Dillwyn” Border dance with superb sticking.

Wivelsfield: two well-timed, vibrant and robust Molly dances, “Le Jambe de Jean” and “Fenland Safari”.

Danehill: a lively long set and circle dance with excellent stepping.

Hamsey danced a Border “Fanny Frail” sung using their own words and impressively, to music played by their very own musicians.

Maypole dance
Plumpton School’s “Black Brook Morris” side whirled on with “Swapsies” a five person stick dance followed by three sets of “Sheepskins” using six unsuspecting but good-natured Morris guests to dance round instead of sheepskins!
They finished with “Farmers Away" a clapping dance the Plumpton children wrote 5 years ago!
massed Shepherd' Hey

The afternoon ended appropriately for a Downland village, with everyone (children, parents and sponsors!) joining in a massive, stomping and roof-lifting “Shepherd’s Hey” dance.

This unique community event bringing together children from eight scattered villages across East Sussex to learn about English traditions was sponsored by their schools and local Morris “Sides” (Ditchling, Brighton Morris, Cuckoo’s Nest Ladies Morris, Chanctonbury Morris Men, Hunters Moon Morris, Knots of May Morris and Long Man Morris), Shirley Collins, MBE, The Morris Federation, The Morris Ring, South East Folk Arts Network (SEFAN), Harvey’s Brewery, Lewes and importantly, by Plumpton Race Course.

A member of “The Knots of May Garland Dancers ” Trixie French wrote to us afterwards,“Just to say how much I enjoyed the Children’s’ Dance Festival at Plumpton Friday 17th May. The children were enthusiastic, smiling and having fun. Good standard of dancing, great clear calling and sticking. Lovely to see one school side with their own music and music band. The kits were colourful and props brilliant. Please thank the children and teachers and musicians for a really enjoyable afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised. The future of Morris dancing and music is in good hands.”

Ann & John Bacon, & Dave Johns

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