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Friday MAY 20th 2016
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Hundreds of smiling face-painted children replaced racehorses at the Plumpton Race Course on Friday 20 May 2016, as the 7th Primary Schools Traditional Dance Festival got under way.
Eight of the nine primary schools in the Chailey Cluster took part, involving over 200 children from Years 3, 4, 5, & 6.

The 2016 Festival was organised and directed by the Primary School Sports Co-ordinator, Kerry Davey of Chailey School, assisted by a very able team of senior students (the Crew) who helped with a morning workshop and general setting up and clearing away throughout the day. The majority of children from the Chailey Cluster go on to Chailey School for their secondary education. A very special ‘spin-off’ from the Festival has been the development of ‘an element of continuity’ between the senior and primary schools in that a number of the Crew have fond memories of taking part in the early festivals at their primary schools and are now in a position to pass on their skills to the younger children.

Planning for the Festival began in September 2015 using the successful format of previous years. This year the morning activities on customs offered storytelling with Jamie Crawford who led workshops on Mumming when each group acted a short play, and ‘Face painting’ by the Crew where the children also learned why many Morris teams colour their faces – the answer being for disguise rather than any other reason. The Crew were instructed on Face Painting techniques by Gail Duff of TRADS

The day was divided up into two halves, the morning programme consisted of dance practice, rehearsals, face painting and storytelling workshops while the afternoon was devoted to a regional traditional dance show for an audience of parents, guardians, event sponsors and special guest, Lewes M.P. Maria Caulfield.

TRADS, members of local dance teams, The Morris Ring and The Morris Federation all provided dance tuition for the children, before and during the Festival. Live music (and the ability to count) is the most effective tool for the children to learn the dances – rhythm and counting being essential to good performance, and enables the tutors to vary the tempo of tunes when necessary. This played a large and important part in facilitating a happy, relaxed learning environment.

After lunch, the Crew swiftly tidied and reorganised the Marquee for the afternoon performance.

Kerry Davey, Director, opened the Festival by welcoming the visitors and thanking supporters, sponsors and helpers before the children started their show, a lively and colourful ‘whistle-stop’ tour of English traditional dance.


Kerry Davey, Director, opened the Festival by welcoming the v
isitors and thanking supporters, sponsors and helpers before the children started their show ...
a lively and colourful ‘whistle-stop’ tour of English traditional dance.

This included all types of Morris, Maypole,
Social and Tudor dances.

Danehill Social

Hamsley Boarder
                      North West
During a short interval the Plumpton Parent Teacher Friends Association served much appreciated and superb refreshments.

The afternoon concluded with the now traditional roof-raising mass dance, ‘Shepherd’s Hey’ by all 200 children and joined by many of the parents guests and sponsors.

After seven festivals, many of the schools now have an ‘in house’ resource of knowledge to ‘go it alone’ ; fulfilling the long-term aim of the first festival in 2009 which was planned and organised jointly by SEFAN (South East Folk Arts Network) and Plumpton Primary School.
SEFAN closed in 2015 and The StepBack Consortium took on a lesser mantle this year, responsibilities being mainly organising the funding, external tutors and offering support if required – plus a little tuition.

As always, our grateful thanks to the schools who helped fund the Festival, our sponsors, the George Pheby Bequest, SEFAN, The StepBack Consortium, The Morris Federation, The Morris Ring, local Morris teams Chanctonbury Ring and Ashdown Morris Men for their support, without which the Festival could not happen.


Ann and John Bacon

Ditchling Morris and StepBack

June 2016

With special thanks to the George Pheby Bequest for their continued support

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