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2018 marked the 8th East Sussex Festival of Dance for the Chailey ‘cluster’ of Primary Schools. Up to 2014 the festival had taken place annually but with organisational changes at primary level it was decided to hold subsequent festivals biennially under the directorship of Kerry Davey, Teacher in charge of KS3 PE and PSHE.
The Primary schools who applied to take part this year were Barcombe, Wivelsfield, Danehill, Newick, Ditchling, Fletching, Plumpton & Hamsey.

The aim of the Festival remained the same: the introduction of Primary Schools to four main English regional styles of traditional dance, (the Cotswolds, North West, Welsh Borders and East Anglia); to social, maypole and Tudor dance; together with associated regional customs and traditions, in a non-competitive environment.
The format of the whole day festival was unchanged, the venue being the large marquee at Plumpton Racecourse. The children were delivered and collected as on a normal school day.

Prior to the event, each school chose a dance style to learn and perform at the festival, which was taught by external tutors if required, at school during the weeks leading up to the festival.

The morning of the festival was divided into three sessions covering dance performance practices, a special craft workshop and storytelling led by Year 9 students from Chailey School. The students take part in the event for experience in preparation for their Sports Leadership Qualification, in which they have to provide opportunities for children. They all study art at school but also attended a craft training session offered as part of the festival to enable them to help the younger children effectively.

As in previous years a theme was chosen for the children to research ahead of the morning craft workshop so that their resulting artwork could be displayed as part of the afternoon dance performance to parents, carers and festival sponsors.

Inspiration for the 2018 theme came from the Derbyshire custom of 'Well Dressing' : a topic highlighting our dependence throughout the ages on water to sustain life.

The Year 9 students worked with small groups of children to portray subjects special to their communities in their artwork.

The festival director, Kerry Davey opened the afternoon performance with a warm welcome to all the visitors and heartfelt thanks to everyone who had helped to make the festival happen.
Kerry then introduced each school in turn as a colourful procession of children proudly passed by the audience to show their work before handing them to a Year 9 student to place round a replica spring, specially made for the occasion.

The dance performance began with a spirited maypole dance and continued with lively dances from the regions
Danehill's collage Ditchling
                      YC. Cotswold dance
Danehill. Social dance
Brcombe. Tudor
Fletching. Border dance
The performance came to a rousing close with the now-traditional massed ‘Shepherds Hey’ for everyone.

We are indebted to the schools and organisations who contributed financially, and those individuals who gave their time and expertise to enable this festival to continue ...
To Plumpton Racecourse staff for their goodwill & support of the festival;
TRADS for dance tuition in schools and for tutoring the Year 9 students in ‘Well Dressing’ ;
To a band of volunteer dance tutors from local Morris sides.
To the Year 9 students for also helping to set out and decorate the marquee for the morning and afternoon sessions in addition to working with the children.

As in recent festivals it was especially rewarding to meet up with some Year 9 students who had taken part in the festival when they were at Primary School and hear their memories!
Funding and support for the festival came from contributions from each school.
TRADS taught Well Dressing and dance at Chailey, Wivelsfield, Hamsey (who did not attended due to unforeseen circumstances), Danehill & Barcombe schools.
The Morris Federation provided financial help with venue hire, training and general expenses.
The Morris Ring for tuition and music at Plumpton School.

Funding contributions also came from Cuckoo’s Nest Ladies Morris, Ashdown Forest Morris Men and Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men.

Ditchling Morris and StepBack provided management support.

With special thanks to the George Pheby Bequest for continued support for dance tuition and music.

Ann and John Bacon
DitchlingMorris and StepBack
June 2018

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