Sheridan Humphreys, 25 January 2014

Session called by:

Sheridan Humphreys

Attended by: Bethany Wells, Toby Jones, Lorraine Keene, Leslie, Rebecca, Ophir,

Phelim, Lee, the lady from Medway, Dominic Campbell, Rebecca

Summary of discussion

What can the networks and communities of dancers learn from each other (and from


Strictly Come Dancing is the MOST POPULAR UK TV show, with the highest ratings

of any TV programme. This has led to more participation in social dance classes.

However, the choreographers are not credited for their work in creating the routines

that are danced by the couples. Imagine a writer or a director not getting credited for

their work in television, especially for a flagship national television programme.

This is not just a problem for dance, but a problem for the performing arts industry.

Styles of dances (as enjoyed by those in the group):

- French folk dancing (including Breton)

- Lindy Hop, charleston, dances of the Swing era

- Five Rhythms, intuition led movement meditation dance

We learned that the annual French Folk dancing festival held in France has closed

down, as the organisers can no longer afford to run it. It is a very small, very niche

scene and this is the only festival where the practitioners meet each other. We

discussed how a more organic, less bureaucratic camping event might evolve for like

minded people to meet regularly.

5 Rhythms movement was discussed as a route to theatre design, important for

acting, understanding a body in space, intuition and natural focus

Lindy hop has a thriving scene in the UK and internationally, but is on the periphery of

professionalism (meaning that there are many people earning a living through the art

form yet they don't see themselves as part of the performing arts/theatre world)

We discussed whether it was better for something like Lindy hop to stay ‘outside the

box’, does that keep it at a level of experimentation, keep it free?

There was a discussion about what ‘social dancing’ means - all dancing is social. Is

social dancing art? Is it a commmunity expression? Is it one or the other. In this

context perhaps it is ‘neither ballet nor contemporary dance’ (the forms most

commonly associated with the subsidised performing arts sector).

- you can move in a space that is social, staged, practical

- lived experience + creative practice - social dancing is perhaps where they meet

Social dancing in terms of the hierarchy of the artform - the hierarchy is not vertical, it

can be horizontal (hard to describe, better to draw a diagram to ilustrate this…hike the

horizon, people dip in and dip out of each level) - this can somehow explain why it is

that the choreographers are not credited, that a lower value is placed on social

dancing as opposed to ballet for example…

Dance is non-linguistic.

And the nature of the vernacular practice in something like Lindy hop, for example.

The form is evolving, but is this precisely because it isn't codified or regulated?

(remains outside the box?)

A few artists were mentioned (and Sheridan intends to follow up on these…)

Liz Luhrman and Dance Exchange: WHO gets to dance, WHERE and WHY, a

company of mixed ability, age and gender.

Lucy Neil, Founder of LIFT, her grandmother's work in folk dance and Cecil Sharp

House folk dance archive as well as music. - MENTIONED by TWO participants in the


Quarantine - a recent show about dancing

A show about Alzheimers that ended with a Tea Dance

A thriving dance school in a shabby village hall in Medway was described… and the

gap that happens when these kids fall out of love with their ambitions in dance.

Instead of channelling this passion into social dancing - something they can participate

in for the rest of their lives - where does it go?\

It was suggested that the further you get from the centre of a city, the better the

dancing gets!

Rebecca says there's a great night once a month at the Rivoli Ballroom.

We touched on gender in social dancing - the lead and follow thing, how there are

more women than men in classes, why men in England are perceived to be shy at

dancing, the energy thing is more important than the lead thing… (we touched on this,

there's much more to explore, for a different conversation…)

Toby thinks we need to make dancing sexier. He should come to Swing n Swim.

There was a twitter contribution to the session, and invitation to the:

Chinese Ceilidh @moremusicone @liveatlica hashtag frontierland\

There's a lindy hop class currently being organised for Parliament (for MPs and

Westminster staff).

Lots of good questions, hopefully one day I will find a way to bring my two worlds -

theatre and lindy hop - together.


dance, Dance, ballet, breton dancing, choreographer, strictly, dancers, tango,

contemporary dance, strictly come dancing, lindy hop, french folk dancing, ceilidh, five