Folk Association of South Hants


The Primary Schools Ceilidhs

FASH are delighted to have been able to run a dance event for schools across our area each year. This event has been run in the past by Graham Taylor, and when we were asked to take the administration on and thus ensure that it happened each year, we were ready, willing and able. This coming year FolkActive are taking over the running of these ceilidhs, although FASH will still be involved in support and teaching the dances.

In 2013 we had 6 schools and 130 children dancing at Bishops Waltham. In 2014 9 schools came to Wickham Community Centre, bringing 180 children, and in 2015 we had so many children that we ran two ceilidhs at the Bishops Waltham Jubilee Hall. On the two days together over 300 children from 11 schools came - 84 of them from just one school. In 2016, we again had over 300 children dancing, representing 13 schools, plus, we had entertainment during the break - on one day we had a team of young Morris dancers from Swanmore School showing off their skills, and on the second we were entertained by a 'string ensemble', eleven violinists and two cello players from the Hampshire Youth Folk Ensemble (led by Joyce Ingledew of Bursledon Village Band) and the Swanmore College String Group. These young players also joined the band for several of the dances. Numbers of dancers would have been even higher had one school not had to pull out at the last minute.

The events are free and have live music with Tom Gregory of FolkActive calling. CDs of music specially recorded by Cath Watkins, Nic Bradford and Kim Sheil of Jigfoot, together with the dance notes of ten dances are provided. Typically four of the dances are aimed at Key Stage 1 age children and four at Key Stage 2, with two for everyone. Volunteers from FASH provide as much help as is needed to assist with teaching the dances in schools, so they are ready for the ceilidhs in June.

The schools involved have ranged from the New Forest to Cosham; if any school would like to be invited to next year's ceilidhs, then email Jo Harmer of FolkActive ( The dates for next year's (2020) ceilidhs are June 10th and June 24th.

We are pleased that these schools' ceilidhs are beginning to proliferate; there was one in Portsmouth in 2015, and a repeat event took place in October 2016, when a total of 28 schools took part, not all at once, but spread over three days. These ceilidhs have now become a regular event, and are a Portmouth Music Hub project; the string groups mentioned above come under the Hampshire Music Hub, and it is great that music and dance are being actively supported in this way. 2019 saw the first schools' ceilidh in Southampton; maybe even one in Winchester will follow. Contact Jo Harmer for more information on these events.

Below we show a few of the many pictures of the ceilidhs. We have tried to show the range of ages of the children who were joining in. These first few are from the 2016 ceilidh, and include the break-time 'spots'

The next 6 pictures are from the 2015 ceilidh. As you can see, several of the schools have active dance clubs which have their own team kit, quite different from their normal school clothes.

Below we show a few pictures from the 2014 ceilidh, including one of Graham the caller and several members of Jigfoot, who were providing our music for the day. Watching the groups of pupils dancing just for the fun of it, often without any help from the adults, made the whole event worthwhile. We also received a lovely letter sent to us from Curdridge Primary School. Thanks to Headteacher Sally Wood and her pupils Honor and Eve for this and several photos.

Curdridge Primary School at the FASH Ceilidh Festival!

On the 18th of June 12 pupils from Curdridge Primary Schools Ceilidh Club, went to a Ceilidh Festival in Wickham Community Centre. The children ranged from Year 2 to Year 6. The children were dancing all afternoon in a large hall with almost 200 children! On that afternoon we danced eight dances, including Circassian Circle and Holmfirth Square. Our favourite dance was Horse's Branle because we could improvise; some people did silent animal impressions, high kicks or cartwheels.
At school we have a Ceilidh club where we practise our Ceilidh dances. We have a great teacher called Dennis Wheeler; he is a Morris dancer but also does Ceilidh so he teaches us our dances. For a while we had an amazing violinist called Cath Watkins she helped us when Dennis was on holiday. Our Ceilidh club is always on a Wednesday after school from 3.30 to 4.30.
It is a really fantastic experience dancing to live music because it makes you feel like you are performing at a concert! We first met Cath when she came into school on the 1st May (May Day) when she came in to play the violin for the group of Morris dancers that danced at our school.
At the Festival there were over 200 dancers dancing and what was lovely was that everybody had different colour clothing. Our school had red clothing on, for the girls they had red flowery skirts, white polo shirts and black shoes. The boys had a red sashes tied round their waists and they also wore grey shorts and white polo shirt.
At the end everyone in the hall did a Circassian circle but it was a big squeeze because the hall was not quite big enough for 200 people. It was a fantastic experience enjoyed by all taking part!

By Honor Way and Eve Jeffery

Below are couple of pictures from the 2013 ceilidh.



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