Step in to Hampshire

Accessible and adaptable for all Key Stages: watch this video of year 3 pupils from Newlands Primary School, Yateley.

Have fun helping to breathe new life into a lost local folk tradition! Step dancing used to be common all over Hampshire but it is very rarely seen nowadays. Starting with a folk tune and simple steps using heel and toe building blocks the session moves on to encourage individual creativity, always keeping the focus on the phrasing and character of the tune. It’s easy then to bring a short performance together to enjoy sharing the experience and to encourage others to get Hampshire stepping again.

Background

A hundred years ago step dancing or “stepping” was probably the most widespread of all British folk dance forms because it could happen anywhere and anyone could do it! On street corners, at family parties, pubs, fairs and festivals, all you needed were feet and tunes which could be whistled, sung or played.

By Victorian times step dancers were performing dances on Music Hall stages and as time went by tap dancing became popular. However, the informal stepping could still be found here and there in Hampshire until the middle of the last century when post-war social changes brought new forms of entertainment. We’re fortunate to be in contact with members of Gypsy, Romany and Traveller families who still step dance and who have encouraged us by sharing their stepping with us. It’s a great way of bringing people together and promoting cultural awareness.

In Hampshire we have plenty of traditional step dance tunes: we just need to step up!

Workshop Session

After a short performance, the workshop starts simply, tapping heels and toes in time to a tune played on fiddle or melodeon. Once the building blocks are established the focus is on responding to phrasing in the music, playing with different rhythms and then on improvising and creating simple step combinations. This can be done individually, in pairs or in small groups. A group performance can be developed using a few simple steps danced by everybody as a chorus with individuals coming forward to improvise or to show their own steps in between.

Longer sessions can include simple social dances collected in the New Forest 100 years ago, which use stepping.

We use a DVD showing clips of different steppers, and give a brief explanation of the local cultural context.

Workshop timing:  negotiable, minimum 1 hour sessions in a half or full day.

We provide: wooden boards to dance on, live music played on fiddle and melodeon, and we leave a recording and the sheet music of the tune used in the workshop.

You provide: up to 30 children, a large uncarpeted space, and a screen and equipment to show video clips.

Link with:  British Culture and Values, Local History and Geography topics, Music, Dance