Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2019

The 47th Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, Ireland. Saturday 6th July to Sunday 14th July, 2019.

Sráid na Cathrach, Co. an Chláir  6ú Iúil - 14ú Iúil.

This year's Summer School will be opened on Saturday 6th July at 8 pm by Brendan Mulkere, musician and tutor in Irish Traditional Music Performance at the University of Limerick.

Tribute to Tony MacMahon

This year Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy pays tribute to master accordion player, Tony MacMahon. As well as being a superb musician, especially in the playing of slow airs, he was a highly influential radio and TV producer in RTÉ, producing such seminal programmes as The Long Note, The Pure Drop and Come West Along The Road. His earliest and strongest influence was from the playing of accordionist Joe Cooley and he has been also influenced by the music of Bobby Casey, Séamus Ennis and Willie Clancy. Among his recordings are two albums with Noel Hill, I gCnoc na Graí and Aislingí Ceoil and a more recent live recording with Steve Cooney, Scaoil Amach An Pocaide. The tribute will be presented by acclaimed fiddle player Liam O'Connor on Tuesday 9th July at 3pm in the Community Centre.

Special dance workshops for 2019

This year's special dance workshop is Appalachian Clogging – Step Dancing from the Southern Appalachian Mountains, with Rosie Davis. There will be three workshops on 10th, 11th & 12th July, from 2.30pm to 4.30pm, at the Mill Marquee beside the GAA grounds. These workshops are unique to this year's Summer School and they are free to registered students and €10 per day to non-registered participants. This is a special dance workshop exclusive to the 2019 Summer School.

Appalachian Clogging and the Mountain Square Dance

 

Appalachia is a region of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and is described historically as Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina and is recognised as a distinct cultural region with unique customs and culture.  In the mid 18th century the Scots and Irish made up the single largest group amongst the early settlers in the region. At this time the rural, percussive dance tradition developed – Buck Dancing, Flatfoot and Clogging - having its roots in earlier dance traditions of Northern Europe, West Africa and Native America.  This kind of dancing is still very popular today and is traditionally performed solo in hard soled shoes, danced to Old Time and Bluegrass tunes.  As with Irish sean nós, the dancing can be improvisational but is firmly rooted in earlier dance traditions.  The Old Time American fiddle repertoire includes some Scottish, English and Irish reels together with American breakdowns, blues and rags played on stringed instruments centred around the fiddle and five string banjo. The Mountain Square dance, developed in the mid 19th century, is still danced today.

The dance starts as one big circle and breaks into many two couple squares. Set dancers would recognise this as  half sets and they can return to the big circle at the end. There are `Big Circle` figures and square figures, the dance is progressive and is sometimes called the 'Visiting Square' as the couples meet and dance then move to find another couple. A 'Caller' decides the content and sequence of the dance as it is NOT set; the dancers are in the hands of the caller and can use clogging/flatfoot step throughout the whole dance as and when they wish.

Rosie Davis was born in Woolton near Liverpool and became interested in folk music and dance in her teens. She developed an interest in Old Time Music and Bluegrass, playing and singing at home with her two older brothers. She learned to dance Appalachian Clogging and Flat Foot from American musicians and dancers who were visiting the UK, and from an old video of the Bannerman family, and a record by Beverly Cotton.  In 2013 she came to live in Ireland and has danced at the Willie Clancy Summer School Dance recital each year since then. In 2015 she won first place in the Flat Foot Dance competition (over 60s!) at the prestigious Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Cliff Top, West Virginia, USA.

 

She  has been instrumental in pioneering the development of freestyle Appalachian Step-dancing in the UK from the early 1980s, performing and giving workshops at many high profile festivals there and in Europe. Her love and understanding of traditional music underpins the way she teaches and dances.

 

Rosie has been a member of several celebrated Bluegrass bands and since coming to live in Ireland is a regular at the Saturday Old Time session in the Cobblestone in Smithfield, Dublin, playing double bass and dancing. She is also a keen set dancer with Brooks Academy at Na Píobairí Uilleann in Henrietta Street, Dublin.

 

You can view archive footage of Appalachian dancing here and you can see Rosie in action here.

Rosie Davis

 

© Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy 2019   Website: Tony Kearns  www.tonykearns.net