Back to school for Photography 2
Last week we had to produce six photos, so I looked up local events. I found the Stroud Folk Festival was scheduled. We had actually been along the previous year and I knew it would be a good opportunity to take colourful, lively photographs.
A few things you need to know first.
- Clog dancing is great fun. Working people throughout the UK used to wear clogs to work. These were wooden soled leather shoes that enabled the wearer to walk though wet and dirty conditions without getting water logged shoes. Although associated with the Lancashire cotton mills, where I am from, they were equally popular in different industries and areas.
- Morris Dancing is a particular type of English country dancing, dating back to about 1450. There are many versions but what we watched included Cotswold style, Border Morris, and Welsh Morris dancing. And there is a Lancashire version too.
- There is a local tradition of “black face” Morris Dancing. This has proved controversial – see this comprehensive Wikipedia entry.
Contemporary clogging is fun to watch – not dissimilar from tap dancing – and if you get the chance do participate do give it a go.
The Welsh version is somewhat different. Mererid, who is only 14 and also accompanied the Welsh dancers on the fiddle, was very impressive and accomplished.
The Musicians were very talented and energetic – supported in this case by a man in sheep’s clothing. As you know the Cotswolds is wool country, and this group were the local Stroud team, supporting the ladies in their red, white and green outfits.
Perhaps the most interesting group for me were the Welsh dancers. Their beautifully made outfits in Welsh flannel were handmade to fit and I loved all the details down to the brooches they wore to close their scarves.
The modern blackface dancers have adapted to worries that this old tradition may be misunderstood. Nowadays they have introduced more colour and more modern approaches.
Nick and I practiced at home first, trying to understand how to set the camera to capture the movement of the dance and get good, in-focus shots of the group. Here I am prancing around with some tray cloths. Although I look quite serious we laughed our socks off. And then we were ready to drive to Stroud, find a good parking place, and get cracking. Unfortunately it rained all day. We managed to find a great shop that made Falafel sandwiches with five balls in them.
Stroud is a nice Cotswold town even when there is no folk festival to enjoy. They have a Farmers’ Market every Saturday and some nice antique and charity shops. Towards the end a dear dog, wet from the down pours, seemed to enjoy the spectacle.