Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts

Friday, June 23, 2017

Looking for traditional NL dancers and dance groups!

Hello, my name is Jane Rutherford and I have been doing Newfoundland and Labrador set dancing for 30 years. Now I'm a graduate student at Memorial University and doing research on traditional NL set or square dancing - like the Lancers or the Square Dance. I'm trying to find where in the province people are still doing this style of dancing - in any way, shape or form. If you would be interested in sharing your dance experiences with me, I would love to chat. But I'm also interested in simply learning where people are dancing. Through my research, I hope to find information and resources to help people continue to enjoy traditional Newfoundland dance.


Here's a video from Fogo Island of the type of dancing I'm interested in:

For more information, or to share information about traditional dancing in your community, please contact me!
709 237-1297


Jane Rutherford
Candidate, MA Ethnomusicology
Research Centre for Music, Media and Place
Memorial University of Newfoundland

photo: Decade Dancers, Grand Bank

Friday, April 22, 2016

Step Dance Project Event and Call for Dancers

A NL Step Dance Project Event and Call for Dancers

The NL Step Dance Project is proud to present two connected events on April 27th, 2016, a dance discussion and workshop for invited tradition bearers at The Crow’s Nest at 7PM, and a public session of dance and music held at Folk Night at The Ship at 9PM. In partnership with the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office, DanceNL, and the NL Folk Arts Society, the NL Step Dance Project is seeking to both highlight and come to a better understanding of this vital and less-practiced tradition of freeform, solo dancing in Newfoundland.

Who in your family pulls out the freestyle solo moves at kitchen parties, weddings, or community concerts? At the trad session on a Sunday afternoon? When the toe tapping music starts up, who’s light on their feet and stays close to the floor? Join us at The Crow’s Nest at 7PM April 27th for a meal, a step, and a story or two, all as part of a collaborative effort with dancers and communities to understand how this tradition is performed and passed on. We are not just looking for ‘professionals’ or trained dancers, but rather anyone who can feel the music in their feet – from those who just do a step or two from time to time, to those unstoppable older dancers still showing their steps with the help of a chair.

After the Crow’s Nest, we’ll all make our way down to The Ship Pub at 9PM for Folk Night. Open to the public, Folk Night on April 27th will be a traditional session with a twist, featuring Newfoundland music and lively step dance for only $5 at the door. All are welcome to get up and show a few steps as the music plays. With tunes from Allan Ricketts and other local musicians, this is an evening not to be missed! Presented as part of Dance Week 2016, in cooperation with DanceNL and the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society, this event will also feature a brief step dance lesson, for those members of the public who want to get a little closer to the floor themselves.

Anyone interested in sharing their “old­time” step moves and dance stories with the NL Step Dance Project on the 27th will receive an honorarium and travel expenses for their involvement. Get in touch with us for more information. We are looking for dancers from St. John’s and beyond, and would love to hear from people off the Avalon. If you can’t make the April event but want to share your steps and stories, we would love to hear from you anyway.

The NL Step Dance Project is lead by Kristin Harris Walsh (step dancer/researcher) in partnership with Dale Jarvis at the Intangible Cultural Heritage office. This project is funded by the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and is part of a larger project documenting and comparing the dance histories of three step dance forms from Ontario, Cape Breton, and Newfoundland.

For more information on the events or participating as a tradition-bearer:
Call: (709) 765­0468 (Jane Rutherford)

Visit or message:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Labrador Memories, Fools, and Stepping Out - The ICH Update

In this edition for the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador: our Living Heritage Podcast goes national on CBC radio with a spotlight on the Labrador memories of Dave Paddon; an article by Dale Jarvis on the link between tangible and intangible cultural heritage; notes from the Mummers Festival's Sharna Brzycki on the tradition of Christmas Fools; and an overview of a new research project looking at step dance traditions in the province.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Invite to Heritage Day in Hodge’s Cove, Trinity Bay, Saturday June 27th

Guest blog post by Wanda Garrett, Southwest Arm Historical Society

Come and step back into time at the first annual Heritage Day of Southwest Arm Historical Society on Saturday, June 27th at the Lions Club in Hodge’s Cove, Trinity Bay. Doors open at 2:00 p.m. and the admission is free!

Museum for the Day
From 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., view the museum items that are on display for the afternoon. There could be everything from school yearbooks to vintage cast sad irons to a model or mould used to construct a punt. View and touch some of the many items that your ancestors used every day. You may be aware of most of the items but there could be some that you haven’t seen before or even know their purpose.

You might see items such as these two Maritime Archaic tools that were found at Heart’s Ease – a slate knife blade and a stone celt (axe). These items are approximately 4000 years old.

or you might see pottery inkwells that were found when the pond was drained at Heart’s Ease Beach in 1990….

or maybe a complete kit for loading bullets…

or items your grandmother or great-grandmother used around the house such as this sad iron or chopper…

The possibilities are endless so don’t miss out!

Share your ‘Old’ Photos
The Southwest Arm Historical Society will also take this opportunity to collect photos for their website. There will be a couple of computers and scanners set up at the Lions Club in the afternoon to scan your photos while you view the items in the ‘museum for the day.’ Be sure to bring along your photos of people and places of Southwest Arm and we will scan and return them to you before you are ready to leave.

Home-made Soup for Supper
What event in Newfoundland and Labrador would be complete without a little food? Join us for some homemade soup and sandwiches between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. – cost just $5.00 each.

‘Old-time’ Square Dance
And a little entertainment to round out the day! We will finish off our Heritage Day with an ‘old-time’ square dance. Don’t know how to square-dance! No problem; a number of square-dance pros will demonstrate how it is done and then offer you an opportunity to give it a try. Sound like fun? The square dance will start at 7:00 p.m. with local live music (accordion and guitar) – must be 19 years and older – cost only $5.00 each.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Help find the missing words to "Here we go down, Sir Johnny Brown"

I recently wrote an article for The Telegram on singing games we used to play, about three traditional games: "Little Sally Saucer," "King William was King George's Son," and "Ring Around the Rosie." You can read more on "Little Sally" on author Leslie Lindsay's blog.

This morning, I received a response from Rosemary Thorne. Thorne now lives in St. John's, but was born in the early 1960s in Thornlea, Trinity Bay. She remembers playing Little Sally Saucer and Ring Around the Rosie.

Another song game she remembered was "Here we go down, Sir Johnny Brown," but she could not remember all the lyrics to the first verse of the song. Here is what Thorne remembers:

Here we go down, Sir Johnny Brown
This is the way to London town
.... here
.... by
Don't you hear your true love cry

On the carpet (carver?) here she stands
Take your true love by the hand
[Take] the one that you love best
Pick her out from all the rest

What a heck of a choice you made
You better be home and in your bed
Since you can no longer stay
Give her a kiss and send her away.

A quick internet search reveals little on "Sir Johnny Brown," but does turn up this fabulous query to the "Correct Manners" section on Page 13 of the Ottawa Citizen, for Monday, 1 February 1926:

Is the letter in question addressed to a real child named John Brown, or would Sir Johnny Brown be a name known to a child, presumably through some version of the rhyme related by Thorne? Does anyone have a memory of this rhyme or song? Any thoughts on the missing words? And who exactly is Sir Johnny Brown, Esq? 

Email me at if you have a lead! And I'll have none of your "monkey-shining," please.

update 9 Feb 2015:

I found this counting-out rhyme, from Indiana, printed in 1888 in "The Counting-Out Rhymes of Children: Their Antiquity, Origin, and Wide Distribution - a study in Folk Lore" by Henry Carrington Bolton (noted American chemist, bibliographer of science, lecturer, folklorist, photographer, and one of the founders of the American Folklore Society):

Oh! Johnny Brown
He went to town
Three score miles and ten;
He went at night
By candle light
And never got home again.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Scoff ‘n’ Scuff Dinner, Dance & Silent Auction

In support of the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society
Friday April 11th, Benevolent Irish Society 30 Harvey Road
7pm – Tickets $25 at O’Brien’s Music

The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society invites you to a dinner, dance & silent auction. Traditional dance caller, Ford Elms, will lead the way, with musicians Rick West, Danny Mills, Tony O’Brien, Allan Ricketts & Fergus Brown-O’Byrne providing the tunes. Enjoy hot beef stew and rolls, and bid on some fabulous silent auction items. Spring may not be here yet, but you can put some spring in your step to coax it along!


Now in its 37th year, the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival takes place in St. John’s on the weekend following the Royal St. John’s Regatta. It is the second oldest continuously running folk festival in Canada. Each year, the NL Folk Festival brings thousands of people together to celebrate the best in traditional and contemporary folk music and dance. The Folk Arts Society promotes folk arts in Newfoundland & Labrador and throughout Canada.


The Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society (NLFAS) is a charitable organization located in St. John’s, NL whose mandate is the promotion of the traditional folk arts of the province. Active Since 1966, the organization works towards its goals by presenting educational and cultural events that provide artists with the opportunity to showcase their work and that engage our youth and the general public in the transmission of our intangible cultural heritage. The NLFAS produces the weekly Folk Night at the Ship Pub and several annual events including Young Folk At The Hall, the Holiday Wassail and the popular Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival. The 2010 Folk Festival received the City of St. John’s Event of the Year Tourism Award, and was voted Best Volunteer Opportunity by readers of the Scope.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dance to Your Heart’s Content - Dance Workshop March 22nd

A Workshop with the Mizzen Heritage Dancers

Memorial University’s Folklore Department is thrilled to present a public dance workshop with The Mizzen Heritage Dancers from Heart’s Content on March 22 from 1-3:30pm at the MMaP gallery in the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre. This workshop is open to dancers of all ages and all skill levels. A panel discussion with the dancers will take place immediately following the workshop.

The Mizzen Heritage Dancers are a group of 12-14 residents of Heart’s Content who have enjoyed performing their regional square dancing tradition for the past 15 years. This group has offered dance workshops at schools and community centres across the Avalon in hopes of recruiting dancers who may like to share in their tradition. The Mizzen Heritage Dancers are proud to announce such a workshop will be held on March 22 for the people of St. John’s. Put on your dancing shoes and join them at the Arts & Culture Centre’s MMaP Gallery for an exciting foray into the tradition of Newfoundland square dancing.

Admission is $10 or $8 for students & seniors. Refreshments will be served courtesy of Starbucks and Sobeys. Free parking will be available.

Dr. Jillian Gould, provincial folklorist Dale Jarvis, and folklore/ethnomusicology graduate students of Memorial University have organized this workshop as part of a practical exercise in public programming and cultural presentation.

Space is limited! To register, please contact

or call 1-888-739-1892.

For all publicity inquiries:
Michelle Robertson – Memorial University, M.A.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Youth Hoop Dance Workshop - March 15th

The St. John’s Native Friendship Centre and the Intangible Cultural Heritage office of Heritage Foundation of NL are co-sponsoring a Hoop Dance Workshop, with Beany John.

Crystal (Beany) John is Taino and Cree from Kehewin Alberta. At 22 years of age she is a champion Grass dancer and Hoop Dancer. She is one of two women in Canada given permission to be part of the Grass Dance Society and was initiated in 1998. Beany has been teaching Hoop Dance to youth in Alberta and Ontario since 2004. She has taught at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Anishnabe Health Youth program, Trent University, Toronto Native Canadian Centre youth program and the Kehewin First Nation.

Her mix of Hoop Dance and Hip Hop has been called “dynamic” and “exciting”. Her contemporary style, mixing traditional forms with circus skills and hip hop, is one of a kind and she has a following of young Native people throughout Canada and the United States.

Location: 3rd Floor Dance Rehearsal Space, St. John's Arts and Culture Centre

Date: Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Time: 10am to 1pm

Cost: $25

What to Bring: Participants are invited to wear comfortable clothing, nothing too loose so that it doesn't get caught up in the hoops. The room has a professional dance floor, so no outside footwear is permitted. Workshop is for participants age 8+

Registration is extremely limited, so participants MUST pay in advance either by cheque made payable to “Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador” or by email money transfer.

Registration mandatory. To register, contact Dale Jarvis at or call 739-1892 ext 2.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tradition in Motion: A day with the Mizzen Heritage Square Dancers

Our intangible cultural heritage office sometimes uses what we term a “project-based training” model. You can read all about that in this occasional paper.  Yesterday, we took that model on the road, with a group of Memorial University students, to Heart's Content.

Dr. Jillian Gould is an Assistant Professor within Memorial University’s Department of Folklore, whose research interests include public folklore, ethnography, and fieldwork. Since 2011, her class has been partnering with HFNL to deliver a type of project-based training as a component of the graduate public sector folklore course. Typically, graduate students organize some kind of public folklore event or workshop, a model which engages the public while teaching the students practical and varied skills in facilitation, group work, community outreach, and project planning. 

This semester, students are working on organizing a workshop on traditional Newfoundland set dancing, in cooperation with the Mizzen Heritage Square Dancers. Thos dancers will be coming into St. John's to run a workshop later in March, but I suggested that the students go out to Heart's Content, meet the dancers in advance, learn the dances, and be better able to facilitate the workshop when it happens.

So yesterday, two carloads of us drove out to Trinity Bay, and met up with the dancers of Heart's Content at the Society of United Fishermen Hall. The dancers demonstrated two dances, the old fashioned square dance, and the Lancers, and students were able to run through the square dance twice. Then everyone took part in the Virginia Reel, and finished up with a lunch prepared by the community. Students, where possible, did on-the-spot folklore interviews with many of the participants.

Some of the students had never been to Heart's Content, and the set dances were new to most of them. It was a great experience, and everyone was moved by the kindness and generosity of the folks from Heart's Content. At the end, the dancers made sure everyone left with a Heart's Content pin. It was tremendous fun, and a great way for students to see folklore in action, rather than just reading about it. 

Stay tuned for more information on the in-town workshop itself. 

Photos by Cyndi Egan.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Newfoundland Set Dancing and Percussive Dance Workshops

From Wednesday July 13th through to Tuesday July 19th there will be DAILY opportunities to participate in an exciting variety of dance workshops at the Sound Shift Festival

Workshops are listed at:
Ticket prices at:

(Purchase at door, cash only)
$10.00 / Regular, per workshop
$8.00 / Students/Seniors, per workshop
$20.00 / Regular, 3-workshop pass
$15 / Students/Seniors, 3-workshop pass

Thursday July 14 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the MMAP Gallery at the Arts and Culture Centre, Jane Rutherford will be leading a workshop in Newfoundland Set Dancing, accompanied by Christina Smith

Tuesday July 19th from 1:30 pm - 3:0 pm, also at the MMAP Gallery at the Arts and Culture Centre,
Kristin Harris Walsh will be leading a workshop in Percussive Dance , accompanied by Stan Pickett

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ceilidh Dance on Friday, November 26th - Cancelled

The St. Andrews Society of Newfoundland and Labrador is sponsoring an evening of ceilidh dancing and entertainment, with Corryvreckan providing live music for the dancing at the Bally Haly Curling Club on Friday November 26. Time is 7:30 pm for 8:00 pm Cost will be $10/person at the door.

Please pass this along to anyone you think might be interested.

Please confirm your attendance by email or phone 579-6114, so organizers can be sure to lay on sufficient snacks to keep up your energy!

NOTE:  The Ceilidh for Friday Nov 26 has been cancelled. Bally Haly has not completed renovations to the Room so have cancelled any functions until further notice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

North River dancers take over the Ship Pub in St. John's!

In 1992, Sheila Power of North River organized a St. Patrick’s Day family concert, with the hope it would become a yearly occurrence for All Hallow’s Parish. Thinking that the traditional Lancers would add to the concert, she went searching for local dancers who would show off their talents.

The dancing was a great hit, and the group continued performing the Lancers for local concerts. Since 2009, the group has been meeting regularly and working on dances, under the guidance and direction of Power, with live music provided by accordionist Web Dawe. In the summer of 2010, the Baccalieu Trotters were one of the groups that took part in a traditional Newfoundland folkdance symposium in Old Perlican, as part of the Cupids 400 celebrations.

“We do this for fun but it is a great way to keep in shape,” says Power. “It also keeps the Newfoundland music and traditional dance alive.”

The Baccalieu Trotters will be the featured performers at the Folk Arts Society’s weekly Folk Night at The Ship Pub on Solomon’s Lane in St. John’s on Wednesday, October 13th. The event starts at 9:30pm, and is $5 at the door. Hosted by Dale Jarvis, and co-sponsored by Dance NL.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Traditional Turkish Whirling - Live ICH Podcast recording with Mira Hunter

Mira Hunter is a visual artist and second-generation sufi mevlevi whirling dervish, and this week she is in St. John's as part of the 20th anniversary of the Festival of New Dance.

Mira began her traditional training at the age of 16 with her father Raqib Burke and Sheikh Jelaladdin Loras, and is nudging the tradition into the 21st century. According to her website, "Mira continues to challenge the fundamental forms of whirling by incorporating innovative movements and concepts, gently coaxing the 13th century practice into a contemporary context."

This Thursday, September 23rd, folklorist Dale Jarvis will interview Mira about the tradition and art of whirling, just before a free community workshop. The live recording will then be podcast and archived online as part of ongoing work to document dance and dance traditions in the province.

The interview will take place at 12:30pm at Cochrane Street United Church, Thursday, Sept 23. All are welcome to come listen to the discussion.

Immediately following the interview, Mira will be giving a workshop on Turkish whirling. Please contact Neighbourhood Dance Works to register: 709-722-3663 or If you wish to participate in the workshop, please wear comfortable clothes, bring an assortment of extra socks and an open mind.


Mira Hunter - Whirling

Festival of New Dance

Saturday, May 9, 2009

ICH Update for May 2009

Put on your dancing shoes! This month's edition of Newfoundland and Labrador's ICH Update sees us take to the dance floor, with an edition all about the intangible cultural heritage of dance in its various traditions. Waltz on over and learn more about:

- The Dance Heritage Think Tank Report
- Scottish and English Country Dance in Newfoundland
- Changing traditions of Bellydance
- Reviving the Lancers in Portugal Cove-St. Phillips, and
- Memories of the Fisherman's Reel of Bryant's Cove

Once your feet get tired, you can rest, download and read the newsletter from:

The ICH Update is published once a month by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, as part of its work to promote, safeguard and foster an understanding of the rich cultural heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy International Dance Day!

photo by Heather Patey

Attached is the report from the Dance Heritage Think Tank, held in St. John's in February 2009. The Think Tank committee (Kristin Harris Walsh, Dale Jarvis, Calla Lachance and Colleen Quigley) is providing this report to interested parties in dance, education, government and media for their information and action.

Please forward this report to anyone else you might be interested, and we look forward to the implementation of the recommendations generated from the Think Tank.

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact Dale Jarvis or Kristin Harris Walsh

Download the Dance Heritage Think Tank report at: