Image for Still Folk Dancing... After All These YearsNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 1 hour

Young Northumbrian folk-singing siblings Rachel and Becky Unthank take a journey around England from spring to autumn 2010 to experience its living folk dance traditions in action. They lead us through the back gardens and narrow streets of towns and villages from Newcastle to Penzance to discover the most surprising of dances, ceremonies, rituals and festivities that mark the turning of the seasons and the passing of the year.

On their journey the Unthanks learn about the evolving history of the dances, whether connected to the land and the cycles of fertility or to working customs and practices in industrial towns. The girls talk to local historians and visit Cecil Sharp House to explore the dances' 20th century revival and codification through archivist Sharp and others, and we get to enjoy extraordinary film archive of the dances through the decades which show that although the people have changed, the dances have often remained remarkably constant.

Rachel and Becky grew up clog dancing in their native Northumberland and now get to observe and try other English dances, including travellers' step dancing in Suffolk, horn dancing with huge antlers in Staffordshire and stick dancing in Oxfordshire. This curious but vibrant world of local dances flies in the face of modernisation, and sometimes of ridicule, to keep the traditions and the steps alive.

Last on

Sun 27 Mar 2011 19:00 BBC Four

Credits

Presenter
Becky Unthank
Presenter
Rachel Unthank
Director
Ellen Hobson
Producer
Ellen Hobson

Broadcasts

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.