This course is currently sold out. We do sometimes get cancellations – if you would like to be added to the waiting list, please contact us.
Discover French dance or develop your dance horizons! Both experienced and novice French dancers are invited to a week of expert tuition led by Peter Clifton, and supported by Karen Prager. Yannick Minvielle-Debat joins the teaching team to introduce traditional singing-for-dancing. The course will be taught to exemplary live music from Richard Heacock (violin) and Paul Hutchinson (accordion), with guest musicians Steve Tyler (hurdy gurdy) and Katy Marchant (pipes) joining us for the Thursday night finale Bal.
“A fantastic week. Incredible teachers, we were really lucky. I cannot wait for next year.” Participant
Dancers will be introduced to French couple dances: Scottish, Bourrée, Waltz and Mazurka, and to Breton circle and chain dances. (You don’t need to bring a partner for the couple dances). Lesser-known dances will also be taught, including some from the Vendée and Poitou regions. The focus will be on dance variation and developing communication and dynamics through both couple and circle dances.
Yannick will add some easy-to-learn French songs to the mix, which can be applied to well-known dances, and practised within the week at workshops and evening bals.
Dancers who also play are encouraged bring to bring instruments if they wish; there will be opportunities to play for some of the dances in the bal each evening.
“I feel a bit more French!” Participant
Who’s it For?
You’ll have some experience in traditional dance – Playford, English Country Dance, Contra, Scottish etc – but you can be completely new to French dance. For those with experience of French dance the course offers the opportunity to learn more and to discover lesser known dances too.
“Most enjoyable – I was made to feel very welcome, and my dancing has improved!” 2018 Participant
Peter Clifton is an expert tutor of French and Breton Dance, and teaches regularly at the French Dance Stroud monthly events. He has also run workshops at Pentreffest, European music and dance festival (Kinnersley), Shrewsbury folk festival and the Festival des Panards.
Yannick Minvielle-Debat ’s involvement in traditional French and Breton music ranges from singing for dancing in a band, The Wizards of Noz and in a duo with an accordionist, Steve Turner, organising an annual French music festival in Todmorden, teaching Breton call and response songs to running dance workshops for all abilities and ages. She also plays the hurdy-gurdy to the great despair of her husband! Born in France, Yannick now lives in Keighley, Yorkshire within earshot of the heritage railway line featured in the Railway Children. www.frenchdanceschools.org.uk
Richard Heacock (violin) began playing for folk dance with The Vale Islanders Playford group and Icknield Way Morris. He later joined English traditional group Boldwood, and produced their first CD “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now.” He discovered French and Breton dance music in 2004 and played in a duo with accordionist Becky Price at Kinnersley, Horsley and Ide. He currently plays in Breton trio The Andro Sisters, and with Paul Hutchinson. Richard is a frequent visitor to Halsway, and has taught and played on the Playing Playford, French Dance and Poldark Dance courses.
Paul Hutchinson (accordion) was half of the much-loved duo Belshazzar’s Feast (nominated for Best Duo at the BBC Folk Awards in 2010), and has most recently been touring with his new band, Coracle. Regarded as one of the top accordionists in the UK, Paul is the resident accordion tutor at Cecil Sharp House, and a regular tutor and musician at Halsway Manor. Paul is much in demand as a player for dancing which has resulted in appearances at festivals in the UK, Europe and the USA.
Steve Tyler (hurdy gurdy) is renowned for his rhythmic and inventive playing, and is equally at home with early music, traditional melodies or modern compositions. For many years a performer of medieval music, his main interest is in patterns, rhythms, the interweaving of different parts and sonic structures, and to this end works on dark multitrack music mixing hurdy gurdies with dulcimer, reed organ, cittern and diverse instruments, inspired by patterns in nature, mathematics and the imagination. He performs as a duo with Katy Marchant (bagpipes, recorder, shawm, voice) or with their band Woodwose, and is a member of trans-cultural collaboration Meridianum Ensemble.