The Halsway Playford Weekend is always a stimulating and enjoyable experience, and we are DELIGHTED to welcome dancing master Andrew Swaine and the wonderful band Purcell’s Polyphonic Party to lead the 2022 event.
A vigorous and fun weekend of dancing, the course is aimed at dancers – both experienced and new to Playford are welcome – who want to explore the music and dances published in the English Dancing Master.
An extremely brief history of Playford, in Andrew’s words: “John Playford was a publisher in the mid-17th century who published a lot of “country dances” which were being danced in the English Inns of Court at the time. It’s commonly believed that that they were initially dances for light relief based on what the common folk were doing, but dancing masters got involved and many of the dances are quite elaborate! They evolved considerably when Charles II came back from exile and country dancing became very popular throughout the nation and much of Western Europe, declining in the early 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century Cecil Sharp, reviving interest in all things traditionally English, reinterpreted and and taught these dances.”
Andrew likes to promotes a relatively lively and accessible style of Playford dancing, aiming to rediscover what made these dances fun in the first place. Expect a varied and joyful programme of workshops and social dancing, aimed at interpreting the dances for a modern audience with enthusiasm and enjoyment, whilst also setting the dances in historical context and referring back to the original sources.
There will be a Playford Assembly Ball on the Saturday evening – costume strongly encouraged!
Who’s it For?
The course is aimed at those with some experience of dance, although no specific experience of the Playford dances is necessary. Andrew is used to working across all levels, meaning he is well placed to include and encourage more novice dancers, whilst also providing enjoyable challenges for more experienced dancers.
Andrew Swaine has been dancing since he was small. He’s been calling and teaching workshops since he was a student in the 1990s and is keen to share his love of dance. He has a well researched Playford portfolio and is an experienced caller for most genres of English country dancing, including ceilidh, American contra, Playford (early country dancing, starting with the publications of John Playford 1651 onwards) and modern country dances at all levels written since the revival in the early 20th century. As well as leading “Playford in the Pub” dances in his home town of Sheffield. Outside of calling Andrew is an accordion player, for morris dancing with Boggart’s Breakfast in Sheffield and Gog Magog Molly in Cambridge and in a Balfolk duo with clarinetist Jo Veal.
Purcell’s Polyphonic Party are a trio of musicians (John Dipper, Vicki Swan, Jonny Dyer) who came together to combine their love of Purcell, Playford, Baroque and the Nordic Noir. With 99+ strings to their armoury of instruments you can be assured that an evening has plenty of variety. Although the band play for all kinds of dances, from ceilidh to contra, Playford is where their collective hearts lie, and where they are best known.
John Dipper • viola d’amore, concertina
John is a respected and established performer, composer, teacher and instrument maker, John grew up steeped in the traditions of Southern England. His unique playing style and compositions convey a deep understanding and passion for indigenous culture. John’s passion for vernacular music led to his degree dissertation focusing on the interpretation of field recordings, looking at intonation, tuning and expression.
Vicki Swan • nyckelharpa, bagpipes, flageolet
Vicki studied at the Royal College of Music on the double bass. She also plays the various types of bagpipes, flute, recorder, piano and nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed-fiddle). On leaving music college Vicki started down the long path of folk music and was only seen on rare glimpses back in classical orchestras. You’ll find Vicki now inhabiting the troll ridden forests playing her Swedish bagpipes, bagging tunes for new books. Vicki holds the Zorn Bronze Award for the traditional playing of Swedish bagpipes and runs workshops and teaches the nyckelharpa around the UK.
Jonny Dyer • harpsichord, accordion, gandola
Jonny is a multi-instrumentalist, performer, writer and arranger. Classically trained as a pianist and trumpet player, he now specialises in traditional music from the British Isles and Scandinavia; primarily on harpsichord, accordion, guitar and cowhorn. By default, Jonny is probably England’s leading exponent of the Swedish Kohorn (cowhorn) and was just as surprised as you probably are to find out that forests have the most wonderful echoey acoustic to play the cowhorn in. Go and try it, it’s awesome!