Manx Folk Dance Society 60th Anniversary           International Festival of Folk Dance

For our 60th Anniversary we held an International Dance Festival on the Island, from 12th to 17th August 2011. We had invited all the dance groups with whom we have had exchange visits – Sunnerbogillet, Ljungby and Hembygdsgillet, Malmö – both from Sweden, Volkstanzgruppe Besse from Germany, Uttoxeter Heart of Oak Morris, Mersey Morris Men, Mockbeggar Ladies North West Morris Dancers and Wayfarers Folk Dance Group from England, as well as Dawnswyr Tipyn O Bopeth from Wales – we met in Visby in 2004 as well as at Yn Chruinnaght a few years ago and Old Mother Redcap’s Ladies Morris Team, who dance Manx Dances and also Garland Dances –  they had heard of our Festival and were willing to come and watch – but we invited them to join us!  and we involved local groups – Bock Yuan Fannee, Ny Fennee and Perree Bane.

Unfortunately Visby Folkdansgille from Gotland, Sweden, Gjesdalringen from near  Stavanger, Norway and the Chase Dancers from Staffordshire, could not make it.

We had a Sub-committee as well as the Management Committee, who were responsible for the planning – and there was a lot to sort out! – as well as the Fund-raising.

Most of the groups arrived during Friday 12th August to stay in King William’s College and in the evening there was a Parade and Opening by Sir Miles Walker at 7.30pm, which because of the inclement weather had to be moved from Castletown Square into Big School at King William’s College. This was followed by dance displays by each group.

On Saturday 13th August just about all the participants went on the Steam Train from Castletown to Douglas and then had some free time until a rehearsal later in the afternoon. In the evening at 7.30pm a fabulous Concert was held in the Villa Marina Royal Hall  – the audience was small, but the entertainment was colourful, varied and most enjoyable!

There was a religious service held on Sunday 14th August at King William’s College Chapel, with Manx Folk Dance Society Dancer Kevin Mort in charge. He lead a thoughtful, interdenominational Service based around music and dance – it was wonderful to hear the Lord’s Prayer spoken in many different languages at the same time – but all finishing together! Then after a lunch of homemade soup, bread, scones & homemade cake in Castletown Civic Centre organised by members, the good weather brought out the crowds to watch dance displays in Castle Rushen grounds, Castletown and at the Quarter Deck, Port Erin. With coach transport midway through the afternoon, everyone danced at both venues.

In the evening a very entertaining Manx Concert took place at King William’s College.

The good weather on Monday 15th August meant more outdoor dance displays, this time at the House of Manannan, Peel and at the Mooragh Park, Ramsey, with lunch provided in church halls before the swap over of groups. The morning performance in Peel had an extra dimension, as the coach carrying most of the dancers,, unfortunately broken down near Glen Maye! Luckily a mechanic and another coach were soon on their way, but a few members of the Manx Folk Dance Society started the entertainment off, on time at the House of Manannan, then 3 Mersey Morris Men plus 1 of their musicians arrived by car and performed a dance, 3 Welsh musicians plus 1 dancer arrived next for a “virtual” dance with music!, before the rest of the Mersey Morris Men, who then entertained the audience for about 30 – 40 minutes, until the Coach and a few cars that had gone to begin a shuttle service arrived! The weather was beautiful, the settings were fantastic, the performances were colourful and enjoyable and the large audiences appreciative – what more can you ask for!!!

In the evening there was a chance for the musicians to share their music and the dancers to share (separately) their dancers.

Workshops were held at King William’s College during the day on Tuesday 16th August or alternatively for those not wanting to take part in them, Minibus Tours to Cregneash or Tynwald Mills.

In the evening there was a a Farewell party with the hosts, the Manx Folk Dance Society, when 60th Anniversary presents were given and thanks expressed to all.

Most of the participants left on Wednesday 17th August, full of praise and thanks :-

to the College – especially for the excellent food!

for the organisation and hospitality

BUT most of all for the friendly welcome from their hosts.

They went home tired but very happy and wondering when we were holding the next one – they would be back tomorrow given the chance!!!!