Sparkers keep the Olympic Torch Alight!

Dydh da! Good Day!

It's nearly here, folks ... the Olympic Torch is passing through Liskeard on Saturday 19th May, and the Vital Sparkers have lined up some Cornish dancing including a simple, colourful Olympic Torch Serpent-March for the afternoon in Westbourne Gardens.

All the Cornish dances are really easy to pick up - just follow the rest of the dancers.  Wear flame colours - black, red, orange, gold & be a part of the grand spectacle.

There'll be a few 'snakey, serpent' dances, where you join the line & follow the leader as they spiral around the dance space, a few circle dances, including the 'Mr Martin's Reel' challenge dance between the dancers & musicians, along with a furry-circle & some partner dances.


The History

Back in the days of the Cornish Tea Treats (and still now in some parts of the Duchy), the local band would lead a procession of dancers across the fields to the local farm, or down through the town to the hall.  

The leaders would take the dancers into a huge spiral, and once they reached the centre, would turn & go under the arches of the dancers that were following them, with all the dancers following in turn as they became the leaders.  Sometimes, the following dancers would simply part to let the procession travel back through the line, joining back into the procession as they became the lead couple. 

And many a new romance or friendship was said to have sparked on such an occasion... 

You might find that the Helston Furry Dance does this, as the dancers cram into Coinage Hall at the end of the main dance with the lead dancers spiraling back out under the arches of the following dancers, taking everyone else with them.

Nancy, one of our Sparking Saturdays Cornish Dance Workshop participants tells us that her father-in-law remembers his father referring to it as a 'snake dance'.  This would have been a group from Newquay who went over the gannel to the fields at Penpol Farm with St Dennis Band leading them.  We're hoping to be able to get some pictures from Nancy sometime once her father-in-law can dig them out of the attic.

We tried out the dance for the first time at one of the Sparking Saturdays Cornish Dance Workshops, before a great Cornish Dance Night / Nos Lowen with Dalla & the Liskeard Street Band, and thought it would be a great one for Liskeard's Olympic Torch Day:

How does the Olympic Torch Serpent-March work?

Easy ... find yourself a partner, or bring one with you, and join the procession with the leftie/gent on the left, the rightie/lady on the right...

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

The step is a bouncy march - let the music get you into the rhythm, and follow the couple in front of you ...

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

... when the top couple turn, make an arch to let them under ...

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

... and once you're at the front, turn & go under the arches ... (see the top couple in the top left of the pic below, checking back as they've come out at the end of the procession, and everyone's followed under!)

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

Just keep going, either making the arch while you're waiting to go under ...

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

... or ducking under the arch ...

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

If your partner is a small person, you might need to let go hands, so that the leading dancers can pass by ... just keep moving forwards.

The Sparking Saturdays Cornish Dance Workshop folk were well impressed, as the dance had never been tried before this century in Liskeard!

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

The lead couple ducks under, and the new leads get ready to turn ...

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

... and under they go .... 

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

... and the next ones get ready to turn & go under.

The leftie/gent turns the rightie/lady under, so that they end up on the left again (this can be quite a fancy flourish, or a simple swap sides) ...

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

... and away they go ...

Picture by Ian Bruce / Clare Taylor

These pics were taken by Clare Taylor at the nos lowen with Cornish band, Dalla at the Liskerrett Centre in Liskeard, Cornwall in February 2011.

What should I wear for the Cornish dancing on Olympic Torch Day in Liskeard?

  • If you can, wear flame colours - blackredorangegold - and let's see if we can turn that Olympic Torch Serpent-March inside out like a huge flame!

Do I need special shoes?

  • Nope - whatever is comfortable, works for the weather & dancing outside on the grass ... trainers, shoes, pumps or boots.  Steel toe caps & stilettos are probably best left at home!

Can I try the Olympic Torch Serpent-March out before Olympic Torch Day in Liskeard?

  • We'll run through the Olympic Torch Serpent-March, along with some of the other dances for the afternoon in Westbourne Gardens, with all dances taught for beginners & refreshers.
And on the afternoon of Olympic Torch Day in Westbourne Gardens, Liskeard ...

Lois from the Vital Spark Project & Martyn will lead the dancing, bringing the Olympic Torch Serpent-March together, with Jenny & Carlton & the Liskeard Street Band providing the music.

Meet at Westbourne Gardens at 1:15, ready to dance at 1:35 for 1/2 an hour, and again at 2:20.  The Olympic Torch Serpent-March will be danced twice ...


So all you incredible people in Liskeard & the surrounding area - you marvelous mums & dads, teenagers,
athletic footballers, runners, cricketers, swimmers,
lovely Zumba dancers, gorgeous dance school girls & boys, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts,Rotarians,
farmers, fishers, mechanics, knitters, restaurateurs, cooks, town councillors, shoppers, shop keepers & @LoveLiskeard supporters, the challenge is on for you to make this the BIGGEST, MOST
COLOURFUL Olympic Torch Serpent-March
 ever in Liskeard!

Go on ... make this a big one for Liskeard!

HUGE THANKS to Liskeard Town Councillor,
Trina Dawe & colleagues, for helping to make this happen!!!