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​​​​​​​Fun at IVFDF in Nottingham

Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival 2020

Photo courtesy of Olga McIntosh

Joana Stausberg, Youth Services Committee Convenor reflects on the fun she had attending the Intervarsity Folk Dance Festival weekend (IVFDF) with other RSCDS members between 6-8 March. This yearly folk dance and music festival in Nottingham attracts hundreds of people to dance different dance styles from Scottish country dance to Ballet and Contra dancing.

The recent Nottingham IVFDF was the first folk dance festival that Olga and I from Youth Services went to. IVFDF is a British festival that student folk societies have run annually since 1951. It is big - in some years attended by about 1000 dancers - and it offers various workshops on different forms of dancing and folk music as well as topics like 'how to call a dance'. In the evenings there are different dance socials which the dancers can join.

 The RSCDS has supported this festival by financing the band for the Scottish Country Dance on Saturday evening for years. This year we asked Nicola Scott from Birmingham Branch to do an 'introduction to SCD' workshop at the IVFDF, too, so beginners could confidently take part in the dance. The workshop was rightly called 'How to Survive a Scottish Country Dance', and four sets of dancers took the floor. We were a mix of total beginners, 'I danced a little years ago' dancers and experienced ones. One hour is a tight schedule, but incredibly so, Nicola managed to get us all through the basics and keeping those with experience on their toes with some extra tips as well. Edmund McIntosh from Exeter (member of four Branches: Youth, International, Exeter and Herefordshire - try beating that) could pick up on this for the evening social, where his excellent calling made for a successful dance. It was wonderful to see how complete beginners got hooked and stayed for the whole 3-hour dance. Chris Dewhurst and his Scottish Country Dance Band helped, of course, with their choice of tunes, lively groove and obvious good mood. There were usually six sets on the floor, which filled the room, and it was good to see all ages dancing, including some families with children.

 If I had to pick the one thing I found most remarkable about the whole weekend, I'd choose the very friendly atmosphere. Basically whoever you are or choose to be at IVFDF, you are welcomed and smiled at and danced with. This is great. Also, the mix of dance styles is what makes IVFDF special because you can try out forms of dances you have never heard of or seen before: I did Galician dancing in a workshop, which challenged me rhythm-wise but was great fun, and the music was beautiful. Also, there were dance styles that I know and really like but never get a chance of doing at home, like contra and bal. The tempo and flow of contra and the possibilities for improvising with bal are great. When I was too tired to go on dancing in the evenings, I enjoyed watching the crowd of obviously happy dancers and listening to the really good music.

 Have dancers in your group recently attended a similar dance or music festival? If so, do get in touch with your pictures and we will look to share them.

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