Devon Step Dance Competitions

Step dancing in Devon appears to have had a competitive element for many years.  Bob Cann was able to recall coming 3rd in  a competition at Whiddon Down, Devon, when he was 14 (thus in about 1930).  When Bob revived these contests at the Traditional Dartmoor Folk Festival in 1977 they had (and continue to have) a rather formal style, apparently reflecting at least some earlier contests.

Dancers perform on a small board, Bob preferring one 15 inches (about 30cm) square, although Leslie Rice believed it should be 18 inches (about 36cm) square. Each dancer performs a setting step twice, followed by a dancing step, also performed twice.  The dancer then stands aside for the next dancer to perform.  Each dancer performs three times.

A good description of these contests before WW2 can be found in  C. and A. Metherell, Devon Step Dancers 2. Leslie Rice, Newcastle: Newcastle Series, (1991).

The following films are available:

  1. Bob Cann and Leslie Rice reminiscing about Devon competitions. Undated.