Dancing mistress from Whitehaven, Cumberland. Marion’s father, Roland Cowper had also been a dancing master, and it was from him that Marion learned her material.  The story of the Cowper family is set out in the 1983 publication below.

The IRT met Marion and her daughter Adrienne in February 1983 at their dancing school in Whitehaven. Marion knew a wide range of clog and step dance material.  As regards the former, she was able to teach the waltz and hornpipe steps she had learned from her father.

As a result two booklets were published as part of the Newcastle Series:

Crane, A. et al., The Cowper Family:  Biography and Waltz, Newcastle: Newcastle Series, (1983). documents the family’s waltz steps.  These were often choreographed by Marion into a routine for whatever number of dancers she had available and this style of performance was adopted by several dance teams in the 1980s.  The steps themselves in reality consisted of short units, usually a bar or two in length, used to build up a routine, there being no finish in the normal sense.

Crane, A. & Douglass, J., The Cowper Family Hornpipe Steps, Newcastle: Newcastle Series, (1991), deals with the family’s 4/4 hornpipe material.  The repertoire consisted of 11 steps and 4 finishes.

Additionally Marion knew a number of fancy dances:

Horse to Newmarket – filmed in  1990.
Sword Dance – collected by T.M. Flett on 18/9/1962.

A number of films of Marion and Adrienne Cowper dancing are available:

  1. Marion Cowper dancing some of her hornpipe steps, Whitehaven 5/2/1983.
  2. Adrienne Cowper dancing the family hornpipe steps, Whitehaven 5/2/1983.
  3. Adrienne Cowper dancing some of her family’s waltz steps, Whitehaven 5/2/1983.
  4. Marion and Adrienne Cowper waltz duet, Whitehaven 5/2/1983.
  5. Marion Cowper performing a selection of waltz steps at the Newcastle Weekend of dance in 1983.
  6. Marion Cowper teaching her waltz steps to a class at the Newcastle Weekend of Dance in 1983.
  7. Members of the IRT collecting the dance Horse to Newmarket at her studio in Whitehaven in  1990.

Additionally, a film of Ian Dunmur dancing Marion’s hornpipe steps on a pedestal is also available:

  1. Ian Dunmur performing Marion Cowper’s hornpipe steps on a pedestal at the Reading Day of Dance on 23rd October 1993.

Information derived from  visits by the IRT to Marion Cowper on 5/2/1983 and 1990, and an interview by Tom Flett with her on 18/9/1962.

Cowper, Misses Elsie & Beatrice, Acomb, York, England, 28 March 1960