We assembled in Sydney, Cape Breton, on Friday 1st April over breakfast in the hotel where we were mostly staying. There were:
Heather Sparling: Primarily a musician, interested in the social background of Cape Breton dance and music. Associate Prof. at Cape Breton University, Sydney.
Kristen Harris-Walch: A dance researcher based in Memorial University, St John’s, Newfoundland interested in the transmission of dance traditions.
Sherry Johnson: A dancer and researcher based in the traditions of the Ottawa region. Associate Prof at York University ( the Canadian York!)
Pierre Chartrand: Quebec based step dancer and general fount of knowledge on the French-Canadian traditions
Catherine Foley: Prof. at Limerick , very knowledgeable about all the different Irish dance strands and their contexts.
Anne Hollet: An active Newfoundland stepper with interest and enthusiasm.
Kimberley Fraser: a young Cape Breton from Sydney Mines. Fiddler and dancer and piano player steeped in the local tradition.
Chris the technical whizz from Sydney University.
We debated similarities between different traditions and the transmission of steps. Various dancers taught a few steps to demonstrate key features. It was very interesting. I was particularly surprised at the Orkney step dancing being very popular with the Inuit communities in arctic provinces, brought over by early whalers! They were very surprised how few Brits step danced. In Canada everyone steps a bit in the social dances, and it is popular to do stepping as well.
Pierre has set up a google discussion group for us to share links and ideas.