Annual Review, InstepRT 2019.

This last year has been a very productive and busy one for Instep as a group and for individual members within the group. We have raised our profile considerably and have strengthened our membership with the addition of several notable step and clog dancers/researchers to the team. I welcome them to their first AGM. 

We have achieved actions against all our objects as set out in our constitution: (https://insteprt.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/IRT-Charity-Constitution-Signed-2018.pdf)   These are itemised below: 

Research.

We have been able to support three worthwhile stepping projects (the Glossop Clog project, EATMT stepping day and the ClogNet project) with the money provided by our donor and these seem to be progressing well. The final reports will be available from all three projects in due course and will be uploaded to the Instep website. It is hoped that we’ll be able to offer further bursaries this year with the promise of continued funding  from our donor. Getting the bursary application process right was a bit of a challenge, but hopefully, this will be easier next time round. 

The second Flett Frenzy took place in March at Chez Chris’ and Hazel’s and was successful in getting all the Scottish Flett material on line on the website, so another huge task completed and ticked off. 

Workshops, demonstrations, public engagement & participation

As ever, we had a good presence at Sidmouth, with Jo and Simon hosting the very successful Rugby Club sessions during the week, plus daytime stepping workshops, and further workshops lead by Lisa Sture, Melanie Barber and Jenny Read. The absolute gem of the week though was the panel discussion at the Arts Centre on ‘The role of competitions in step dance traditions’, with Chris Metherell, Katie Howson, Jenny Read, Lisa Sture, Toby Bennett and Melanie Barber on the panel. It was clear that the ensuing discussion could have run over several days, so much was raised and considered.  It was a particular delight to have stepping performances from Lisa and Jenny doing Dartmoor stepping and Lou Beale performing some quite lovely East Anglian stepping.

Conferences and liaising with other organisations. 

The ‘Stepping On’ conference at Cecil Sharp House (CSH), run in conjunction with CSH, the Historical Dance Society and Roehampton University in November proved to be the most wonderful weekend, with the chance for step dancers of all shades and styles to come together for a meeting of minds and feet.  The academic papers were varied and interesting and gave us much to discuss and consider, many of them from Instep members themselves.  These comprised a paper by Dr Mats Melin  ethnochoreologist, University of Limerick, on the notion of the Scotch reel as a solo dance; a virtual presentation on the history of stepping in Australia from Dr Heather Blasdale-Clarke from Queensland University; a paper on Dartmoor stepping from Lisa Sture,  lead on the Dartmoor stepping project; one from Dr Sherry Johnson, ethnomusicologist from York University, Canada on Ontario old time stepping; another from Alex Fisher, professional dancer and teacher on the roots of Lancashire street dance; and an interesting paper on hornpipe stepping in ceilidhs by Chloe Middleton-Metcalf PhD student, Roehampton University. The best and most outstanding paper and performance, though, has to be Simon Harmer’s (teacher, performer & choreographer) ‘Whistling Billy’s Barefoot Hornpipe’. His contemporary interpretation of the hornpipe steps was absolutely stunning, so carefully researched and choreographed – it must have taken him hours and hours of work to have perfected such a stunning performance.  A huge thank you also needs to go to Toby for being the Instep contact for this conference and also the co-ordinator for the whole weekend. He seemed to be running on adrenaline for the whole conference!

It was good to see the two very wonderful images on the new Instep banners on display at the conference as well. Thanks to Simon Harmer and John Howson for the artwork and creation of these banners. 

Publications in the public domain

It’s also pleasing to note that we have managed to have an article published in three of the quarterly EDS magazines this year again. Contributions this year have come from  Sue Jenkinson & Lynette Eldon on the renaissance  of the Northern Counties Clog Championships, Chris Metherell on the 19th century World Clog Dance Championships, and Alex Fisher & Julie Williams with an article on John Frith, a miner and clog dancer from Lancashire. Hopefully we will continue to contribute articles to EDS as, in doing so, we are putting our work into the public domain, a stated aim of our group. 

As well as all this, there have been many very interesting email conversations around a great number of issues, through which links have been made and new material found, conversations which wouldn’t have been possible without us all being part of the Instep group. 

Another challenge was getting our charity bank account sorted out, especially for Simon as treasurer, so thanks to him for his perseverance.  It now seems to be sorted …..

Statistics 

We have 1,553 pages on our website. Over 850 media items, and 252 video clips.  Since setting it up, we have had over 40,000 views.   We get 750- 1000 a month. After the UK, came from USA (810), Australia (201) and Ireland (125). 

Many single hits were probably genealogists, but the film pages and dancers info pages get lots of visits. Quite impressive and a good indicator of the amount and spread of information from the website.

A good year all round – here’s to an equally successful year this year!Julie Williams, Chair,  January, 202

Annual Review 2019