Georgia Shorrock, who recently moved into Allendale, has been active in the Hadrian Clog Dance group for some time, and sends us this fulsome report on their activities:
“Hadrian Clog has become a familiar sight around the Allen Valleys over the past few years, entertaining audiences with their range of traditional clog and hard shoe dances. At May Fairs, the folk festivals, village hall ceilidhs, WI talks, workshops and more recently at their Dance the Dale weekend, the team have tried to preserve traditions that were taking place in the valleys hundreds of years ago.
Hadrian Clog was set up in 2012 when a few clog dancing friends decided that it was important to preserve the traditions of the North East, and also to share their knowledge through talks, demonstrations and workshops. It was at a clog dancing workshop at the first Allen Valleys Folk Festival that they recruited Victoria from Catton and Kate from Allendale to also join their team. Neither had danced clog before but were keen to learn. Both are now team members, not only them but their children too.
Simon, Rebecca, Bonnie and Amina from Rookhope are also part of the team, as both musicians and dancers, and more recently Georgia and Chris have moved into Allendale, so the team feels very at home in the valley. Other team members come from Hexham and Newcastle.
The team dances steps collected by Georgia over the last 40 years, from Northumberland, Durham, Tyne and Wear, Lancashire and further afield, from the Scottish Islands, Cape Breton, Quebec, Ottawa and more. The dance clogs are now lighter and more shaped to allow dancers to perform intricate steps on heels and toes. However they still bear a strong resemblance to the clogs worn in Allendale 200 years ago by farmers, pitmen and children for school. Each area had its own Society of Clogmakers and I am sure Allendale is no exception. There was even the North of England Amalgamated Society of Master Cloggers, highlighting the importance of the trade.
The dance steps would have originally been performed by miners, or mill workers, or bargemen, and in the north the tradition of clog competitions came about, and eventually clog dancing was taken to the stage. Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel both started their career as clog dancers.
Hadrian Clog take traditional steps, give them their own ‘Hadrian’ twist and pair them with their favourite folk tunes, performed on concertinas, fiddles, guitars and melodeon. The team also develop their own dances. The most recent, the Hadrian Hornpipe, mimics the rhythms of looms and shuttles from the mills of Durham and the north east. Hadrian Clog is a family-friendly team (our dancers range in age from six to over 60) and we are passionate about teaching dances to our younger members and keeping the clog dancing traditions alive. We currently have five pairs of mother and daughter dancers and our ‘Hadrian’s Tiny Tappers’ regularly perform with us, inevitably generating the loudest applause of the day!
The team are happy to run workshops and give talks to WIs etc. to ensure the history of clog dancing in this area is not lost. We practice in Hexham and perform throughout the year at a wide variety of festivals, days of dance and club/group events. We offer clog dancing workshops for a range of abilities, from complete beginners at local music festivals to more experienced dancers at events such as Whitby Folk Week, Shrewsbury Festival, Shepley Festival and the Lancashire Wallopers Weekend.
Hadrian will be dancing in the square on Saturday as part of the Allen Valley Folk Festival so do come along and say hello. If anyone is interested in learning more, or joining the team please contact Georgia Shorrock on 01434 618402 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a look at our website Hadrianclog.com or find us on Facebook @HadrianClog.”
Thanks Georgia, it all sounds like brilliant fun and a wonderful activity!