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Previous Stepdance Days
This year's Stepdance Day took place on Sunday 24th July in a new location, is in the village of Occold near Eye in mid Suffolk. The village made us very welcome, especially Danny, the new landlord at the Beaconsfield Arms and Barry from the Village Hall. We had a good turnout of stepdancers and although our younger regulars were elsewhere this year, we were very pleased to welcome several new dancers.
Doreen West O'Connor presents Lenny Whiting with the Percy West O'Connor Award.
Best Newcomer Irene Apps in action, with music from Steven Matthews.
|James Abbot in action.|
2016 winners were:
Steve Monk Competition: overall winner - Doreen West O'Connor; 2nd place Mo Allum; 3rd place Famie Fowler; best newcomer Irene Apps.
Font Whatling Competition: winner Simon Ritchie; 2nd place Robert Hunt; 3rd place Doreen West
Percy West O'Connor Award: winner Lenny Whiting; 2nd place Lesley Riding; 3rd place David Brooks.
Stepdance Day 2015
On Sunday 26th July, 72 year old Lenny Whiting from Stradbroke pulled off a remarkable feat of winning both of the annual dancing competitions held at the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust’s Stepdance Day at Worlingworth Swan. Over 200 people gathered to see some of the best stepdancers in the region and more than twenty people took part in the two competitions held during the day, with more people joining in a beginners’ workshop at the start of the event.
The aim of the first competition – the Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Championship, held for the last 16 years in memory of Framlingham stepdancer and singer Steve Monk – is to encourage anyone and everyone to have a go. Participants ranged in age from 5 upwards, including 13 year old Catrin Pena and Ella Beal aged 16, a previous winner. The Font Whatling Traditional Stepdance competition commemorates Font Whatling, a well-known musician and stepdancer across Suffolk and further afield, who played regularly in the Worlingworth Swan and is for more experienced dancers, with the aim of to keeping the local traditional style alive and in good shape.
Lenny has previously won both competitions, but never both in the same year! 17 year old Dominic Smith from Wingfield came second in both competitions, so Lenny has some stiff competition in future years!
Above: a proud Lenny Whiting receiving one of his trophies from judge Marilyn Monk.
Stepdance Day 2014
In 2014 Stepdance Day took place on Sunday 27th July at the Swan Inn in Worlingworth, Suffolk.
Winners of the 2014 competitions were:
Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Championship: Simon Harmer
Best Newcomer: Ron Frost
Font Whatling Traditional Stepdance Trophy: Simon Ritchie
Presentations of trophies and certificates are made at Traditional Music Day, during the Stepdance Special in the afternoon, for all those able to be present.
Photos all by John Halliday for EATMT.
Top row, left to right: Judges for the Font Whatling Traditional Stepdance Competition - Dusty Smith, Brian Whatling, Lenny Whiting; Simon Ritchie and Brian Whatling; Lenny Whiting dancing to Katie Howson playing; judges for the Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Championship - Simon Ritchie, Marilyn Monk, Ella Beal (2013 champion).
Bottom row, left to right: Simon Harmer and Marilyn Monk; Doreen West and Sue Mitchell; Billy Heffer; Ella Beal and Ron Frost.
Stepdance Day 2013
In 2013 Stepdance Day took place at The Swan Inn in Worlingworth, Suffolk on Sunday 21st July. It has been held here for several years, as it is where the famed stepdance Font Whatling lived, and the pub is still very welcoming to musicians and dancers.
For the first year in quite a while, all the winners were very local, although people had travelled from far and wide to watch and take part.
The Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Championship was eventually won, for the second time, by 13 year old Ella Beal from Framlingham in a dance-off against Doreen West, who took second place, with 15 year old Dominic Smith very close to them both on points. Robert Hunt from Thorndon won Best Newcomer.
The Font Whatling Traditional Stepdance Trophy was won by Lenny Whiting from Stradbroke, who was one of the many people present who remembered Font, but one of only a few who had danced to his music! Lenny also won this trophy in 2008.
In the midst of the heatwave, we were very lucky that the weather was fine and cooler, allowing people to spread out from the marquee under the trees in the back garden of the pub. As usual we had a couple of pony and traps in attendance and some singing and music after the main business of the day was over. The empty stage even tempted 17 month old Keeley-Sophia Love to have a go (see photo, below right).
Presentations of trophies and certificates are made at Traditional Music Day, during the Stepdance Special in the afternoon, for all those able to be present.
Below left: Ella Beal and Lenny Whiting with their trophies (photo: John Halliday)
Below right: Dominic Smith, Keeley-Sophia Love and Steve Matthews (photo: Rachel Robinson)
Stepdance Day 2012
A great turn-out of both dancers and audience on Sunday 29th July 2012, and most of us managed to stay dry despite the torrential downpour and thunder during the Steve Monk competition. This competition was won by Leo Temple, with Doreen West and Billy Heffer close behind. There were nine children in the competition this year, who all receive a certificate. The judging panel this year included Ella Beal, who won the entire competition last year, when she was eleven years old.
Photos below: Mo Allum dancing to Steve Matthews, Marilyn Monk presenting trophies to Leo Temple (centre) and Alfie Matthews (right).
All taken by John Halliday on 29th July 2012.
Stepdance Day 2011
The 2011 Stepdance Day took place on Sunday 10th July at the Swan in Worlingworth, near Framlingham in central Suffolk, a little gem of a pub with a real old-fashioned feel to it.
11 year-old Ella Beal won the Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Competition. Ella has been stepdancing since she was 7 years old, but that’s 4 years ago now, so she has a few years experience behind her, but it still came as an amazing surprise when she was announced as the winner, beating dancers of all ages. Ella’s mum, Lindsay, has been “instrumental” in supporting her, as she plays melodeon for Ella to dance to. Second was Simon Ritchie, and joint third were “Uncle” Mo Allum and Simon Harmer. Best newcomer was Pam Russell and best under 16 Stevie Chenery.
Many thanks to Teresa and staff at the Swan at Worlingworth for providing the marquee, beer and food, and to everyone else who helped out, joined in or watched!
Stepdance Day 2010
The 2010 Stepdance Day took place on Sunday 4th July in Worlingworth, near Framlingham in Suffolk.
After a short tutorial session, there followed the Steve Monk Memorial Competition (allcomers) and the Font Whatling Trophy. It is just over ten years since Steve Monk died, and his widow, Marilyn, spoke movingly about how much she appreciated the fact that this event was still keeping his memory alive amongst so many people. Marilyn is a judge for that competition, and Font Whatling's son Brian is on the panel for the Font Whatling Traditional Stepdance competition.
There were plenty of participants in the workshop session and both competitions, the results of which were as follows:
Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Competition
Overall Winner: Leo Temple (Baker)
Best Newcomer: Simon Harmer
Under-16: Alfie Matthews (7)
Font Whatling Traditional Stepdance Trophy
Stepdance Day 2009
The 2009 EATMT Stepdance Day took place on Sunday 5th July and was the fourth such event we organised, having taken over the reins from the Delarre family who founded and ran the Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Championship at Moreton in Essex for the first few years. Their original idea was not only to keep alive the memory of Steve Monk, a great entertainer who introduced many people in Essex to traditional music and dancing, but also to encourage anyone to have a go and take part in stepdancing. This aspect has really taken off in recent years, as may be seen by the fact there is now a stepdance day in Blaxhall as well, and people in Norfolk have also taken it up again keenly. Last year we expanded our event to include a second competition to encourage a higher standard of traditional-style dancing, as a tribute to Font Whatling, a legendary stepdancer who lived in Worlingworth, the village where our Stepdance Day has been held for the last couple of years. There are various other awards for newcomers and youngsters, thanks to patrons Gloria & Trevor Buckley and other supporters, but the real joy is in the fantastic atmosphere and the chance to see and meet up with other dancers.
The event took place at the Worlingworth Swan, thanks to the continuing support from both landlady Maxine, who supplied a marquee, and from Percy & Doreen West who provided enough boards for everyone to have a go in a workshop. The informal event kicked off about 1pm with a short tutorial session hosted by Simon Ritchie, followed by a music and stepping session. There then followed the two competitions, the Steve Monk Memorial Competition (allcomers) and the Font Whatling Trophy (hard-soled shoes only).
Winner of the Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Competition 2009 was Lenny Whiting. Runner-up was Leo Baker, (previously best newcomer) and best newcomer was Sue Mitchell. A new prize of best under-16 was awarded to Catrin Pena.
Winner of the Font Whatling Traditional Stepdance Trophy was Cyril Barber, aged 86, who astounded the entire audience by bounding up on stage unaided and won everybody over with his energetic and precise dancing. Runners up were Simon Ritchie and Doreen West.
Photographs of the event may be viewed online, thanks to EATMT member and photographer John Halliday who has kindly provided an opportunity for you to see more of his photos from EATMT events, and to make links with other enthusiasts on Facebook. You don't have to belong to Facebook to see the photographs, just click here to see the photos: Stepdance Day 2009.
Stepdance Day 2008
The annual Stepdance Day again took place at the Swan, Worlingworth, Framlingham, Suffolk on Sunday 3rd August. It featured the 9th annual Steve Monk Memorial Stepdance Competition and the 1st Font Whatling Traditional Stepdance Competition. A stepdance workshop at 12.30 was followed by a music, song and dance session until the Steve Monk Competition at 2.30 followed by the Font Whatling Competition. Steve Monk lived near Framlingham, and was a great character who influenced many people to 'have a go' at joining in with music and dance, and the competition was set up by some of his friends to keep this spirit alive. This year we introduced the Font Whatling competition in memory of the Swan's resident musician and stepper (1919-1998) who was for a number of years also a member of the Old Hat Concert Party and became well known at folk festivals around the country. The aim is to keep the older style of dancing with hard-soled shoes going. Dancers were welcome to enter both competitions. The Steve Monk competition is for allcomers at any level, and dancers had a free choice of music and musician. For the Font Whatling Trophy, entrants were not permitted to wear clogs or tap shoes, and had to dance to two specific tunes: Pigeon on the Gate (hornpipe) and Oh, Joe, the Boat is Going Over (polka) played by the same musician.
Despite exceptionally rainy weather, the event was extremely well-attended: we estimate that nearly 400 people came along to watch or participate! Simon Ritchie ran a short workshop at lunchtime, which was followed by a tune-up.
The Swan is a lovely old-fashioned pub and has recently been under threat from developers ... it deserves your support all the year round! Many many thanks to Maxine and all her staff for being so supportive of the Stepdance Day for the second year. Thanks also to Percy West for again sorting out enough boards for everyone to dance on and to patrons Gloria and Trevor Buckley for their support of the event.
Top row, left to right: Brian Whatling (Font's son, and a judge), Catrin Pena dancing to Simon Ritchie, Doreen O'Connor dancing to Steve Matthews, Steve Matthews.
Middle row, left to right: Lenny Whiting dances to Katie Howson, judges Simon Ritchie, Marilyn Monk & last year's winner Pam Buckley conferring, Dusty Smith (another judge) deep in thought, Gloria Buckley with some of the children who entered.
Bottom row, left to right: Gloria Buckley and Catrin Pena, Brian Whatling presenting Lenny Whiting with the Font Whatling Memorial Trophy, Marilyn Monk presenting Percy West with the Steve Monk Memorial Cup, Shaun Kelly with Best Newcomer award.
More photos of the event are on the Facebook website, courtesy of John Halliday: More photos of Stepdance Day 2008
Stepdance Day 2007
took place on a blazing hot day, but the
marquee and mature trees in the garden of the Swan at Worlingworth provided
enough shade for the two hundred or so people who attended the 8th Annual Steve
Monk Memorial Stepdance Competition.
Simon Ritchie ran an informal and informative workshop over lunchtime, and eighteen people entered the competition in the afternoon. Steve Monk, who died age 48 in April 2000, was a great entertainer with a mischievous sense of fun. He introduced Simon Ritchie to traditional music, and Simon continues Steve’s light-hearted approach in this event. Joining Simon as judges this year were Percy West (last year’s winner) and Marilyn Monk.
Top row, left to right: Doreen O'Connor, Worlingworth Swan, Cyril Barber, Worlingworth (yes, it really is in the middle of nowhere!)
Middle row, left to right: workshop, the Marquee, workshop
Bottom row: Lenny Whiting, Marilyn Monk presents Pam Buckley with the overall winner's award, Gloria Buckley presents Leo Baker with the Best Newcomer award, Leo in action
More photos of the event are on the Facebook website, courtesy of John Halliday:More photos of Stepdance Day 2007
Stepdance Day 2006
Blazing hot weather on a Sunday in July 2006 didn’t put off the large
number of people who took part in a stepdancing workshop and competition and got
even hotter! Fortunately, the main hall at the Riverside Centre in Stratford St.
Andrew near the Suffolk coast was nice and cool for the workshop led by Simon
Ritchie from Thaxted, Pam Buckley from Wisbech and Tom Orchard, special guest
Workshop goers were taught a variety of steps and had the treat of demonstrations by the tutors and several other local stepdancers including Cyril Barber, Percy West and Lenny Whiting.
Everyone then moved outside for the stepdance competition, which
saw a record number of twenty-one participants enter, with ages from ten to
eighty-three, and many new-comers. After much debate and recounting of scores,
the winner was announced as Percy West from Palgrave near Diss.
Many thanks are due to Steve and Jayne Delarre who set up the original event, Dick and Angela Plant at the Riverside Centre and Suffolk Coastal District Council, and to all the people who took part in the workshop and competition - keep it up!
Photos, left to right: Morning workshop, with Tom Orchard teaching; Lenny Whiting in the competition; Percy West receiving his prize from one of the judges, Simon Ritchie; Cyril Barber, winner of the lifetime achievement award.
Previous to 2006, the Steve Monk Memorial Championship was run by the Delarre family - in 2005 it was at the Eel's Foot in Suffolk, and before that, at the Moreton Festival near Chelmsford in Essex. In 2005 we ran it together and in 2006 EATMT stepped in to run it when it would otherwise have been cancelled. Many thanks to Steve, Jayne, Dave and Jamie for setting it up, keeping it going and passing it on!
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