Leap of Faith Longsword
DANCE ORIGINS: England and USA
GENRE: English Display Dance
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER: Kyla Brooke
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2011
Leap of Faith was founded in 2008 as a team of skilled dancers who perform “display dances” in the English tradition with an American flair. Predominantly a longsword team, the group also performs English clog dance, morris dance, and other related traditions. Members have been dancing from ten to more than thirty years. Artistic director is Kyla Brooke.
TITLES: Charley’s Stars, Furry Day Carol, Take 5
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Traditional steps adapted by Leap of Faith (Charley’s Stars); Judy Erikson (Take 5)
DANCERS: Francis Attanasio, Dana Balan, Jon Box, Kyla Brooke, Anise Feldman, Jane Hecht, Kalia Kliban, Sue Meighan, Dave Michaelson
Jon Berger (fiddle, accordion, vocals), Doug Olsen (vocals)
Leap of Faith honors the solstice with English display dances and music. The set is in three parts:
I. Charley’s Star’s is a Cotswold morris dance, an English dance style dating back to at least the fifteenth century. (The Cotswold region is known for a relatively unbroken, centuries-old dancing record.) The morris is a joyful dance, performed to celebrate springtime in villages and fairs. This performance is in the Bampton style, with a repeated chorus adapted from local morris dance variations. It’s performed to “The Moon and Seven Stars”, a 1750’s American contra dance tune with English origins.
In English spring revelries, morris dancers wear ribbons. They once sewed bells and pieces of metal on their clothes: now they wear bell pads on their legs. Handkerchiefs or sticks accompany the hand movement. In traditional morris dancing, a sword-and-cake bearer distributes pieces of cake. The Green Man might even appear, as he is happily associated with this springtime dance, as a symbol of life and rebirth.
II. Vocalists Doug Olsen and Jon Berger sing “The Furry Day Carol”, a May Day song, from Helston, Cornwall. The word “furry” comes from the Latin feria, holiday.
III. Take Five is a longsword dance, a form originally from Yorkshire. It has been traditionally danced in the winter, especially on Boxing Day and Plough Monday. It was also often seen in mummer’s plays—performed with metal or wooden swords. Leap of Faith exhibits an unusual choreography: they use American-style footwork, and dance the only sword dance known to have a five-beat meter.
Choreography: Leap of Faith choreographed Charley’s Stars in 2011; Take Five was choreographed by Judy Erickson in the 1990s. The tune is “Take Five” by Paul Desmond, made famous by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Jon Berger plays accordion and fiddle, and arranged the tunes.
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