Thursday 1 May 2014

The Real Pole Dancers??

Yorkshire community to resurrect maypole dancing

A group of girls from Carleton-in-Craven are learning the traditional dances of the Maypole, which has fallen out of fashion

A group of youngsters are determined to revive Maypole dancing - 25 years since the tradition has been taught in their community.

The 12 girls from Carleton-in-Craven, North Yorkshire, are being taught May Day songs and dances amid fears the tradition could be lost forever if it is not passed on.

Sarah Churcher, 34, is leading the initiative and part of a team of women passing on the skills to a new generation.

Mum-of-two Sarah said: "I think the excitement of going around the village and showing the villagers what we had done was a real treat.

"It felt like a really special thing to be involved in.

"The fun of it is what stands out to me."

Solicitor-by-day Sarah became involved after answering the rallying cry of her community to revive the tradition - before it's too late.

So far, 12 girls have begun learning the songs and dances in advance of this year's May Day performance.

Sarah said: "I really felt it was something I wanted to do because I so enjoyed it and I have a real feeling that if our generation do not get involved in things like this then they will completely die away."

But the revival is going further than just the classes - with a local joiner offering to make the maypole and the village pantomime group stepping forward to make the costumes.

Although much has changed since some of the women involved were younger the fundamental elements have remained the same, drawing on traditional folk songs for music.

"They are a little unusual for the children to sing but they sing them so well and they are so lovely and they have really entered into the spirit of doing it in the traditional way," said Sarah.

As a child, Sarah was taught the songs and dances of the Maypole after school alongside her female classmates by the ladies of the village ahead of an annual performance.

She said: "We used to go from one end of the village to the other and stop and dance and sing.

"People would come out of their houses and watch and then we would move on. It took a couple of hours during the morning.

"I think it probably felt like it was something quite out of the ordinary to us when we were that age.

"It was very popular around the village. People came out to support children of the village.

"That's something that goes on now. All the villagers are supportive of our community activities."

The invitation was open to boys but only girls are taking part - something the group hopes will change next year.

Unlike the travelling Maypoles of years gone by, this year's will remain in one place.

The Maypole dance will take place outside the Swan Inn in Carleton, at 3pm on May 5.

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