Dance reviews

Tenterhooks with Sue Coe   15 April 2017

The Ryburn 3 Step Barn Dances always take place on the third Saturday in the month from October through to April which was Easter Saturday this year. Although some of our regular dancers were away on holiday, we had a good number of dancers and an enjoyable evening’s dancing.

Photo: Steve Jones

Caller Sue Coe recently received a gold award from the English Folk Dance and Song Society, in part for her work in promoting traditional English dance in schools up and down the country. Sue encourages the children to create their own dances and we were treated to three of these;  ‘Westfield Four Star’, ‘Railtrack’ and the ‘Zetland Circle Dance’ (the latter with its distinctive clapping pattern which is harder than it looks). Many of the other dances were  favourites such as ‘Bridge of Athlone’ and ‘Clopton Bridge’, and the evening was rounded off with everyone on the dance floor for ‘Soldiers Joy’.

Tenterhooks with Sue Coe. Photo: Steve Jones

Tenterhooks provided a varied range of tunes which were well-matched to the dances. Particularly enjoyable was the pair of Lakeland jigs selected for the Circassian Circle called ‘Liberty for the Sailors’ and ‘Kendall Ghyll’. ‘Barley Break’ was pushed along in fine style by the jigs ‘Trip to the Lakes’ and ‘Whip her and Gird her’ and the various combinations of instruments gave a pleasing variety to the music.

This dance was Ryburn 3 Step’s final barn dance of the 2016-7 season and the 2017-8 season begins on October 21st with Baz Parkes and Phoenix. However, there will be dances at Waring Green on May 20th and September 16th courtesy of Dave Webster.

The Tenterhooks Band line-up was:

Chris Partington – fiddle
Paul Roberts – fiddle and border pipes
Johnny Adams – piano and fiddle

Sue’s dances included:

Circassian Circle – single circle
Buttered Peas – Sicilian circle
Bridge of Athlone – 4 couple longwise
Holmfirth Square  – 4 couple square
Zetland Circle Dance – double circle
Cumberland Long Eight – 4 couple longwise
Cumberland Square Eight – 4 couple square

Westfield Four Star – Sicilian circle
Barley Break – 4 couple longwise
Circle Waltz – single circle
Grapevine Twist – 4 couple square
Railtrack – 4 couple longwise
Clopton Bridge – 4 couple longwise

Steve Jones.


The Black Box Band with Pete Coe 18 March 2017

Last night’s  barn dance at Waring Green featured the stalwarts of Ryburn 3 Step the Black Box Band with caller Pete Coe, and highlighted the organisation’s commitment to keeping English Country Dance alive in West Yorkshire. Declining numbers attending (and consequently revenue from) the Waring Green dances have meant that we are now focussing on booking local bands (and on occasions local callers) to reduce travelling costs. Since West Yorkshire has several excellent bands we have been able to maintain the quality of the dances.

The crowd who came to the dance last night certainly did not leave disappointed. Pete Coe has decades of experience playing and calling for barn dances and he used that expertise to construct an interesting and varied programme. The evening was topped and tailed with old favourites the Boston Two Step and Soldiers Joy. In between we had dances from Scotland (Foulla Reel), Lancashire (Lancashire Reel) and, closer to home, Jack the Lad, which was collected in Barkisland and (uniquely, I think) has a curious “window wiping” clapping sequence. Interspersed were some of Pete’s own dances (Black Hole, 200 Not Out – extemporised at a birthday dance for four fifty year old friends and Athelstan’s Crown -which was devised with the help of pupils from Athelstan’s Junior School).

The Black Box Band provided a solid musical platform for Pete’s dances and while many of the tunes were old favourites (e.g. Bielbie’s and the Kirkgate Hornpipes, the Hesleyside and Roxburgh Castle reels, Captain White’s and Four Seasons jigs), they were perfectly matched to the dances in terms of lift and speed. The musical highlight of the evening was the set played for 200 Not Out which comprised the Sadler’s Wells and Butcher’s Hornpipes. These lovely old tunes cascade lyrically over two octaves and were ideally suited to what is a rather stately dance.

So, another great evening of music and dance for which we should be very grateful to the skill and generosity of the Black Box Band and Pete Coe.

The last dance of the Ryburn 3 Step series before the summer break takes place on Saturday April 15th and features caller Sue Coe together with the Tenterhooks Band MORE INFO…

The Black Box Band consisted of:
Steve Harrison on melodeon and harmonicas
Chris Partington on fiddle
Alice Jones on piano

Pete’s Dances included:
The Boston 2 Step – couple dance
The Lancashire Reel – couples in a big circle, progressive
Black Hole (Pete Coe) – 4 couple longwise
Jack the Lad – couples longwise for as many as will
Heartbreaker – couples square sets
Aethelstan’s Crown – multiple couples in a circle
200 Not Out -Sicilian Circle couples (Pete Coe)
Flowers of Edinburgh – longwise for as many as will
Quarndon – Sicilian Circle couples (Roger Watson)
The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow – 4 couple longwise
Foula Reel – 4 couple longwise
Three Meet – Sicilian Circle triples
Soldiers Joy – couples in a big circle

Steve Jones March 19th 2017

Ripponden Village Dance 11 March 2017

The Victoria Hall in Ripponden thundered to the sound of dancing feet on Saturday 11 March as Ryburn 3 Step staged two dances organised by the Ryburn Longsword Team.

Photo: Alan Day

Early in the evening, a family barn dance was well attended by over 50 local children and their parents. For 2 hours the children (and their parents) enjoyed some energetic dancing, singing, and refreshments (provided by Ripponden J&I School PTFA). Proceeds from ticket sales and refreshments exceeded £200 and this all went to the Ripponden J&I School PTFA who helped organise the event.

‘OFFCUTS’ Photo: Alan Day

Live music was provided by the band ‘Offcuts‘ (who are some of the musicians for Ryburn Longsword), and the dances were called by Pauline Jones and Sue Coe, both Ryburn Longsword dancers. English country dances like Buttered Peas were interspersed with dances from further afield such as a Farandole (a French chain dance from Provence) and Pas de Loup played and called by bagpiper Michael Beeke. During the interval, local folk singer, Chris Coe lead a couple of songs accompanied by signing in Makaton (a visual language that uses signs and symbols to aid communication).

Photo: Alan Day

Later that evening, ‘Grown-up’ dancers enjoyed a range of English dances again called by Sue and Pauline. Music for the dances, played by the band ‘Offcuts’, included a variety of traditional popular tunes including ‘Parson’s Farewell’ from Playford, ‘Because he was a Bonny Lad’ from the Northumbrian piping tradition and polkas from France and Belgium.

Ryburn Longsword Photo: Alan Day

Ryburn Longsword dancers gave a display of Longsword dancing during the interval.

If you would like to find out more about Longsword Dancing in Ripponden (children and adults) look HERE….

Heartfelt thanks were expressed to the Conservative Club for the generous hall hire terms and excellent bar staff, to the Ripponden Co-op for raffle prizes, and of course to the members of Ryburn Longsword and their partners who set up, cleared away, and generally did the donkey work.

Offcuts‘ consisted of:
Michael Beeke on bagpipes and recorder
Alice Jones on keyboard
Ruth Eccles on whistle
Andy Day on English concertina
Steve Jones on octave mandolin

Steve Jones

The Black Box Band with Dave Hunt 21 January 2017

A good crowd turned out for the January Barn Dance at Waring Green and they were treated to a fine evening of music and dancing.

Caller Dave Hunt has many years of dance calling experience and is a regular visitor to Calderdale. We were treated to some dances written by Dave, including Shifting Sands (named after his wife) and his popular Waterloo Dance to the tune of the same name. Dave also introduced dances with unusual figures such as the double-backed chain in Bob Cann’s Sicilian Circle Dance and the North Country Ladies Chain in the Rifleman. As we have come to expect from Dave, he encouraged a certain element of mayhem in dances such as Three around Three and the Garland Square and if you are ever in a set and he claims that the Boston Tea Party can be danced by more than 6 couples, be prepared for an energetic workout.

The music for the dance was provided by local musicians and Ryburn 3 Step stalwarts, the Black Box Band.

Photo: Steve Jones

With Johnny Adams providing a solid rhythm on the keyboard, the band played a succession of popular, lively and mostly northern tunes. Perhaps the musical highlight was the tune set for the Rifleman, when Johnny joined Chris Partington on fiddle, Steve played harmonica and, supported by Chris Coe’s dulcimer, they played two cracking versions of the Morpeth Rant, the second from the playing of border fiddler Tom Hughes.

With at least seventeen dances over the course of evening and a final polka to the tune of Astley’s Ride, Ryburn 3 Step provided yet another great evening of dancing.

The Black Box Band line-up was (for this occasion):
Steve Harrison Melodeon and harmonica
Chris Partington Fiddle
Chris Coe Hammer Dulcimer
Johnny Adams Piano and fiddle

A selection of the dances Dave Hunt called included:
Scatter Promenade 2 couple circle dance
Shifting Sands Sicilian Circle
Chancellor’s Farewell Sicilian Circle
Waterloo Dance Square sets
Soldiers Joy Longwise
Dear Jim 4 couple longwise
Fairfield Fancy Sicilian Circle
Carousel Sicilian Circle

Steve Jones

New Year’s Eve Dance with the Black Box Big Band and Sue Coe 31 December 2016

Last night around 140 people danced the Old Year out and the New Year in at our New Year’s Eve Ceildh at its regular venue, Greenhead College, in Huddersfield. Structural building work has resulted in a reduction in the floor space available for dancing but this did not deter an enthusiastic audience from having a thoroughly good time.

Photo: Steve Jones

The Black Box Big Band comprised Steve Harrison (melodeon and harmonicas), Chris Partington (fiddle), Alice Jones (piano), Chris Coe (hammer dulcimer) and Johnny Adams (fiddle). Together they played a steady stream of highly danceable (mostly northern) tunes. while Caller Sue Coe led dancers through sets of familiar dances including favourites such as “Buttered Peas,” “Clopton Bridge” and “the Willow Tree”. Sue also called some dances she has brought back from teaching at junior schools, which included the “Westfield Four Star” and the “Zetland Circle Dance” with a bewildering clapping routine.

Photo: Steve Jones

Budding dance caller Ivy called a couple of quirky dances, one of which included a figure she called ATM which included a different but equally puzzling clapping sequence. The evening ended with the singing of the Wassail Song and, on the stroke of midnight, a rousing rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” with a traditional circle of crossed-arms. One final dance of “Muffin Man’s Jig,” followed by a set of polkas and another New Year had been welcomed in.

Thanks to the Black Box Big Band for the music, Sue Coe for calling, and all those who did the arranging and organising.

Steve Jones.


Peeping Tom with Baz Parkes 17 December 2016

December’s barn dance at Waring Green Community Centre was an irreverent and energetic romp through the English Country Dance tradition. Caller Baz Parkes is well known to ceilidh aficionados as one of the best callers on the circuit with his extensive repertoire of dances and his ironic calling style. Interspersed between dance standards such as the Holmfirth Square, Clopton Bridge and the Cornish Six Hand Reel, were dances new to me such as the Atlantic Hornpipe, Four Jolly Sheepskins and (Mary Panton’s) Dear Jim.

Photo: Steve Jones

Peeping Tom is one of the most popular ceilidh bands around and demonstrated why, with great tunes played at a cracking pace that raised spirits and heart rates in equal measure. I lost count of the number of tunes that they included in their sets which, like Baz’s dances, mixed old favourites (Marmalade Polka, Bonnie Kate) with less well-known but equally danceable tunes. During the dance Ripple of Teign (written by Dartmoor’s Bob Cann) we were treated to solos on the cittern and guitar and a full run-through of the tune on the electric bass of John Macintosh. The pace was fast, the dancers flushed and even the Christmas tree in the corner was rocking.

Thanks Baz and Peeping Tom for a great night!
Baz’s Dances included:

  1. Atlantic Hornpipe; 3 couple longwise sets
  2. Holmfirth Square; 4 couple square sets
  3. Balance the Star; Sicilian circle for couples
  4. La Russe; 4 couple square sets
  5. Clopton Bridge; 4 couple longwise sets
  6. Ripple of the Teign; 6 couple longwise sets
  7. Dear Jim; 4 couple longwise sets
  8. Three Handed Star; Sicilian circle for triples
  9. St Bernards Waltz; couples in a circle
  10. Four Jolly Sheepskins; four couple longwise sets
  11. Chancellor’s Farewell; Sicilian circle for couples
  12. Le Bastringue; three couple longwise sets
  13. Cornish Six Hand Reel; 3 couples in line

Peeping Tom are:
Ben Woodward – melodeon;
Ian Wilson – keyboards and cittern;
Pete Smale -guitar;
John McIntosh – bass guitar and tambourine;
Barry Malin – drums and percussion.

Steve Jones

“Hands Across the Pennines” – Tenterhooks with Sid Calderbank 19 November 2016

Caller Sid Calderbank announced that he had christened this month’s barn dance as “Hands Across the Pennines.” As he explained, a Lancashire caller with a Yorkshire band, calling Lancashire dances for Yorkshire dancers.

As it turned out, Sid called dances from Ireland (“Siege of Ennis”) and Scotland (“Foulla Reel”, “Dashing White Sergeant”), as well as Yorkshire (“Goathland Square Eight”) along with Lancashire dances (e.g. “White Coppice” named after a Lancashire hamlet which boasts the “most beautiful cricket ground in England”).

Sid’s calling style is clear, forthright and seasoned with a hefty pinch of Lancashire irony. Punctuating the dances were anecdotes of how he acquired some of them plus poems in broad Lancashire dialect written by Sid’s idols such as Edwin Waugh and Benjamin Woods. (Sid’s rendition of Woods’ “Bobby Grundy: A Village Shop” was a veritable tour de force.)tenterhooks

Providing the music was the local band, Tenterhooks, with Johnny Adams deputising for Alison Roberts. The combination of three fiddles worked brilliantly and old favourite tunes such as the “Morpeth Rant”, “Earl Grey” and “Four Seasons” were given new life with intricate harmonies and raunchy drones. Earlier in the set we were treated to a couple of Scottish tunes (“Rock and Wee Pickle Tow” and “the Noble Lord Dacre”) which introduced Paul’s border pipes to the mix but it was the tune “Will the Barber” for the Foulla Reel that really showcased the bagpipes’ wonderful sound and Paul’s excellent playing.

Sid’s Dances included:

1  Big Set, a simple warm-up circle dance for couples which turned progressive;
2  Sicilian Circle; another warm-up of basic ceilidh figures;
3  Siege of Ennis; lines of four facing four;
4  The Three Handed Star; Sicilian Circle for triples;
5  White Coppice; square sets;
6  Waves of Tory; 5 couple longwise sets;
7  Goathland Square Eight; 4 couple square sets;
8  Foulla Reel; 4 couple longwise sets;
9  Dashing White Sergeant; Sicilian Circle for triples; 
10  Virginia Reel; 5 couple longwise sets;
11  Willow Tree; 8 couples longwise sets
12  Simple progressive dance for couples;
13  Circassian Circle; couples in a circle.

Tenterhooks are:

Paul Roberts: Fiddle and Border Pipes
Chris Partington: Fiddle
Johnny Adams: Fiddle and Piano

Steve Jones.

Trinculo with John Brown 15 October 2016

“Joyous. Wonderful music …..fabulous dances” Fiona Miller, regular dancer at Ryburn 3 Step Barn Dances.

October’s barn dance brought Sheffield caller John Brown with one of his regular bands, Trinculo (also from Sheffield) to Waring Green Community Centre for a great evening of rousing music and excellent English ceilidh dances. Despite missing a number of Waring Green regulars, the dancing was enthusiastic and new dancers were readily incorporated to the sets by the more experienced.

A list of John’s choice of dances is below. Highlights included an opening dance with three couple triangular sets called the “Mysterious Triangle”; the square set “The New Mrs. Arrowsmith” danced to a wonderful Swedish hornpipe translated as “Judgement”; a contra style dance written by Martin Harvey called “Aw Shucks” which was danced

Photo: Steve Jones
Photo: Steve Jones

to two fine reels (one of unknown name but “collected” from the playing of Last Night’s Fun and a Quebecois reel called “Le Quatre Ser en l’Air”; and a final gallop in the Beckett formation (long sets with partners side-by-side) in the “Yarmouth Long Dance”.

Trinculo’s line-up of bass, guitar, piano accordion, fiddle, whistles and soprano saxophone generated depth and pace with an eclectic choice of tunes and original arrangements. John’s dances covered a range of styles and degrees of difficulty which were accessible to new dancers and challenging enough for the Waring Green regulars.

Photo: Steve Jones
Photo: Steve Jones

All in all, the evening was a terrific start to the new season of Ryburn 3 Step Barn Dances which continues on Saturday November 19th with music from local band Tenterhooks and caller from the other side of the hill, Sid Calderbank.

John Brown’s Dances (some of which are published on his web site) were:
1 Mysterious Triangle; Triangular sets of 3 couples;
2 Country Bumpkin; 5 Couple Longwise sets;
3 Fairfield Fancy; Circassian Circle;
4 The New Mrs Arrowsmith; 4 Couple Square sets;
5 Rosa; Couple Waltz;
6 Waves of Tory; 5 Couple Longwise sets;
7 Strip the Willow Square; 4 Couple Square sets;
8 Unknown (yes that is the title); 5 Couple Longwise sets;
9 Aw Shucks; Long sets, improper;
10 Stoke Golding Country Dance; 5 Couple Longwise sets;
11 Twelve Meet; 4 Triple Square Sets;
12 TAG; 4 Couple Longwise sets;
13 Yarmouth Long Dance; Long sets Beckett formation;

Trinculo are:
Simon Dumpleton – Piano Accordion;
Nigel Holmes – Acoustic Guitar;
Aisling Holmes – Fiddle;
Lee O’Donnell – Electric Bass Guitar;
Jemma Gurney – Whistles and Soprano Saxophone.

Steve Jones.


Windy Gyle with Pete and Sue Coe 26 March 2016

Northumbrian music ruled OK at the R3S dance at Waring Green Community Centre on 26 March! The 5 – piece band from the heart of Northumberland delighted us with sequences of the most exciting tunes from the tradition while Pete and Sue called a range of Northern English dances including a Northumbrian version of the ‘Flowers of Edinburgh’  to the great enjoyment of the dancers. During a well-earned break from the dancing, we were treated to an exceptional display of Northumbrian piping in a duet from Paul Knox and Alice Burn and then an unbelievably precise (and fast) solo set with variations from Alice. A fabulous evening!

Windy Gyle 26 March 2016_4

Pete Coe will be calling with Windy Gyle at Sidmouth later this year, which will be another chance to enjoy this fabulous band and caller.

Andy Day.

New Year’s Eve Dance 2016


A very happy New Year to all!

About 170 people helped us to bring in the New Year at Greenhead College in Huddersfield and what a splendid night we had.

But welcoming the New Year is, for us, not yet finished. Over the first six days of January there are four opportunities to join us when the Long Company Mummers perform their play and the gathered revellers celebrate the new year with an evening of music and song and even a bit of step dancing.  Look at the events page for details and directions.

An Independent Folk Development Project in the Ryburn Valley