May Bal 2006 

The recent 10th Anniversary celebrations began with a Petit Bal on Friday evening. The club musicians, including long-standing and new members, started the proceedings with an hour-long set of tunes for over a dozen different French dances. Later, Norwich based Thievin’ Crows played their first official Bal and went down a storm. The band, most of who have played together in sessions for several years (currently at Coldham Hall, Surlingham), played an interesting and danceable set of tunes and songs –including a Breton gavotte and the processional Montagnard from Central France. The dancers appreciated the band’s innovative use of a flipchart to forewarn them of which dance to do! 


Saturday began with a workshop for musicians led by Steve Ellis and Geoff Beilby. Steve had written a new waltz ‘Trowse Meadow’ especially for the event and this, as well as a schottische and a mazurka (also by Steve) were learnt by the group of accordion, recorder and guitar players. Useful tips were given on how to play as an ensemble and for dancers. Lunchtime; and some of the musicians repaired to the Duke of Wellington for a session, which included some tunes on the traditional Swedish nykelharpa. In the afternoon Steve Ellis and Marion Ludwig led a dance workshop, teaching a five-time waltz and some interesting Zwiefache dances (irregular waltz types from north-east France and the Alsace). They also taught some couple dance variations and a Courante; an elegant Branle style dance from renaissance France.

Saturday evening saw the Grand Bal and ‘Ultraviolet’ (Steve Ellis, Geoff Beilby and Marion Ludwig) entertained with their own original French style tunes on accordions, clarinet, flute, recorder and guitar. Halfway through the evening an extra treat was provided by Frank Vickers, Paddy Shaw and Nick Carpenter from the popular Norwich band ‘Xim’ and all long-standing/founder members of Pied à Terre. They played a contrasting style of tunes with their rhythmic bourrées and groovy scottisches on gurdy, pipes and accordion. Visiting band ‘Pach Pi’ – Daniel Wolverson (also a founder member of P à T), Ravi Sawney and Mike Gulston – also performed an intimate set of interesting tunes on fiddles, guitar and vocals and included a lilting Swedish polska, some Breton an dros and hanter dros and lively Auvergne style bourrées.  

Pach Pi doing a guest spot

The weekend was rounded off with a session at The Shed at lunchtime on Sunday.