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Fer Lyskerys / Liskeard Fair



BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Informant

Reconstructed from references in Allens History of Liskeard Baring Gould's MSS and Cecil Sharp's MSS. Liskeard Fair days (originally St Mathews Feast, St Marys and Ascension Day were granted by Richard Earl of Cornwall in 1266. Allen's 'History of Liskeard' makes several references to these fair days, where there were processions to music around the town that terminated with a dance on the 'frolic green'. In this form the feast days would have apparently died out by 1810, although a revival was attempted in 1856. The drunken revelry associated with these feasts was disapproved of by the establishment who, for example, described the Maypole at Baytree Hill as, "yet another device to promote intemperance and idleness". The tune above is found in Baring Gould's manuscripts for 'Songs of the West'. It was apparently collected from Mr Nichol on 29th May 1891. In the MSS the tune is partly in 6/8 and partly in 2/4 with the last two bars used as a refrain. It has been reconstructed as a 16 bar furry (2/4) repeated four times to complete the dance. As far as reconstructing the dance is concerned, it was felt reasonable to assume a furry dance step as used elsewhere in Cornwall on similar occasions. References in Allen's 'History Of Liskeard' suggest that there were processions around the district on feast days involving music, begging for cider or beer, people on horseback and so on. Dances are recorded as taking place on the green, so it was therefore inferred that the dance was set rather than processional. This is reinforced to some extent by Cecil Sharps notes on the Grampound Furry (Folk dance Notes volume III) where the procession halted from time to time in order to perform a set dance. The moves for the dance have been borrowed from the Quadrilles popular in Cornwall's stately homes during the nineteenth century and frequently adapted to traditional music by the 'common populace'. DANCE NOTATIONS Formation

Four couple square set with lady to right of partner Step

'One two three hop' step throughout. Hold

Gentleman holds partner's hand at or just below shoulder level fairly close so that fore arms are just touching. Bars (A)

1 2

Head couples moving at same time take one step to face couple on their left and one step backwards to the opposite side of dance (thus changing places) 3 4

Side couples repeat 1 2 5 8

Couples form a wheel by men (still holding partners hand)placing their left hand on the shoulder of the man in front. Dance around once. (B)

9 16

Repeat 1 8 but remain in `wheel` formation (A)

17 20

Head couples only, men join hands and all take one step to first lady's right then one step to her left, then turn partners right hands to places. 21 24

Side couples repeat 17 20, but step to second lady's right. (B)

25 32

Grand ladies chain, i.e. all ladies to centre, right hand star half way round, left hand turn with opposite man, right hand star again and turn partner left hand to places. This dance is usually repeated once more but setting to first lady's and second lady's left respectively in bars 17 20 and 21 24 in order to logically complete the cycle. TUNE/SONG The suggested tune for this dance is Fer Lyskerys. click here to play the midi file click here for the noteworthy file