I’ve just had a very inspiring meeting with the head teacher of Crow Orchard Primary School in Skelmersdale about the education element of JigDoll.
It was always the plan to do some local clog workshops alongside the performing of the show, and part of my Arts Council funding was granted to deliver these. After today’s meeting though, it seems that this could turn into a much bigger, cross curriculum project which could potentially be taken to other schools in the area. Clog dancing is particularly relevant to this area, the style of clog that I mainly do is the Lancashire style, there even used to be a clog maker based in Skelmersdale! But sadly, most people here don’t seem to know much about it and I haven’t come across many young clog dancers around here.
So, with the help of the brilliant head teacher from Crow Orchard School and Shares, an organisation who develop and deliver services to the education sector in West Lancashire, I am going to design a project which is centred around clog dancing and the local history of West Lancashire, particularly Skelmersdale. For the pupils this will include seeing how clogs are made and being involved in designing and making a pair, learning about clog dancers who were based in the local area, learning to clog dance (most importantly!) and writing songs about the local area using local traditional tunes.
What I am looking for at the moment are any nuggets of local knowledge or memories about the history of music and dance in West Lancashire – particularly in Skelmersdale itself. These could be in the form of spoken memories, photographs, videos, diaries etc. Basically anything that could feed into the project and create/support a sense of local identity and history for the pupils. Maybe someone even has an old pair of clogs in their attic or knows a local dancer….
I know that there was a brilliant canal boat clog dancer in nearby Burscough called Bill Gibbons, who you can see in this fantastic video, so if anyone knows any more about him or has connections to him that would be fantastic.
I’m really excited about getting this project off the ground, not least because for once I’ll actually be working in my local community for the first time since I moved here! So if you have anything to contribute I would be so grateful.
More info soon, and there will be videos from the first workshops when they happen in April.
Looking forward to hearing from you!