Broom Stick Dance
Danced by Evan Trick, Boscastle (1981). E Thompson wrote the following article in the 1931—36 Old Cornwall Society magazine, in relation to the Goldhys (Harvest Festival) at North Hill: "…I must not forget to mention the dance over the Broomstick. This is most interesting especially if someone is present with a concertina. The dance, I think it is to the tune of So Early In The Morning. It's fine when you hear the heavy boots beating a tattoo on the stone floors, as the dancers first lift one leg then the other, to pass the broomstick from hand to hand, as if they were weaving. What a wonderful time too. As the dance proceeds the musician plays faster and faster and the dancers have to dance faster. It is a marvel how these men, some big and well built, can jump so nimbly as they do in this dance." The Broom Stick dance described here is from Evan Trick of Boscastle. He explained that it was performed as a competition between dancers.
Two dancers, facing each other, holding either end of a broomstick, dancer ‘A’ anddancer ‘B’.
Step (BASIC STEP)
The basic step for this dance goes as follows, Right foot is crossed over left and (still hopping on left foot) tapped:
1. Beside the left foot
2. In front and to the left of the left foot
3. To the right of the left foot
4. Stepping finally on both feet at once side by side.
1 — 4 Both dancers begin with the basic step (as detailed above) repeated four times.
5 — 8 Dancer ‘A’ now does eight steps over the broom stick, weaving the stick under and over
alternate legs while dancer ‘B’ repeats basic step as per bars 1—4 above.
9 — 12 Dancer ‘B’ repeats bars 5 — 8 whilst ‘A’ does the basic step.
13 — 16 Dancer ‘A’ now turns slowly using the basic step and passing the stick from hand to
hand behind back. The turn should be to the right in a square shape, with one step facing
east, one facing south, one facing west and then one to face your partner again. You
should pass the broom stick behind your back to do this step.
17 — 20 Dancer ‘B’ turns while ‘A’ does the basic step
21 — 22 (KICK STEP) As collected, dancer ‘A’ would go down on their haunches (see Lattapuch) to do this
next step. However, most Cornish dancers now use a similar step as seen in Mrs
Parkyn’s Jig, kicking the right then left heels out alternately.
23 — 24 Dancers ‘A’ and ‘B’ both turn under the broom stick.
25 — 26 Dancer 'B' repeats bars 21 — 22 whilst dancer ‘A’ does the basic step.
27 — 28 Repeat bars 23 — 24
29 — 32 Dancers finish doing the same basic four steps they started with.
There is another section to the dance which is no longer performed now, but was very much a part of the dance as it was collected. The entire dance as notated above would be repeated, but rather than the basic step, the dancers would perform the weaving step as the base step throughout the dance. This would increase the difficulty of the dance as it progressed.
There is no set tune for this dance. Here we suggest ‘We Be’, a traditional tune collected by Ralph Dunstan in “Cornish Dialect and Folk Song”, 1932, from a Mr Piper of St Austell. The second part of the tune is by Merv Davey. See Cornish National Music Archive for more about this tune and other variations.