And Sometimes Y, a Manx dancing team, is trying to visit the Isle of Man to connect with the culture and bring new dances back home.
A Bit of Background
And Sometimes Y Manx, Morris & Sword is a youth folk dance team based in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. ASY performs dances from many traditions and cultures, but are most noted for our Manx dancing, a Celtic tradition from the Isle of Man. Manx dancing is a very old form of folk dance traditionally associated with the celebration of fertility, agriculture, and the earth. These dances have been kept alive for centuries, but were not danced by anyone in North America until the Manx groupPerree Bane
taught them to ASY’s teacher David Nixon in 2009 and 2010.
Members of ASY spend the fall and winter months preparing the dances for May 1st, when we participate in the tradition of dancing up the sun and continue on to perform at various cultural festivals. We then begin a series of local tours, bringing these dances to small and large audiences alike. We have attended a number of ales, which are gatherings of Morris and folk dancers, including the Harvest Ale in the Pioneer Valley, the Ginger Ale in Boston, and the Marlboro Ale in Marlboro, VT. At these events, we perform dances for free to crowds of onlookers, bringing them into the many years of traditional spring celebrations.
The Isle of Man is an incredibly culturally rich place, teeming with history of all sorts. We have begun fundraising to take a 10-day cultural exchange visit there in the beginning of July 2013, if all works out. While on the island, we will learn dances directly from the people who have been keeping them alive, attend traditional Tynwald Day celebrations, explore the countryside, and hopefully perform our own renditions of Manx dances. We hope to make this trip the beginning of an ongoing cultural exchange, so that the traditions and dances can continue to be brought over to North America by future members of And Sometimes Y and connections can be more fully established.
The Fundraiser Thus Far
While it is a very significant part, Kickstarter is only a portion of ASY’s fundraiser. Some other ways we have been raising money include:
- Working as the kitchen and cleanup crew for a local Burns Night dinner
- Beginning a quilt raffle for a quilt that will be sewn by team member Rose and her mother Mary
- A wonderfully successful benefit contra called by David Kaynor on February 22nd, which brought in $1500!
- A planned benefit Manx-themed dinner, complete with dancing
- A performance at a local high school’s Cultural Festival, which allowed us to introduce Manx dances to a community we rarely interact with
ASY was also recently featured on the front page of the local Daily Hampshire Gazette, and in the Greenfield Recorder, Amherst Bulletin, and a few other papers. A link to the article can be found here
And Sometimes Y’s Kickstarter goal is only a portion of the expenses that are expected for the trip. If our project is successfully funded for $10,000, we can send a set of six dancers and one musician to the Isle of Man. However, we’d like to send as many dancers as possible, and six is a tiny fraction of our nearly twenty-person team. If we surpass our goal and make it to $20,000, we can send the entire team and bring back many more dances.
We are estimating approximately $2,300 per person for the 10-day trip, and are constantly trying to come up with more ideas for fundraising. If there are not enough funds available for an entire side of dancers and a musician to go the summer of 2013, there is potential for the trip to be pushed back a year. However, the aim is to travel this coming summer, and ASY is working to make that a reality.
After the funds are successfully raised and this project funded, there are all sorts of logistical details that need to be ironed out. Buying plane tickets, booking campsites, solidifying plans with Manx contacts, acquiring transportation, etc. However, ASY is lucky enough to have a teacher who has been to the Isle of Man in the past and can help them through these decisions. Our greatest challenge will be to organize the materials, so that an accurate and thorough record of dances can be collected and preserved. We expect to transcribe dances and use video to create a lasting record, so that we may practice and perform them in the United States.