In 2000 the members of Cornish Youth Dance group Tan Ha Dowr (Fire and Water) engaged in a recording project to capture the sounds and rhythms of Cornish dance. The project featured Cornish Scoot (step) dance where the percussive sound of hard shoes creates a conversation with musician and tune. The group members were aged between 14 and 17 years: Dan Phipps, Keyboard; Sam Lyward, sax and flute; Josie Warden, flute; Faith Coles, fiddle; Cas Davey, guitar and D’jembe; Jah Hemmings Bass; and Jojo Davey flute and whistle. Percussion was also provided by the dancers: Josie Warde, Nicola Morgan, Solena George, Jojo Davey and Jo Hayduk. Neil Davey and Hilary Coleman helped with arrangements and together with John Coles on the production. The sound engineer was John Coles of Kernow Sound and the mastering was done by Kyt Le Nen Davey of Kesson Studios.
Scoot dancing is named after the metal plate used on the toe and heel of working shoes to prolong their life called “Scoots” or “Scutes” in 19th Century Cornish dialect see Fred W.P. Jago, The Ancient Language and the Dialect of Cornwall, (Truro, Netherton and Worth, 1882) . In 1808, 11th June, the Royal Cornwall Gazette carried an article called The Holidays which reported on the step dance competitions held at Illogan for the Whitsuntide feast. There are similar reports in the Cornish press through-out the 19th century sometimes listing the winners.
The Devon and Cornwall reported social events in Boscastle featuring step dances and some of the tunes were recorded for BBC by Richard Dimbleby in 1943 (BBC Sound Archive 6796 and 6918). It continued to be a popular entertainment in the inter war years and people like Arthur Biddick (erstwhile bandmaster at Boscastle) taught the dances to a new generation in the 1970s and 1980s. For further information see: Merv Davey, Alison Davey, Jowdy Davey. Scoot Dances, Troyls, Furrys and Tea Treats: The Cornish Dance Tradition, (London: Francis Boutle & Co, 2009); and Jowdy Davey. Catch Up Your Heels, (Withiel, An Daras Cornish Folk Arts Project, 2003).
Traditional Dance Tunes:
Boscastle Breakdown: Trad
Blue Bonnets: Trad (Broom Dance)
Whip the Cats: Trad (Broom Stick Dance)
Can Scoswas / Squires Song: Trad (Broom Stick Dance)
Plethen a Beswar / Four Hand Reel: Trad
Cock in Britches: Trad (Harvest Dance)
Truro Agricultural Show: Trad (Old Hand in Hand Dance)
Tin Stamp & Resyas
Anfinedh: Katie Lawrence
Arrangements and compositions:
Hard Rock Miner: Merv Davey (Steren a Beswar – Four Star)
Plethen a Bemp / Five hand Reel: Jojo Davey
Estren / The Stranger: Trad
Ryb an Avon: Trad
Trelva: Neil Davey
Harvey Darvey: Trad & Gwary Fleghes: Jojo Davey (Scoot Dance)
Tregajorran Furry: Neil Davey (Furry Dance)