Who By Fire

Who by Fire by Leonard Cohen

To the surprise of the pianist, this was one of the songs I requested for a friend’s memorial service. He was a big Cohen fan. He agreed to play it but as the first song of the Prelude. I guess he didn’t want to bring people down at a “Celebration of Life.”

Barbara Herring teaches this dance regularly and will share it while she’s in Vancouver.

Here’s some background if you’re interested in this song/prayer.



Beltane, Maypoles and Labyrinths

Maypole Mayhem may morph to magical moments

I discovered our maypole in the basement at the Unitarian Church, and haven’t looked back! Here’s a good article about the connections between Beltane (May Day), Maypole Dancing and Labyrinth Walking/Dancing.

The view looking up as the weaving began.

Here are some photos of us dancing outdoors on Sunday, April 16, 2017. What fun!

The Maypole in the centre courtyard at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver–ready for dancing. It was windy, so although we didn’t light candles, we used them to hold down the scarves on the table top.

Thanks to Anne Catherine and Andre for facilitating dances around the Maypole (technically “Aprilpole”) and on our garden labyrinth. Wonderful to have these cross-Canada connections.

We did more Maypole dancing on Tuesday May 2 7 – 9 pm and on Sunday morning April 30. For people who have never danced (or even watched) maypole dancing, a key concept is: Once you start, you always continue in the same direction.

At the evening circle dance, we went through a sequence that helps people get the basics before trying their hands– and feet– at weaving.

I emphasized our circle dance mantra: There are no wrong steps only variations and encouraged people to do whatever they liked with their feet: skipping; waltzing; just walking! I think that helped them pay attention to their hands where wrong “steps” can become a bit of a problem.

I selected appropriate music (May Song; Lady of the Season’s Laughter; Huron Beltane Fire Dance; We are the Weavers; We are the Web) and then either played it twice or spliced it in the middle with a pause to mark the unwinding part.

  1. Barber pole: We started by just all going in the same direction all together. And then unwound.

2. Then half the people went into the centre. Those people went clockwise while the outer circle went counterclockwise.

It helps to start with people facing a partner and then ask the people facing in one direction to step in. Tell them, they’ll be staying in the centre for this dance. No weaving yet! And then we unwound.

3. Finally we did the weave/plait pattern. and unwound.

People were pretty pleased with themselves. It’s easier than it looks to unwind. Even if there were a few errors — over instead of under — you just look up and can see whether your next move is over or under.

Before unwinding, I joked, “If we did the weaving perfectly, we should be able to do the unweaving perfectly.” Everyone laughed as they knew it wasn’t perfect!

4. THEN I asked the group if they were willing to try an experiment. I adapted “Bells of Norwich”. Basically instead of going back and forth for the first two patterns, you continue on and weave as you go. Half the group going clockwise and half counter-clockwise. We stop weaving and form a circle, at the part where we “ring out” by rocking forward and back and then in our own little circle turning around to “all shall be well again”.  Because it’s a familiar–and much loved–dance, people really got into it. Not sure it would work as well if people didn’t already know the standard dance, although it probably doesn’t matter if they’re doing the right steps, just so long as we’re all ringing out together and turning together.

Tread Gently with the animals in the centre.

Our circle dance mentor Corinne remarked that other dances could be adapted to do around the maypole. I’ll look forward to hearing if you do that. Next year!

The Source (Mummers’ Dance) by Loreena McKennitt

And in case you’re enthusiastic but have “missed” May…  In Scandinavian traditions they dance around a tree or pole for midsummer (summer solstice), so the re can be Junepoles as well as Maypoles and Aprilpoles!

Then at GLAD on Thursday, May 18 11 am – 1 pm we painted the base of the maypole. The black PVC pipe has white markings on it–rather institutional. So I think brown like bark and then flowers on the top of the table. We’re considering whether duct tape or ribbon might be better than paint, so it doesn’t rub off on the ribbon.

Dancing the Labyrinth

On April 16, 2017, (Easter Sunday) sixteen people danced the pilgrim step (3 forward; 1 back) to music of Greensleeves on our double processional labyrinth: eight people starting from each end.

It’s the most number of people who have been on the labyrinth at any one time.

I hope to change that on Worldwide Labyrinth Day May 6: Walk as One at One.

Interested in labyrinth walking/dancing or maypole dancing? Contact me at circledancekitsilano@gmail.com if you’re interested.

I have more information about labyrinths at my art website http://marybennett.net – There’s a page and also posts, so just search “labyrinth” and you should find lots of images and information.


Tread Gently with children and others in centre being deer, fish, birds and phoenix!

The Source and The Mummers’ Dance by Loreena McKennitt

We danced “The Source” dance that goes to the music The Mummers’ Dance by Loreena McKennitt.

First we danced the one choreographed by Joka Veurboom from the Netherlands, and then we used the same music to dance around our Maypole.

Here are the springtime lyrics.

“The Mummers’ Dance”
When in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair

When owls call the breathless moon
In the blue veil of the night
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst the lantern light

We’ve been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
We bring a garland gay

Who will go down to those shady groves
And summon the shadows there
And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms
In the springtime of the year

The songs of birds seem to fill the wood
That when the fiddler plays
All their voices can be heard
Long past their woodland days

And so they linked their hands and danced
Round in circles and in rows
And so the journey of the night descends
When all the shades are gone

“A garland gay we bring you here
And at your door we stand
It is a sprout well budded out
The work of Our Lord’s hand”

Here’s the reference to the traditional verse:

In the North of England it was formerly the custom for young people to rise very early on the morning of the first of May, and go out with music into the woods, where they broke branches, and adorned them with nosegays, and crowns of flowers. This done, they returned about sunrise, and fastened the flower-decked branches over the doors and windows of their liouses. At Abingdon in Berkshire, young people formerly went about in groups on May morning, singing a carol, of which the following are two of the verses : —

” We ‘ve been ramblin- all this night,

And some time of this day ;

And now returning back again,

We bring a garland gay. ”

A garland gay we bring you here,

And at your door we stand.

It is a sprout well budded out,

The work of our Lord’s hand.”

from: https://archive.org/stream/mayerstheirsongo00geriuoft/mayerstheirsongo00geriuoft_djvu.txt

from wikipedia:

Although the main season for mumming throughout Britain was around Christmas, some parts of England had plays performed around All Souls’ Day (known as Souling or soul-caking) or Easter (Pace-egging or Peace-egging). In north-eastern England the plays are traditionally associated with Sword dances or Rapper dances.


Here’s the Mummers’ Song by Great Big Sea.

Before next December, I’ll be wanting a circle dance for this. Here are the lyrics:

Hark, what’s the noise out by the porch door?
Dear Granny, there’s mummers, there’s twenty or more.
Her old weathered face lightens up with a grin.
Any mummers, nice mummers ‘lowed in?

Ah, come in lovely mummers, don’t bother the snow,
We’ll wipe up the water sure after you go.
And sit if you can upon some mummer’s knee.
We’ll see if we knows who ye be.

Ah, there’s big ones and small ones, tall ones and thin,
There’s boys dressed as women and girls dressed as men,
With humps on their backs and mitts on their feet,
My blessed we’ll die with the heat.

Well, there’s only one here that I think that I know,
That tall fellow standing alongside the stove.
He’s shaking his fist for to make me not tell.
Must be Willy from out on the hill.

Ah, but that one’s a stranger, if ever was one
With his underwear stuffed and his trapdoor undone.
Is he wearing his mother’s big forty-two bra?
I knows, but I’m not going to say.

Well, I suppose you fine mummers would turn down a drop
Of home brew or alky, whatever you got.
That one with his rubber boots on the wrong feet
Ate enough for to do him all week.

Now I suppose you can dance? Sure they all nod their heads.
They’ve been tapping their feet ever since they came in.
And now that the drinks have been all passed around,
Sure the mummers are plankin’ ‘er down.

(Instrumental break – Bob plays one verse of Deck the Halls on the fiddle)

Ah, be careful the lamp! Now hold on to the stove.
Don’t you swing Granny hard, ’cause you know that she’s old.
And never you mind how you buckles the floor
‘Cause the mummers have danced here before.

Oh my God, how hot is it? We’ll never know.
Allows that we’ll all get the devil’s own cold.
Good night and good Christmas, mummers me dears
Please God, we will see you next year

Ah, good night and good Christmas, mummers me dears
Please God, we will see you next year

Please God, we will see you next year.

Loreena McKennitt Covers:
Chronilus with bellydance troupe Raqs Nocturna performing at Seattle’s Pocket Theatre, 2015
Arcana Eco interpretando The Mummer`s Dance de Loreena McKennitt en vivo desde el estudio de KLA 91.7, Mar del Plata, Junto a Gustavo Pitrau.
a capella

An Dro Retourne

French Folk Dance: An Dro Retourne

from: http://folkdancemusings.blogspot.ca/2014/01/an-dro-retournechanj-tu-brittany.html

We’re dancing this with Anne Catherine and Andre tomorrow. New for me.

I had a hard time finding it at first as I was looking for Andro rather than An dro.

Wikipedia tells me: An dro or en dro (Breton: “The Turn”) is a Breton folk dance in 4
. It is a form of a circle dance.

Personally not fond of linking pinky fingers nor of “rolling” arms and hands. But I’ll try to keep an open mind.


At a bal there will be several lines forming, with the leader leading his/her line in some pattern. The leader (person at the left-hand end of the line) will lead the line into a spiral or double it back on itself to form patterns on the dance floor, and allow the dancers to see each other.

An dros often have songs associated with them, and these are usually sung as a verse-chorus or call-response, with the leader singing the verses or calls. The musicians will sometimes play from the middle of the dance floor, and the dancers will then often form a spiral around them.

I wonder if we could do this in two lines on the labyrinth??


J’ai neuf ou dix moutons dans mon ménage en haut
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Welcome Soleil


Jim et Bertrand
Paroles de la chanson « Welcome soleil »

Bye bye nuages welcome soleil
Je t’ai attendu toute la journée
Y a du travail icitte pour toé
Si t’es pas trop pressé de partir

Une pluie toute fraîche a nettoyer
Deux tout petits cœurs a réchauffer
Des gens sur a plage a colorer
Brun foncé ou rouge brûler

Si en plus de tout ça tu veux bien
Sécher ma portion de colombien
Je te donnerai de quoi manger
Des larmes d’amoureux attristés

Bye bye soleil a demain matin
J’organise un pique-nique party
J’ai invité tous les amis
Leur disant que tu y serais aussi

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