Hastings trio dancing for joy

Morris dancers SUS-150408-082631001
Morris dancers SUS-150408-082631001

Three Morris dancers from Hastings are celebrating after sweeping the board in the jig competitions at a national folk festival.

Students, and identical twins, Rhys and Owain Boorman danced the jigs, as Bryony Leech, a local teacher, played the fiddle for them.

Rhys came second in the single jig national competition, in which individual dancers perform, beaten by his brother Owain, and the two then won the double jig competition, in which two dancers perform.

They were taking part in the John Gasson memorial jig competitions held as part of Sidmouth Folk Week in Devon.

It is recognised as one of the highest achievements in Morris dancing in the country and attracts entries from the most accomplished dancers.

Owain said : “This was the first time I had taken part in the solo competition, and I was so pleased to win.”

“Rhys, who choreographed the double jig, added: “Sidmouth is really big in the folk world, and it was fantastic to win the double jig competition. We are really grateful to Bryony for her superb fiddle playing for us.”

Bryony said: “Although I have been to Sidmouth before, I’ve not played in the jig competition, and it was quite an experience. I certainly hadn’t expected to win three medals!”

All three are members of local Morris side Mad Jacks, who play a key role in the big Jack in the Green Festival.

The side were out dancing this week as part of the Old Town Carnival celebrations.

Bryony Leech is continuing a folk legacy - her father Keith Leech is the founder of Jack in the Green and still dances with Mad Jacks.

In the past he has taken part in the Sidmouth jig competition himself.

Mad Jacks Morris have both a men’s and women’s side and welcome new dancers and musicians. They have danced in and around Hastings since being formed in 1976 and dance a Southern style of Morris known as Cotswold.

Mad Jacks are named after a local eccentric, Mad Jack Fuller who was the Squire of the village of Brightling during the 18th century and built a number of follies .

The side practice every Monday (except in August) in Hastings Old Town at St. Clement’s Church Hall, Croft Road at 8pm. Contact Mary Phillips on 01424 714706 or at maryphillips77@hotmail.co.uk

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