Taking Steps is a project, working in partnership with Dartmoor Folk Festival, to research the Dartmoor stepdancing tradition and bringing it to a wider audience. There will be stepdancing events where you can find out about the tradition, as well as workshops in schools and for adults. A website is being created which will contain an archive of information, as well as the tunes used and online stepdancing lessons.
Before the Second World War there were a lot of competitions on the Moor, but the war stopped them, and afterwards there were never so many and it seems they stopped altogether before the 1960s. In 1978 the famous Dartmoor musician, Bob Cann, set up The Dartmoor Folk Festival to preserve the folk traditions on and around Dartmoor. He was especially keen to keep stepdancing alive, and reintroduced the stepdance competition, which still runs each August in South Zeal.
One of the festival organisers and stepdancer is Jason Rice, whose grandfather Jack Rice from Chagford, was a musician, stepdancer and judge at step dance competitions. We have the names of many other dancers but don’t know any more about them – maybe you are related to one of them and can tell us more or have a photograph of them. We are interested in memories and photos.