Page 37 - "It is Wrong, Wrong to Dance"?? An Introduction to Cheticamp-Area Dance Prohibition with Folklorist Barbara LeBlanc
ISSUE : Issue 51
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1989/1/1
It Is Wrong, Wrong to Dance... An Introduction to Cheticamp-Area Dance Prohibition with Folklorist Barbara LeBlanc (Was dance an important part of your own life, growing up, there in the Cheticamp area?) Not tra? ditional dance, because we moved away from Cheticamp when I was 4. And we lived in Anglophone communities. So my experience of dance has been what most people my age's experience would have been, in communities like New Waterford or Glace Bay or Syd? ney. So it would be the music that would have been popular, you know, when I was a teenager or young child. I wouldn't have lived, myself personally, in an environment where I would have been doing traditional dance. So it's not from that perspective that I'm coming at all. The reason that I got interested in dance was because I had been away from Canada for so long-- almost 10 years--and when I came back I had an interest in know? ing more about my culture after having spent so many years away from it, and learning about other cultures. And so I had taken a course (with Sally Ross)--I followed a course with her at Dalhousie" in Halifax, and it was on Acadian culture. And within her program we had to prepare some work. And so I chose to look at mu? sic, song, and dance. And when I did that, I found lots of mate? rial on song: for instance, Pfere Anselme (Chiasson)'s books--you know, the 7 vol? umes . And of course at the archives in Moncton there was all kinds of information about song. Music--of course, there was plenty of information about music, because basically you find two types of music in the Acadian communities--the one that's attached to the songs, so it's definitely French songs, music from that area. And then there's the music that's attached to the dance, which is definitely from the Scottish and Irish tradition. You can't call that, you know, a French influence there in fiddle music. And when I looked at dance (itself), there was nothing. And even when I went to the archives in Moncton, they had nothing. (There was nothing to look for.) No. Well, I found out afterwards, there was nothing to look for in looking. So that's what really developed, then, into a pursuit of information among the people. Because I didn't find anything in the institutions.... What I call traditional. I found song dances--what they call in French les rondes. So those would be dances that have words. For example, "La Boulang're," "Les Moutons," "L'Escaouette"--those are the three that come off the top of my head. But there's about 9 that I found when I was doing my research in that area, that were song dances. And so that's one form that I call traditional dance. And then another form of traditional dance was dances that would have been being danced in the later part of the last cen? tury. And I found three. But I found those through a woman whose name is Simonne Voy- er from Montreal, who in the 1950s came down to Cheticamp. And she got the name of a family from Pfere Anselme. And so she asked the lady (in the 1950s) , and the lady knew she was coming to visit. So the lady called--well, wouldn't have been telephones, I suppose, but got in touch with the neighbours and had 8 people come over. And they danced for her these three dances, which are called "La Patate Longue"--"The Long Potato"--"Le Reel ' Quatre"--"The 4-Handed Reel"--and "Le Reel k Huit"--"The 8-Handed Reel." And so they danced those dances for her, and she took notation of it, in her way. And then later at home was able to make a good notation of those three dances.... So that would be another category of traditional dances from the Cheticamp area.
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