Sunday 12 August 2018

Levi Jackson's Rag, memories from Annette Dwight

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 Article © Annette Dwight, photos from Annette Dwight collection

In the Folk Revival period of the seventies Bush Dancing became very popular.

Frank Canty started the first Balmain Bush Dance at the Town Hall in 1978 with 2 to 3
sets of people and by the end of the year it was so crowded that it was hard to get in
the door and on the 12th August 1978 the first Bush Music Club Subscription Ball was
held at Ashfield Town Hall. 

Arising from this I was invited by Frank Canty to attend a meeting at Bankstown to
form the Sydney Colonial Dancers as a performance dance group. Practices were
initially held at the Tritton Hall in Marrickville up until 1981 and then when I took over
the running of the group the practice venue moved to St James Hall at Glebe.

The Sydney Colonial Dancers performed every year at the National Folkloric Festival
in the Concert Hall at the Opera house and did outdoor performances on a Sunday
afternoon in the Opera House forecourt. Much fun was also had performing at the
Rocks, Sydney Town Hall and at Folk Festivals.

In 1982 a tall, lanky American visited the Sydney Colonials at our Tuesday night
practices. He was on an extended holiday Down Under and shared our enthusiasm for
dancing. He was keen to learn our repertoire of dances and reciprocated by teaching us
Levi Jackson's Rag. This was completely new to the folk scene in Sydney at the time
and quickly became one of the most popular dances. Now 36 years later it is even
more popular than ever, being included on the dance program of any bush dances
across Australia.

In 1982 the National Folk Festival was held at Sydney University and Bryden Allen
ambitiously got together a group of dancers to perform the marathon dance The
Running Set.
The lanky American who taught us Levi Jackson's Rag joined us and
can be seen in the following photographs with his long baggy red pants, dark hair and
beard. We danced until we dropped.

I'm sure that he would be pleased to know that we still remember the contribution that
he made and the great dance he gifted to us.

The photos show the group who performed The Running Set at the National
Folk Festival in 1982. In the foreground I am the lady in the yellow skirt and white
blouse dancing with the tall American in red pants. Others who can be seen include
Bryden Allen, Paul Weaver, Vernon Verass and Alan Phillips


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