What an amazing competition! The variety, depth and interpretation of the jigs of the different traditions was great to watch.
It was a journey through the ages; the youngest entrant was 15 and as the dancers progressed in years it was wonderful to see how they had matured, taking on board judges’ comments over the years and for some reaping the rewards of winning. Watching the dancer and musician blend as one as they worked together bringing life to the dance was magical.
The Best New Entrant – Kate McQuillian (who hadn’t danced a jig before May) danced a self-penned jig with Jerry West playing.
The Audience Appeal prize went to Graham Lee with Paul Bryan playing for the Ilmington Broom Dance which had been handed down through the generations. The audience was holding its breath willing Graham to get through the dance without dropping the broom.
The Best Over 40 prize went to Simon Pipe who danced a double jig with his daughter Molly Pipe with Mark Rogers playing. Simon is actually over 50 and is a superb dancer who has supported the competition over many years winning the solo cup 5 times.
The Doubles award went to Simon and Molly Pipe with musician Mark Rogers for The Flowing Dance which is a beautiful dance.
The Solo Jig award was won by Toby Melville with his father Jon as musician. It was a wonderful interpretation of Jockey to the Fair.
The competition was live streamed around the world and watched by previous entrants in America, Japan and Australia.
One of the many great quotes of the day was “In a world of much negativity the John Gasson Jig Competition is the place of positivity and peer to peer support which is the most important event of the year in the Morris calendar and in so many people’s lives”. The competition is now older than John Gasson was when he died at the age of 29 on the way to Sidmouth Festival – long may it continue to raise the standard and recognition of Jig dancing.
(Photo Credit: Ben Potton)