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A new music and dance project inspired by staff parties of English country estates
January 30, 2020 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

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January 30, 2020
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
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The Museum of English Rural Life
The Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road
Reading, Berkshire RG1 5EX United Kingdom
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members of the servants ball band standing behind one member of the band on the ground with his boots with nails on soles for step dancing in the foreground

The Servants’ Ball had a long tradition in the country house estates of Britain and only really died out with the onset of the Second World War. They were a cultural melting pot where popular music of the day would be performed alongside traditional country dance tunes. At this event, The Servants’ Ball launch their music and dance project inspired by these parties. Be prepared to sing and dance along!

Stepdancing workshop

5.50 – 6.30pm. Free. Booking required.

Book separately for a free step dance workshop with Ewan Wardrop before the evening performance.

The Servants’ Ball

8.30 – 9.30pm (with pre-performance talk by Reg Hall, 7.30 – 8.15pm.)
Tickets £10 (+£1 booking fee) Book here.

The Servants’ Ball launch their music and dance project inspired by staff parties of English country estates before WW2. Much of the music performed has fallen between the cracks in the years since, the folk song collectors only gathered material which they considered to be of “folk” origin and ignored anything they thought of as popular or written music. Many of these lost tunes are now half remembered as a dusty nursery rhyme melody or something a long gone grandparent might have whistled.

But within this forgotten music lies a cultural scrapbook of British history, old English dance tunes, polkas and quadrilles from Europe, African American banjo music, Victorian music hall, Italian opera, step dance tunes…. a true melting pot.

After a period of research at The MERL and The British Library, ‘The Servant’s Ball’ have taken inspiration from these musicians who knew no boundaries to create an evening of music and dance. Dancer-musician and expert in Sussex/Kent step dancing, Ewan Wardrop features with the Blakey’s hammered into the soles of his shoes percussively tapping a storm through many of the dance tunes alongside music performed by some of Britian’s leading traditional musicians.

The band

This exciting new band brings together some of the UK’s leading musicians – Rob Harbron (Leveret, Full English), Ben Nicholls (Seth Lakeman, Full English), Ben Paley (Tom Paley, Long Hill Ramblers, Damon Albarn), Evan Jenkins (Neil Cowley Trio, Ben Watt), Julian Hinton (Trevor Horn, Seal) and throws them together with dancer/choreographer, Ewan Wardrop (RSC, RNT, Bo Diddlers Morris Side).

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