Poldark S4 premieres tonight on BBC One, taking viewers to the end of the 18th Century. It also marks less than 3 months to go until the second Dances of Poldark Weekend!
Last year was the inaugural Dances of Poldark Weekend at Halsway Manor in Taunton, home to the National Centre for Folk Arts. For two and a half days, Stuart Marsden taught us dances from BBC’s Poldark S1-2, as well as dances from the Georgian and Regency era. In addition to having the Poldark choreographer teach us, we had live music performed by the Warleggan Village Band: Matthew Coatsworth (violin), Richard Heacock (violin), and Chris Green (guitar). You can listen to their CD (Haste to the Dance) but there’s something magical about hearing live music bounce off the walls.
Of all the dances we learned, I found the wedding dance of Elizabeth and Francis (Cupid’s Bow?) the hardest. The music is beautiful but for some reason, I could not keep up with the beat. My favourite, on the other hand, was Fete de Village (when Ross and Elizabeth dance together):
I loved how Stuart helped us feel like we were characters or background actors in Poldark. I think we all danced very well and enjoyed ourselves.
Finally, I was so glad I could experience Maypole dancing (also realised how easy it is to get tangled). Thank you for the surprise, Stuart!
This late 15th – 19th Century manor is definitely worth exploring when you have some free time.
Where you’ll Dance
You will spend the majority of the day rehearsing and learning in the ballroom / dining room.
Where you’ll Stay
I was lucky to have the loveliest shared bedroom (3 beds, non-ensuite) within the manor.
Alternatively, there is the Mews (or was it called the Coach House?) diagonally across the manor which has ensuite bedrooms.
What to Wear
You can wear comfortable clothes during the day but there will be ‘Balls’ in the evening so bring something Georgian, Regency or something contemporary!
For those of you who missed out on getting a spot, do not give up hope. My friend and I managed to each get a bed around July because of two cancellations. Worst case, you may have to stay elsewhere but may still get to take dance classes during the weekend.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my friends Genevieve and Libby (Mrs Bennet) for persevering in getting me to attend last year. If Genevieve hadn’t called up to check for extra spaces and if Libby hadn’t sacrificed her shared bedroom (which was clearly a dream room), I doubt I would have been able to attend. I had one of the best times in my life and came out a stronger Regency dancer. So thank you, thank you very much!