May Day dances
Dance Location: Outdoors in Martinkov, Czech Republic
This is a dance that... is a bit like Morris dancing.
I grew up with ballroom, waltz and polka in the Czech Republic, but when I was 12 or 13, I was part of a folk group. We practiced in the village hall for a dance on May Day and, I think, on the 23rd August. I can’t remember why that date.
The folk dance is a bit like Morris dancing, with hops, steps and handkerchiefs. It was a group of us. Like Morris dancing it was all different ages, boys and girls. Nowadays when you go dancing you don’t get many boys. There were around 15 of us in my group. People travelled to learn that dance. There was something historical and established. They’re still dancing it…
It’s a dance that sits in the heart. I felt happy, definitely happy. The dance took place in the centre of the village, in a massive space, on the grass. You’d start getting ready in the morning. 10.30am first dance, midday, and then two o'clock.
I don’t have pictures unfortunately. We wore traditional costume. White skirt, white top with a puffy sleeve. Each group had a different apron for the skirt. I had two plaits and a red ribbon and white socks up to here. Red and blue shoes. You had to wash the costume and put starch on it
From age six I knew I wanted to be a dancer. When I was eight I’d done a lovely choreographic piece of work. I went to a local community centre and said "I’ve got this dance – can I dance it for you?". I went without my mum. I told them I'd show them the dance first and then they could tell my mum.
Two years ago I did a project with Bradford dance network. There were people from five or six different cultural backgrounds. I taught them the May Day dance. It was weird to try to remember it after so many years. I had to go online to find it.
I love being a dancer. There was so many times I wanted to give up - it’s really hard to make a career. But when you say you want to give up, you’re giving up you. So I’ll keep dancing no matter what…