What Do the Simple Folk Do?

This educational, participatory program for all ages answers the question once asked in Camelot, “What do the simple folk do?” The answer: They sing and dance for pleasure. Many of the songs and dances performed in the 16th century by the country folk had been adopted by the nobility by the early 17th century, so these forms of entertainment crossed the class barrier.

Wearing a colorful, beribboned dance costume, Tames Alan, an actress, historian, and dancer, gives a short talk about the pleasures of English country dancing and the singing of rounds. She then teaches the audience how to properly greet each other before teaching a simple English country folkdance called *Gathering Peascods*, a circle dance for as many as will. The program is interspersed with historical anecdotes, the singing of *Rose Red*, and the Renaissance version of *God Save the Queen*, which can be sung as rounds. The audience will also learn a question song, *If All the World Were Paper*, and a drinking song, *God Bless the Human Elbow*. As with all of Tames’ programs, there will be a question-and-answer period at the end.

Please note: If there are very small children, Tames will teach them a simplified version of *Gathering Peascods*, play a Medieval skipping game, and do a very simple second Medieval bransel (pronounced “brawl”) dance called *Peas Porridge*. She will also include the story of *Dick Whittington and His Cat*. If the children are extremely young, they’ll play *London Bridge Is Falling Down* and *Ring Around the Rosy* and learn the historical background to both games. If the audience is older, they’ll dance *Gathering Peascods* in full form in time to the music, as well as sing the songs. Program length is 1 hour.

Tames has had a passion for dance most of her life. She has trained and performed in a variety of dance styles all over the West Coast. Throughout her performing career, she danced with the Oregon State Ballet, Newcastle English Country Dancers, the Veil of Isis Dancers (Middle Eastern with an emphasis on modern Egyptian), Elliott Bay Morris Dancers, and the Ballard Locks Long Sword Team. She is an avid contra dancer and enjoys waltzing and swing dancing with her husband.

Tames studied theater and history at Willamette University in Oregon, and theater at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and Dell Arte School in California. More recently, she has been a speaker for the Washington State Commission for the Humanities in their Inquiring Minds series.