GWERINWYR GWENT WELSH FOLK DANCERS

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History

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Gwerinwyr Gwent was formed in 1976 by eight people from the Gwent area who were interested in reviving the tradition of Welsh folk dancing. The name of the team can be translated as "folk of Gwent".

Our costumes are made from traditional Welsh flannel in a variety of colours and patterns, with of course the famous tall Welsh hat. We wear this hat for one dance, the Llanover Reel, to commemorate Lady Llanover’s efforts to keep Welsh folk music and dancing alive after it had started to decline in the 19th century.

Lady Llanover(1802-1896), was married to Benjamin Hall who, as Commissioner for Works for the Houses of Parliament gave his name to the bell ‘Big Ben’. She was a patron and promoter of what she considered to be Welsh traditional culture and is really responsible for what we know as Welsh costume today. She painted many water colours of Welsh costume and made all her estate workers and house servants – and even her guests - dress in clothes made from local Welsh flannel based on her ideas of national dress (I bet that went down well!).

Lady Llanover collected Welsh folk music and employed a harpist at her home permanently to play the Welsh triple harp - the servants were taught to dance the Llanover Reel to the accompaniment of this harp to entertain her guests.

We perform dances which vary from slow, courtly dances to the faster fair dances and also include clog dances. Since our formation, members of the team have taken part in several eisteddfods and also in festivals, both in Wales and overseas. As a result of this we have hosted many foreign teams on their visits to Wales. Our recent trips abroad took us to Denmark in 2009, and Finland at the beginning of July 2010. We were also invited to Latvia, and some of the team went there to perform at the Lubana festival in 2011.  We were invited to the Lowanderperan festival in Perranporth in October 2012 and greatly enjoyed this.  In 2014 we hope to attend the Oxford Folk Weekend.

In 1981, Gwerinwyr Gwent started a festival of Welsh folk dance for children, Gwyl Plant Gwent. The eight schools who originally took part have now grown to over a hundred schools. Over a thousand children take part in our annual festivals in the centre of Cwmbran, Newport, Abertillery and Abergavenny each summer.

Gwyl Plant Gwent led to the formation of Gwyl Plant Cymru in 1992, when children from all over Wales come together to enjoy Welsh folk dance.

We are often to be seen dancing out of doors in the summer, and we are well known for organising Twmpaths and Noson Lawen evenings.