Formation and Dissolution of Cultural Borders in the Cornish Dance Revival

Hagmann, Lea Salome (17 July 2019). Formation and Dissolution of Cultural Borders in the Cornish Dance Revival (Unpublished). In: The 45th International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) World Conference 2019. Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. 11.-17. Juli 2019.

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Growing out of the Celto-Cornish political movement in the 1980s, the Cornish Dance Revival was designed to be a Celtic rather than an English Revival. The main aim of the revivalists was to prove Cornwall’s cultural distinctiveness from England and to emphasize its close connection to the ‘Celtic world’. The collected dance material was therefore re-constructed by following Irish and Scottish models. The ‘revived’ Celto-Cornish language Kernewek was additionally used to label or re-name Cornish dances, and cultural borders were consciously created.
However, around the year 2000, a new vision of the Cornish Dance Revival (called Nos Lowen) emerged. This movement aimed at making Cornish dancing accessible for everyone and promoted inclusiveness, globalization and community building. Steps of the former revived dances were extracted and combined in new ways so that a great number of chain-dances, modelled upon Breton Fest Noz dances, were created. These dances were likewise presented as ‘Celtic dances’. However, instead of focussing on what Michael Dietler termed ‘Celticism’, the notion which aims at constructing “ethnicized forms of collective memory and communal identity that are territorially bounded and embedded in overt political projects and ideologies”, Nos Lowen rather followed what Dietler terms ‘Celticity’, “a phenomenon centred around a global spiritual connection to the idea of Celtic identity”. (Dietler 237-238).
The different visions of what Cornish traditional dance should be and how it ought to be interpreted have led to a huge and highly emotional, if not adversarial, controversy between the early revivalists and the initiators of Nos Lowen. This paper takes the Cornish dances as a case study and explores how the creation and dissolution of cultural characteristics is played out in dance revivals movements.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Musicology

UniBE Contributor:

Hagmann, Lea Salome


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
700 Arts > 780 Music
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment




Lea Salome Hagmann

Date Deposited:

12 Dec 2019 09:48

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:33




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