Digital Archives Initiative

ICH - Performing Arts



The performing arts range from vocal and instrumental music, dance and theatre, sung verse and beyond. They include numerous cultural expressions that reflect human creativity. Music is perhaps the most universal of the performing arts. It can be found in the most diverse contexts: sacred or profane, classical or popular, closely connected to work or entertainment. It can recount a community's history, and sing the praises of a powerful person. The occasions on which music is performed are just as varied: marriages, funerals, rituals, festivities, all kinds of entertainment as well as many other social functions. Traditional performances may combine acting, throat singing, set dancing, square dancing, drum dancing, and music with an accordion or fiddle, dialogue, narration or recitation.


Concerts and Times
This collection is comprised of a series of interviews, videos, and photos on the material of Concerts and Times in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Dictionary of Newfoundland English states that a concert is "A miscellaneous public performance of songs, recitations, skits, etc." A time is defined as "A party or celebration, esp a communal gathering with dancing, entertainment, etc." The difference between the two illustrates that a concert tends to be more formal in production than that of a time.

Concerts were an evening's entertainment, which could comprise variously of music, food, storytelling, prepared monologues or recitations, and dance. Many of these were locally composed, but many were drawn either from the older traditional repertory or had been learned more recently, sometimes from printed sources.

A time was an event which usually involved a supper held by the ladies church group in the community. A time usually involved some crafts for sale and games for the children to play. Later in the evening a dance would end the time. This differs from concerts which involved practicing for weeks on skits, songs, and drills. Following the concert, a supper was served and there was often a dance.

Traditional NewfoundlandDance
The traditional dances of Newfoundland and Labrador retain many of the characteristics of 19th century Irish and English folk dances, while having evolved into a unique part of the culture of the province. Newfoundland and Labrador folk dance is mainly learned by observation and practice. Traditional dances are performed solo or by couples or groups. Step dancing is mostly done solo and is usually improvised. In the province, traditional group dances include cotillions, longways, square dances, and reels. The "old fashioned waltz" or "Newfie waltz" is the most popular traditional couples dance. Traditional dancing is performed at social events such as Christmas and other calendar holidays such as St. Patrick's Day, concerts and times, weddings, house and kitchen parties and community events. Other types of traditional dance exist in aboriginal communities, some of which, like drum dancing in Inuit communities, are experiencing a revival. Other ethnocultural communities maintain traditional dances from their home countries, such as Chinese Lion Dance, Indian Classical Dance or Slovakian folk dance.

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