JigDoll is a new project created by Hannah James. A rarity in folk music, Hannah is a singer, musician and innovative clog dancer. JigDoll combines all of these disciplines in a beautiful show exploring the life of the travelling player: sometimes exotic, sometimes frightening, it’s a world where home changes daily, and the only touchstones are the skills you carry with you, and the people you meet on the way.
Known for her involvement in several high profile folk collaborations – Lady Maisery, Kerfuffle, The Demon Barber Roadshow to name but a few – this is her first solo project. Hannah worked with a first-class group of mentors to help bring this extraordinary show together:
Sonia Sabri is one of the UK’s foremost practitioners of Kathak, a form of classical Indian dance which is strongly shaped by percussion; Karen Tweed is an English traditional musician known for her diverse European influences, musical innovation and skills in composition; Cormac Byrne is an inspirational percussionist who understands translating percussion onto new instruments – like feet; and Bush Hartshorn is an international choreographer and artistic director whom Hannah first worked with during the development of the Demon Barbers’ Time Gentlemen Please.
The perfect metaphor for this project combining music, dance and percussion, jigdolls – wooden dancing dolls – have been popular for at least two centuries throughout the UK and Ireland. Even now, the sight of the jointed jigdoll bouncing on its wooden board, arms spinning and feet clattering in perfect time to the music, is captivating.
This event is part of Manchester Folk Festival – a celebration of English folk in all its forms, from indie to traditional, familiar names alongside exciting new voices. From 19-22 October in and around HOME, the whole festival takes place in one area of Manchester over one weekend. The Festival presents an incredible music line-up, as well as craft workshops, film, a proper pub singaround, artists in conversation and a relaxed Festival Hub where you can watch the world go by. Friendly, inclusive and full of opportunities for discovery, it will have the spirit of a festival in a field, in the heart of the city.