CN D Magazine

#1 Sept 22

From the vault

Social dancing in Upper Brittany, filmed by Francine Lancelot

Through the eyes of Michel Guillerme, independent scholar, Upper Brittany

Super 8 excerpt from a series of films by Francine Lancelot, made as part of an ATP-CNRS research project on the dances of Upper Brittany between 1974 and 1977. The dance shown here is a “ridée” led by Jean-Louis Latour. It was recorded on June 23, 1974 in Allaire, Morbihan, in front of the Sainte Barbe Chapel.

I was very young when I met Francine Lancelot, who filmed these images. She had asked me to participate in a workshop on social dances derived from contredanses, because she’d learned I was doing research in my own region, Penthièvre, in northern Upper Brittany. The workshop was a revelation for me. Like most participants, I learned a lot with her in a short amount of time and gained new insight in methodology, dance history and its implications for our Upper Brittany traditions.

Through her CNRS research mandate, Francine Lancelot explored Upper Brittany, the Guérande region, the salt marsh region and the Gallo region around Vannes. This film features a dance from this part of the greater Vannes region, the western part, called “Vannetais gallo” because it is in Gallo country. People there speak the Gallese language, or Gallo (a Roman language from the Oïl branch), and not Breton (the language spoken in Lower Brittany).

This dance, the ridée, is the predominant one in this territory. It’s a 6-count dance, or rather 4+2, which I classify among the dances derived from the simple branle. The source for this is Thoinot Arbeau, in his 1589 Orchésographie. This dance involves distinctive arm movements, like the laridés found in the Breton Vannes country – a standard phenomenon of evolution.
This ridée is led by tradition bearer Jean-Louis Latour, and performed by a group of young people who had learned the dance for this purpose. This explains their technical homogeneity, which is unlike the performance style of the older performers Francine Lancelot also filmed around the same time, who knew this dance as part of local tradition.

Demonstrations of traditional dances
As part of the European Heritage Days at CN D
17 & 18.09.2022