Alford, Violet

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An authority of international repute on all forms of folk dancing, and the related music and festival customs. She stressed the similarities to be found over much of Europe, which she believed were due to a common origin in prehistoric ritual. Most of her research was done in France and Spain, especially in the Pyrenees; she was a tireless traveller and a close observer, whose vivid first-hand impressions of customs and performances are of enduring interest even where her theoretic framework is outdated. She was an active member of the EFDSS, organized several major dance festivals, and adjudicated at others; she held strong views on authenticity, and deplored commercial or touristic changes to tradition. She spotted the fragmentary traces of the Marshfield mumming tradition, stimulated its revival in 1932, and then, characteristically, tried to control the performances.

Her main books are Pyrenean Festivals (1937); The Singing of the Travels (1956); Sword Dance and Drama (1962); The Hobby Horse and Other Animal Masks (1978).

See D. N. Kennedy, Folklore 82 (1971), 344–50, for a selected bibliography;Lucille Armstrong, Folklore 84 (1973), 104–10,and Edward Nicol, FMJ (1972), 257–8, for obituaries; Davidson and Blacker, 2001: 151–57.

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