flora faddy furry dance day

Richard Philpott brings his attention to the corporeal and performative features of a yearly tradition in Helston, Cornwall in The Flora Faddy Furry Dance Day (1989).


Philpott's film echoes the format of the Flora Day, accentuating how the music and dance repetitions arouse shared unconscious emotions. The film views ritual as a means through which it's possible to transcend the everyday. As a mesmerising tune plays repeatedly, the cameraman (Philpott filming the 1989 version of the ritual) accompanies the dancers, whirling around,“ hinting at a potential collapsing of boundaries between his own experiences and those of participants”[1].


The film can also be interpreted as an exploration into the film's potential to bring about a particular emotional response from the viewer. At the time Flora Faddy... was made most British experimental film fell within the structuralist/materialist sphere. Philpott explained he was aiming to “transcend materialist concerns and break through into a visionary realm” with this work.


Fowler argues that Philpott’s  representation could be criticised as highly romantic, “creating an idealistic to the past akin to those of many folklorists of the past, and isolating the ritual experience from the wider social context at the time it was made” [2].


Fowler draws similarities between her own work and Philpott’s, both conveying a feeling of the mysterious and potentially magical qualities of ceremonial events. However, Fowler distinguishes her film practice as she considers her work to be grounded in the everyday; rooted in social reality, but does acknowledge that Philpott effectively explores the characteristics and possibilities of film as a medium to communicate ritual experience. His method is also, it could be argued, an 'embodied one, as he places himself into the action in an act of imagining and empathy” [3].







[1] Rosalind Fowler (2013) 'Embodied Film and Experimental Ethnography: Place, Belonging and Performative Folk Traditions in England'

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid


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