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Dance at Winchester’s Hat Fair

Posted on June 6, 2012


hatfairteadanceemmamooreThe Winchester Hat Fair runs from July 6 to 8, transforming the city centre with street art and performances from tea dancing to free running. The widest street in the city will be carpeted over and provided with living room furniture, a paved space will be turfed over as a safe area for under-fivs, while there will be dancing outside the city’s medieval Great Hall and its famous law courts.

The fair is named after the tradition of throwing money into the hats of street performers. It was launched in 1974 as a buskers’ festival, and is now Britain’s longest-running celebration of street arts and theatre.

This year’s programme includes an afternoon tea dance with Ragroof Theatre. Dance to the sounds of the 1920s, 30s and 40s, with glamorous displays from Ragroof’s dancers and instant dance classes for absolute beginners, with music from DJ Desert Ivan. At last year’s dance (pictured), a newly-married couple emerged from their wedding in the Winchester Guildhall and plunged straight into the dance. See for more information.

Choreographer Shaun Parker and C-12 dance theatre present Trolleys, a Without Walls commission in which five supermarket trolleys take over a public space. Two meet and fall in love, while three more revolt, kicking off a dance of anarchy. See for more information.

Free running company 3RUN will perform in the city, mixing free running, martial arts and urban acrobatics. See for details.

Big Dance will also be part of this year’s Hat Fair. Managed by Hampshire Dance, there will be Big Dance workshops in styles from Zumba and street dance to West Country Swing, plus demonstrations and dance theatre displays. See for times and classes. For more information about Winchester Hat Fair, see

Picture: Ragroof tea dance. Photograph: Emma Moore

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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