Naragonia’s Pascale Rubens and Toon Van Mierlo present a delicious feast of beautiful music for your dancing and listening pleasure. Naragonia’s music ranges from intimate and delicate to voluptuous and passionate and is pervaded by a timeless and steady energy. You won’t want to miss a single note.
Naragonia was formed in 2003 at the Andanças Festival in Portugal and have recorded since then 8 albums. In addition to playing in their home country of Belgium, Naragonia has toured through whole Europe.
Their impact on the European folk scene cannot be underestimated. They are an inspiration to numerous musicians and many of their numbers have been covered or recorded; not just by Belgian musicians but also by those abroad from Portugal to Russia, from Sweden to the USA. Some of Naragonia’s numbers become real signature tunes.
Over the past years different collaborations within the Arts have come to fruition. Theatre (Tal en Thee and Theater de Spiegel), musicians and bands from abroad (Fernhill, Andy Cutting, Paulo Lameiro, Gregory Jolivet to name but a few…) have all taken part in these ventures. All rich encounters, encompassing travel to new lands to meet new people and to form new tales.
Musique à danser de Haute-Bretagne
Gwenaël Piel and Jeanne Lemoine a young, energetic, and upcoming duo fervently promotes the music and dancing of Haute-Bretagne since 2018. Both incredibly talented, Jeanne plays and teaches the melodeon and sings with a mesmerising voice the songs of the area she is passionate about, while Gwenaël masters the bombarde and the clarinet. Met in the Festival de Cornouailles in Quimper in 2019, they were booked on the spot as they were offering a rich repertoire of dances, songs and music and an impressive performance… and they are lovely people!
Anna Pack and Jo Veal
Jo (clarinet) and Anna (diatonic accordion/clarinet) are well known on the French and balfolk dance scene here in the UK, having played together over many years at informal sessions and dance events, but also from their individual collaborations with musicians such as Dave Shepherd and Andrew Swaine. Jo is also a long-standing member of the ceilidh band Hekety and balfolk trio Outre Manche.
As a duo they apply their unique and very danceable style to a variety of popular and lesser-known tune repertoire from across Europe, along with their own compositions. You may even have been lucky enough to hear them perform at the Festival des Panards in 2019!
Mike James, originally from London and South Wales, plays diatonic accordion and sings. Nurtured in the English and Welsh folk scenes and brought up with Scots and Irish traditional music and song ringing in his ears, Mike found his way to Brittany in the late 1970’s and soon made it his base.
Playing with his father-in law and other friends in his early Breton years was the magic potion that he fell into and made him feel more Breton than anything else… and 30 years of playing with Yves Leblanc from the late eighties through to 2019 helped him become a sought-after specialist in Breton diatonic accordion playing, in particular the styles of Haute Bretagne (Eastern ‘Gallo’ Brittany).
With Yves, or solo, or with his Welsh dance music groups Twm Twp and Priodas, he has toured extensively in concert, bal or fest noz over the last 40 years ‘from Compostella to Nijni Novgorod’, – all over France, and in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, England, Wales, the Isle of Man, Spain, and as far as Reunion Island and Russia. He now plays and sings mainly solo for dances, or in concert in a duo with his son Dylan, a talented and eclectic singer, double bass and bass player.
He has recorded a dozen cds (and an LP!), including 6 with Yves Leblanc (including a series of three which became classics of the Breton dance workshop scene) and two solos backed by his son, and other colleagues, as well as three cds with Twm Twp, and participated in a number of others.
Mike was awarded the sought-after ‘Bogue D’Or’ prize for his traditional singing of songs from Eastern Brittany in 2016.
Mike has been teaching the diatonic accordion for over forty years, in regular lessons or in special workshops, as well as Breton or Welsh music workshops for all instruments. His aim is where possible, to prioritise the accompaniment of the dance to reflect the local styles, to bring the playing and the piece to life, through variation, decoration, and an approach that highlights the chords, the accentuation of the dance and, where appropriate, the song.
Mike plays on a three row A/D/G diatonic accordion by Castagnari, or a 2 1/2 row classic Hohner from the 1930s in G/C.
Koen Dhondt is one of the leading dance teachers for couple dancing in the Western-European folk dance scene. He has been teaching dances for more than 15 years. Koen uses targeted exercises, handy tips, attention to detail and individualised feedback to teach his students to guide and follow smoothly. The focus on a pleasant group dynamic, variations in teaching methods, an unlimited supply of patience and a spoonful of humour ensure a pleasant learning process.
Thanks to this experience he organises enriching programmes of workshops for all abilities. He has been dancing for more than 30 years in a wide range of disciplines from bal folk, tango to salsa. Koen has created Frisse Folk, an organisation which is based in Belgium and which offers an impressive programme of activities all related to folk music and dance.
Jeanne Lemoine (from the Duo Piel/Lemoine)
Jeanne is one half of the Duo Piel/Lemoine but is also an extremely talented solo performer on the melodeon, she sings beautifully, and teaches the dancing of her native Haute-Bretagne, the Eastern part of Brittany where Gallo is spoken. She will lead two workshops for the festival, singing and melodeon.
A bit about Jeanne:
Accordeonist and singer, she plays in bals and concerts with the duos Piel/Lemoine, Lemoine/Bouthillier, Lemoine/Couchoux and the trio Ramajes, and teaches at the Conservatoire of Nantes and in schools.
Jeanne comes from the north of the Ille-et-Vilaine department in Brittany, where since childhood she was exposed and has immersed herself in the music, dance and traditional singing of the Breton oral culture though bals and various organisations. Her musical training took place at the Faculté de Musicologie in Rennes, where she deepened her knowledge of the played and sung repertoire and the culture of Haute-Bretagne. She also learnt to speak gallo (local dialect). She was able to meet traditional accordionists, gallo speakers, collectors of the local tradition and wrote a mémoire on the bouèzou, the accordionists of the Ille-et-Vilaine. She is passionate about valuing and transmitting her local heritage through her musical activities but also through organisations such as La Granjagoul, La Bouèze or La Souat à Chants.
In her own words : “Aujourd’hui, les musiques traditionnelles, en particulier la culture gallèse, rythment mon quotidien et constituent une matière de cœur, riche d’exploration, de création et de transmission.”
Quentin is a professional musician and composer playing hurdy-gurdy, In 2019, he worked on a year of professional development for his hurdy-gurdy playing funded by the Arts Council DYCP funding strand. Over the course of the year, he studied contemporary hurdy-gurdy and folk music with some of the world’s best players.
Quentin works as a soloist and lead musician with world music band and festival favourites Celtarabia, historical musicians The Grinnigogs and the Hessle Ceilidh Band. From 1995-2000 Quentin worked as a composer producing four critically acclaimed albums with his band Celtarabia and produced ‘Fusions’ a library music album for Studio G. Quentin has recorded as a featured artist for Suns of Arqa, and in session for the Afro-Celt Sound System, Andy Kershaw, John Peel and more recently Alan Raw of ‘BBC Introducing’.
Recently Quentin has been performing his acclaimed new solo show ‘Old Dog New Tricks’ based on his experiences and the music learnt during his year of professional development in Europe. Quentin has used the time during Lockdown to study online with musicians and organisations all over the world deepening his knowledge of traditional music and extending his professional network.
During lockdown Quentin has been running and attending music workshops online.
Previous projects include Hullywood Icons project funded by a GFA grant: a worldwide hit right at the start of Hull City of Culture 2017. He also produced the remarkable Changing Face of Hull exhibition in 2015 which explored ideas of self, identity and city.
Peter’s early interests in dance were fostered at Reading University. His main early influences were through the Reading Traditional Step Dance and Clog Group, where he became a key member of the group dancing (group and solo clog) at different events and festivals. He was part of a small active research team, supported by the EFDSS, into clog dance and step dancing in Norfolk. He contributed through dancing and playing in bespoke films made including Dick Hewitt, Pat Tracey and Sam Sherry, with the aim of recording an historical archive of the tradition. He has contributed to articles written for the Folk Music Journal and Magazine.
More recently, he has pursued French and Breton dance, mainly through festivals in France, and Brittany. Key interests include couple dancing, Breton and dances from the Vendée and Poitou regions. He has run French Dance Stroud for several years and has aimed to improve dance through the monthly workshops, and drawing on some of the best UK (and occasionally) French bands. He has led workshops further afield in different festivals and for other dance groups. He runs the French and Breton dance week at Halsway Manor. This draws from early dance experiences where he learned dance technique and using stepping in social dance, from across the UK.
David has been playing pipes for over 30 years. He plays with Zephyrus, the fabulous Eel Grinders, a band that has played at numerous occasions for the Festival des Panards, solo, and duets with accordionist Steve Turner.
David has much experience in leading pipe workshops and has worked at many festivals across Britain and Europe.
Jess Abrahams discovered French dance in 1985 and has been teaching dance since 1992. She has learned traditional dance from many sources and teachers, at workshops and festivals both in the UK and in Europe. For many years St Chartier and the Grand Bal de l’Europe were at the heart of this teaching and learning but added to these were many other events in the UK, France, Portugal, Sweden, Germany and Ireland. During the pandemic lockdown Jess started a website offering free teaching videos of dances and techniques which are aimed at helping solo dancers keep both their bodies and brains working. https://www.brightheartmoveson.co.uk/
Mark has played violin and fiddle for much of his life, bringing a unique mix of classical technique and improvisation and innovation in interpretation. Mark’s musical interests and collaborations have covered all genres of music – South American Folk, rock, blues, jazz, Irish traditional music and of course French and Breton music. Mark frequently performs with Philippe Plard and with his duos Deux Sans Frontières and Vivant.
Mark is well known and sought after in French music circles for his live performances and for his engaging workshops. Mark has established a reputation for his enthusiastically infectious teaching style, informed by the Natural Voice Practitioner movement and allied to communicating the strong rhythmic drive that characterises his playing. For more information on Mark’s musical projects, you can visit his website: