Joy and Eric Foxley’s folk music background as requested by Beeston Folk Club

Joy has always loved singing from a child. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on the swing that my father built me when I was under school age, about four years, and singing singing and swinging. I remember hoping that I would not forget these songs when I was older. I remember the first National Song Book come into being . [Now try and persuade Joy to say something more coherent!]

Now for Eric's early history, it was more on the dance side. Eric's mother ran a folk dance club in Twickenham. She had danced prior to that in her youth. Eric went with his brother Owen to her club, when we were young teenagers and danced with this group. The members were mostly ladies (after the war there were many ladies on their own), and mostly doing fairly difficult Playford dances. For music they worked from 78 rpm records of course. There were some dances for which they could not find records, so one lady who had a spare small accordion gave it to me and I was told “Please play the one that goes like this....”. I'd had no musical history before that, but spent 2 years learning and watching my Mathematics teacher Mr Blandford. He played accordion for the school Country Dancing. I was amazed at what his left hand did on the buttons. After a couple of year I managed to play without breaking down.

Mum's folk dance group being near London had a number of eminent visitors including Patrick Shuldham-Shaw, Lesley Nicols and others. Pat Shaw was a composer of dances and tunes and he would try them out on my mother's group; he played a huge 140 bass accordion. One particular dance and tune he invented for my mother is called Twickenham Ferry. John Glaister created a dance named after my mother, Mrs Foxley’s Fancy.

Now we come to the time when I came up (with accordion) to Nottingham University in 1956 and of course I went to Folk Dance Society. There I met a young lady called Joy who together with the president of folk Dance Society David Samsung, had been on an EFDSS (English Folk Dance and Song Society) course training up people to be able to MC dances. Joy took folk dance evenings at local youth clubs, and found it helpful to have live music rather than records.

In 1960 Eric and friends were invited to playt for some of the weekly BBC Home Service programmes “The Dancing English” and created the name "Freds Folk Five".

Joy's Folk dance and song CV for schools

Joy Foxley is a qualified and experienced teacher, who taught for many years in a variety of primary schools in the Nottingham area. During that time as part of her extra-curricular activities she ran a number of in-service courses for teachers in English Folk Dance and Song, and taught children's dance teams.

She is an accomplished dance MC for British social dances or ceilidhs (she generally works with Freds Folks band run by Eric, or uses instrumentalists from it), as well as a folk singer and clog dancer. She has acted as MC in French and German when required.

Joy became interested in Indian dance in the 1970s, and started her Indian dance career under Nilima Devi at the Nilmani Kathak Kendra (now the Centre for Indian Classical Dance) in Leicester. After taking first year Kathak examinations there, she resigned her job as a primary school teacher, and went to India to further her Kathak dance. She studied in Baroda under Janaki Ben Damle, obtaining First Class certificates in both her third year and fourth year examinations. Since then she has extended her knowledge of Kathak with further visits for the study of Lucknowi tradition under the internationally famous Kumudini Lakhia, the celebrated dancer and choreographer, at her Kadamb centre for dance and music in Ahmedabad.

Since Joy's return to England, she conducts workshops on Kathak dance, combined with performances and exhibition material as appropriate, and takes adult classes in British folk dancing. She works also in co-operation with Bisakha Sarker at Chaturangan. She has given workshops in Nottingham, Chesterfield, Surrey, Middlesex, and for the ILEA in London. She is now specialising in storytelling with schools and adult groups as well as dancing. Joy has animated the Chota Hathi story (her own version of one of Rudyard Kipling's "Just So" stories with music specially composed by Atul Desai) in both English and German versions, and has written a kavita (poem dance) for the Hafiz the Stone Cutter story with music specially composed by Chris Davis.

Joy article "Do something special for your 50th" in "Pulse" magazine

Joy Foxley was born in Grantham and lives with her husband Eric in Nottingham. She has been involved, together with Eric, in English traditional dance, music and song since about 1954. Her Methodist background, plus experience of living in the diverse communities of Nottingham, have introduced her to a variety of cultures. 85 now, she started kathak classes with Nilima Devi at the Nottingham Hindu Temple in about 1982 – a colleague at the primary school at which she was teaching persuaded her to go to Indian dance classes starting there, when the other students were mostly teenagers. ‘It hooked me, it drew me in.’ Joy continued when the classes moved to Leicester. When in 1985 her husband said, ‘Do something special for your 50th birthday’, encouraged by Nilima, she resigned her teaching post and went to study dance in India. She joined Janaki Ben Damle’s school of kathak dance in Baroda, Gujarat, with her friend Catherine, staying for six months on her first trip. She went on to achieve distinctions in the state third and fourth year kathak exams. Janaki had died after Joy’s second trip, and in 1991 she went to study at Kumudini Lakhia’s Kadamb dance college in Ahmedabad, the first of three visits there.

In 1986, Joy became a peripatetic teacher and took classes in Indian culture and dance at schools all over the county, as well as sessions in libraries, colleges, and youth and other groups all over England and even in Germany (with her daughter-in-law interpreting). More recently she has helped in various places at events being run by Nilima Devi, and in the north west by Bisakha Sarker.

The roof space in her house has been converted to a dance studio with mirrors. Her classes continue at home when Covid permits; and she and Catherine go occasionally to Nilima Devi’s CICD for refresher lessons and new compositions. ‘I look forward to becoming competent and able!’.

The availability of classes clearly makes an important contribution to the happiness and well-being of many older women. The approach to performance, however, changes with age: those under 60 are happier to perform. Kirti, for example, says she loves performing and being part of a team, with the preparation, costume, make-up – and being shouted at by their teacher as if they were 12-year-olds. Smita feels performing is a good way of showing what one has learned, and she appreciates the encouragement. Sue, however, ‘can’t think of anything worse’; some older dancers don’t want to be letting the other dancers down. It is encouraging that some teachers are providing sessions for the over-50s or 60s. Several commented on how yoga, which has been incorporated by teachers in their classes, is enabling them to continue dancing as they grow older.

Eric's Folk dance and song CV

Eric Foxley has been involved in British folk dance, song and music since 1950. He worked on committees of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and produced a document for them of advice to musicians who wish to play for English folk dancing. Major influences on his early music and dance include his mother Amy Foxley, folk fiddler Nan Fleming-Williams, Thames Valley Morris Squire Christopher Penton, William Kimber, Bernard Gordon Smith, Patrick Shuldham-Shaw. A popular folk dance called "Mrs Foxley's Fancy" was composed in Amy's honour.

He has organised many English dance and music tours in France. These involved contacting the mayors of individual towns and villages, and encouraging participation by running social events and workshops as well as performing shows of morris dancing, clog dancing, music and mumming plays.

He runs Fred's Folks ceilidh band. Their website is used by many as a source of music scores for traditional dance tunes. The band's first of many broadcasts on the BBC was in 1961. We have performed all over the UK, with occasional appearances in France and Germany and have bookings most weeks of the year. The band welcomes beginners and young performers to join in with them, so that they can learn the tradition of playing for English Folk dancing as Eric did in his youth. He dances with the Foresters Morris and Sword Dancing Club (morris and rapper sword dancing, plough and mumming plays), and plays for the Greenwood Step Clog Dancers. He taught on the JMO (Joint Morris Organisations) weekends for musicians.

He has travelled extensively with his work in China (all non-autonomous provinces), India (mainly Gujarat and Bangalore), South-East Asia (Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore), Africa (Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania), Europe and America, and always looks for music and dance opportunities wherever he is.

For twenty years now Eric has been happily retired with not a minute to spare, mountain biking, hill walking, running a pottery, managing web sites for a modest fee (including this one), and running the Foresters Morris Men, the Greenwood Step Clog Dancers and Freds Folks Ceilidh Band.

Joy and Eric Foxley together run ceilidhs with Joy as MC and Eric leading Freds Folks band, and have run a regular club folk singing with young children.


Snail-mail to 31 Greenfield Street, Nottingham NG7 2JN, UK
Home landline phone 0115-9786858.
Mobile 07817 178 525.
e-mail us your thoughts to eric.foxley@gmail.com
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