The Llangadfan Dances were described in a letter from William Jones, Llangadfan to Edward Jones, Bardd y Brenin, London in the late 18th century. The letter is now stored in the manuscript collection of the National Library of Wales. Three dances are described in some detail: Roaring Hornpipe, Aly Grogan and Lumps of Pudding.
The dances, which are for a set of three couples, all follow a similar pattern composed of three sections, the leadings, the tracings and the turnings. Within these sections a working couple interacts with all four other members of the set. Of the three dances described in detail Aly Grogan is the shortest, most basic. The other two dances contain additional moves and variation to fit with their longer and more complex tunes.
The following instruction for Aly Grogan (see downloadable PDF below) is the result of extensive work done by members of Parti Dawns Aelwyd Aberystwyth, specifically Ian Hughes, Robin Huw Bowen and Janet Hardy in the 1980s and 90s. Their aim was to work from the original manuscript to create instructions for the dances which would be as authentic as possible (without the benefit of time travel).
The group performed Aly Grogan according to these instructions as their contribution to the DVD “12 Traditional Welsh Folk Dances”, © The Welsh Folk Dance Society 1995. In the following years Dafydd Thomas collated the instructions for each of the dances and some other suggestions for other tunes which William Jones mentioned in passing. These instructions are the basis for those given below.
Evidence in William Jones’s letter suggests that there was a tradition of challenging groups of local dancers to vary the basic patterns of the dances to fit with different tunes. The implication is that each of these dances was created to fit a specific tune; the tune came first with the dance patterns adjusted to fit. Consequently it seems reasonable to insist that these dances are danced to the given tunes. However if certain variations of the tune, e.g. in a minor key or with slight changes in notation, are available then they could be used as a Btune in order to lessen the tedium for the musicians! Two examples of the variant tune “Larry Grogan” are given here for this purpose. Sbonc Bogel is a suggestion for the Round O since none is given in the manuscript.