The Giants team usually meets to practice on the 3rd Sunday of each month, 11-1 at Kelham Island Industrial Museum. Within the team there are three main roles:
The porters are the ones who actually carry the Giants. Each Giant is built on a wooden frame and the porter gets inside, lifting the Giant with his or her shoulders and head – there’s plenty of padding! – and holding the frame for stability. They can see out through a panel in the front of the Giant’s skirt. Porters wear a long cloth called a ‘faixa’ (the Catalan word for ‘corset’) wound tightly around their waist to protect the back when carrying the Giant. Each porter carries for around 5 minutes and then switches, so no-one gets tired out.
To be a porter you have to be at least of medium height, reasonably strong, with a good sense of balance and the ability to remember a sequence of simple dance steps. Interested in having a go? Why not come along to one of our open practices – check the Events page for details.
Crew are vital to a Giants parade or performance. They accompany the Giants everywhere for safety (children, dogs and cyclists are particular hazards!) and during dances, they position themselves at the cardinal points North, South, East and West to help the porters keep orientated, as well as to define the dance area and provide some crowd control. The Crew are also known as ‘catchers’ because in the event of a problem, their job is to rush in and ‘catch’ the Giant to stop it falling over and getting damaged or hurting anyone.
The Giants have to be transported in their component parts, so the crew also help to carry, construct and dress the Giants. The porters and musicians also pitch in with this part of the job. There are no height or ability requirements for crew – everyone can help in some way. Taking photos or videos is another useful Crew role. Come along to one of our open practices to find out how you could be involved.
The musicians’ job is fairly obvious! They play the tunes for the dances, parades and occasional musical interludes too. Any instruments are welcome, but it’s important to have a drum to help the porters count the dance rhythms and keep in step, with melody instruments to carry the tune and rhythm instruments to fill out the sound.
Currently the band includes drum, guitar, bouzouki, melodeons, concertinas, and fiddle; but in the past there has been accordion, trumpet, pipes, whistles, hurdy-gurdy, mandolin… you name it! The tunes are folk music from all over Europe – have a look at our Music page for all the details. If you fancy having a go, you are very welcome to one of our open practices. We also have occasional band-only practices, especially if there are people who need to learn tunes. Any ability musician is welcome.
Elected at the 2018 AGM:
Coordinator (Captain) – Gill Foort
Treasurer/Secretary – Ruth Aidley
Foreman of Dance – Jon Nielsen
Publicity Officer – Gill Noppen-Spacie / Sarah Eykyn
Dresser – Sarah Eykyn