NANTGARW • OUR AREA
Our area is renowned more for its porcelain than its dancing, the china pieces being coveted collectors items.The old pottery has long finished producing its fine china and lay in ruin for decades but during the last two years has been renovated and serves as a museum to exhibit some of the rare pieces still in existence.
Nantgarw is a small village situated in the Taff valley, five miles north of Cardiff and south of the world famous "Black Klondike" of the Rhondda Valleys. The village has been an industrial centre since the mid 19th century, when workers from all over the country converged to mine the coal and smelt the iron.Workers whose language and culture were Welsh. It was at that time that a young girl called Catherine Margaretta Thomas visited the fairs and traditional festivals of nearby Caerffili and Tongwynlais and watched the traditional dancers.
Later the religious revival of 1904 repressed the vibrant customs but thanks to Margaretta and her seamstress-trained memory for patterns, we have a series of unique dances known as 'The Nantgarw Collection".

OUR TRADITIONS AND LANGUAGE
Welsh is the official language of the group both socially and for instruction. The members originally come from all over the country and have brought with them their own local traditions and culture. We celebrate festivals and holidays throughout the year - Christmas, New Year,Midsummer, Harvest and Halloween, through dance, traditional ceremonies and rites, folk and cerdd dant singing.

Nantgarw Dancers

Dawnswyr Nantgarw was formed in 1980 under the expert eye of Eirlys Britton with the intention of reviving the folk dancing tradition in the Taff and Rhondda valleys.  They have grown to be one of the largest and most successful teams in Wales
During its brief existence the team has taken first prizes at the Cilhairne Inter Celtic Festivals in 1983 and 1985, along with several prizes at the National Cerdd Dant Festivals in 1982, 1983 and 1984.  Three first prizes were awarded in the dance competitions at the National Eisteddfod at Fishguard in 1986 and at Porthmadog in 1987.
In the 1989 season, the triple crown was won: all 3 Welsh-based competitions - the Cerdd Dant Festival, the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and the National Eisteddfod at Llanrwst. We returned to Llangollen in 1990 and 1992 and gained second place both times.  Five first prizes were won at the National in Mold in 1991.
Due to our British successes, the group was invited to compete in the World Folk Dance Championships held biennially in Palma, Mallorca.  Second prize was won in the best dance group category, and the popular Welsh television magazine programme - Hel Straeon - followed the group and produced a 40' programme on that successful tour.  Indeed the group regularly appears on television - Teulu'r Tir, O'r Fedwen I'r Fari and BBC concerts from St. David's Hall, Cardiff to name but a few.
Members of the group are national winners in other fields such as clog dancing and dancing solos, recitation, Cerdd Dant and folk singing and harp playing.
The group regularly performs in concerts and "twmpathau" all over the country and have appeared in 3 prestigious concerts at the Royal Albert Hall.

THE TALL HAT
Many explanations have been offered as to the origins of the tall hat which is made out of beaver or mole skin. The tall hat originated in France and was also seen in England in the 17 century when it was considered to be an essential fashion accessory to crown and protect the tall wigs of the period. Since it was expensive to produce, only the aristocracy would wear them, but long after the trend disappeared from England the ladies of Wales continued to wear them. The Welsh costume is incomplete without the tall hat.

THE WELSH SHAWL
It's possible to trace the origins of the pattern we recognise as "Paisley" back to the civilisation of Babylon, 2000 years ago.It was introduced to Europe in the 18th Century when silk shawls were imported from Kashmir. Such an exotic design became very popular, and soon they were in great demand. How this was possible, it's difficult to understand since, even at that time, customers had to pay £200 - £300 per shawl. As with every craft the price doesn't reflect the craftsmanship, since it used to take about a year and a half to weave one shawl. The weavers of Paisley in Scotland monopolised the production of the shawl and once again it was seen as a fashionable garment, and is now considered an essential part of our Welsh costume.