Homecoming

In 'Homecoming', members of the troupe dancing community in Stoke-on-Trent participated in a workshop to create giant rosettes inspired by the US tradition of “homecoming ‘mums”.

Homecoming is celebrated across North America, during which schools and colleges invite their alumni to participate in cultural and sporting activities, such as parades, dances and football games. In the southern states, particularly in Texas, the tradition also includes the making and wearing of homecoming ‘mums (short for “chrysanthemums”); elaborate corsages decorated with ribbons and personal effects worn around the neck or as arm garters by both female and male high school students at homecoming events.

‘Mums are usually made by hand and are sometimes given as gifts or love tokens. For decades, ‘mums were relatively simple, comprising just a single flower and a few ribbons, however in recent times ‘mum making has become increasingly competitive and today many ‘mums are huge and highly elaborate, including whistles, fairy lights, photograph albums and stuffed toys.

Troupe dancers crafted their own 'homecoming' mums to mark the end of the carnival competition season. The resulting installation explores the notion of consciously importing a tradition. This is apt because carnival performances such as troupe dancing are sometimes mistaken for the US-originated practice of cheerleading, although there is no evidence to support such a straightforward or one-sided exchange. Perhaps ‘mum-making could become an aspect of the entertaining troupes’ material culture in the future?

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