The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157043 Message #3703968
Posted By: Mr Red
25-Apr-15 - 02:51 AM
Thread Name: What exactly is Morris dancing?
Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
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Perhaps we should add a comment on the black-faced Morris. There are many explainations for blacking faces. Some say (with solid documented evidence) it was originally local dancers trying to cash in on the popularity of Morresque dancers who were variously from central Asia (think India). Expert tumblers dancing for nobility. A tribute act as it were. Morresque was coined in mistaken belief they were Moors from Spain.
Then as it became a tradition in a side (correct nomenclature for a troupe) and was very useful to hide the identity of the dancers because dances were performed by farm labourers who could not earn during the cold months and it was a form of begging.
During that phase one way of demonstrating your fitness as a farm worker in one short "interview" was to dance on May 1st (labour day) at hiring fairs common on that day. Best dancers, fittest. And hiding identity to some extent might be useful then.
Today I have heard it said that hiding the identity of some free-spirited (drunken) souls is not a bad idea.
The trend nowadays - in response to political correctness of those ignorant of their own history - black faces are giving way to fancy colours and face painting. Indeed I have seen a couple of sides with a member whos painted face did not reveal their ethnic origins. There are fashions in Folk! Shock Horror