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Morris Dancers - attracting new blood

Kev The Clogs 27 Aug 08 - 09:27 AM
jonm 27 Aug 08 - 09:38 AM
Joseph P 27 Aug 08 - 10:12 AM
Ruth Archer 27 Aug 08 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,JM 27 Aug 08 - 10:56 AM
Joseph P 27 Aug 08 - 11:11 AM
Richard Bridge 27 Aug 08 - 12:16 PM
manitas_at_work 27 Aug 08 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 27 Aug 08 - 01:21 PM
SunrayFC 27 Aug 08 - 01:24 PM
Richard Bridge 27 Aug 08 - 02:36 PM
GUEST,Charlotte the oast ouse opper 28 Aug 08 - 04:54 AM
Bryn Pugh 28 Aug 08 - 05:00 AM
Joseph P 28 Aug 08 - 05:26 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Aug 08 - 09:59 AM
Sandra in Sydney 28 Aug 08 - 08:40 PM
Bryn Pugh 29 Aug 08 - 04:25 AM
rodentred 29 Aug 08 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,Dazbo at work 29 Aug 08 - 06:19 AM
Jess A 29 Aug 08 - 06:45 AM
Joseph P 29 Aug 08 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Terry - Hartley MM 29 Aug 08 - 08:01 AM
Joseph P 29 Aug 08 - 08:33 AM
GUEST,Woody 30 Aug 08 - 05:12 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Aug 08 - 06:45 AM
oggie 30 Aug 08 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Terry - Hartley MM 30 Aug 08 - 07:46 PM
Dick The Box 31 Aug 08 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,Terry - Hartley MM 01 Sep 08 - 03:34 PM
GUEST 01 Sep 08 - 06:30 PM
romany man 02 Sep 08 - 02:29 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Sep 08 - 04:07 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Sep 08 - 04:10 PM
Spleen Cringe 03 Sep 08 - 08:10 AM
romany man 03 Sep 08 - 03:32 PM
Kev The Clogs 15 Sep 08 - 05:33 PM
Acorn4 15 Sep 08 - 06:05 PM
MikeofNorthumbria 16 Sep 08 - 06:20 PM
GUEST,dillie the oast ouse opper 17 Sep 08 - 08:18 AM
Soldier boy 17 Sep 08 - 07:27 PM
Mo the caller 18 Sep 08 - 05:49 AM
romany man 18 Sep 08 - 12:25 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Sep 08 - 04:16 PM
Bryn Pugh 19 Sep 08 - 06:47 AM
sian, west wales 19 Sep 08 - 08:07 AM
romany man 19 Sep 08 - 04:19 PM
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Subject: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Kev The Clogs
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 09:27 AM

Having visited several Festivals and events during the last couple of years, I have been both pleased and troubled at the same time.

In terms of "Folk" Music (and please don't start on the "correct" definition - there are other threads for that) - we appear to be doing ok with new blood coming into the scene. There are a great many young singers/musicians, some good, some very good, who will be moving through the scene - carrying on the traddition - and hopefully bringing in further new blood as a result.

In terms of "Morris Dancing", I don't think we can be as comfortable with what is/will be, going on. My Morris Side, Bishop Gundulfs, has been in existance for over twenty five years - we have a full timetable of events, attend several festivals, have a range of performers from a wide variety of backgrounds - however - we are starting to reach a stage where due to rising ages, job commitments etc, that we need new blood.

At this point, let me say that this is NOT a direct plug or recruitment piece! I'm trying to look at the greater implications of what I have just written with regards to the entire Morris Dancing community.

Gundulfs are not alone in this - several sides that I know have had a reduced presence this year due to difficulties in putting out a side due to lack of numbers, injuries, work etc. We have a youngsters' section - ages from 4 to 14 at present, but it will be sometime before the few older ones can move up. Several have been lost at the 17/18 year old stage due to University or "new found independance".

I think that PART of the problem has been that sides have split, broken away - initially working with great success and presence. However, an increase in sides, means that the jam has to be spread thinner. A rough count shows that there are over twenty sides in Kent, whilst counties such as Essex and Sussex have about ten. We will be getting to a stage in the not too distant future, where sides start to seriously curtail their dancing throughout the dancing season or even worse, stop all together.

Many sides have members of 40 years and upwards. They are good, some are very good. They are also often watched by audiences of the same age and above.

Sides may be lucky in that they have one or two "youngsters" - these are often the result of parents who are in the side already.

On my visits to events/festivals, I have noticed sides that have a significant number of teenagers/twenty somethings in ADDITION to us older memebers. To me, it FEELS geographic i.e Shropshire Bedlams, Great Western, Martha Rodhams and The Kingsmen to name a few. These sides have managed to crack something which is going to be vital to the continuation of Morris Dancing in this country.

BUT WHAT IS IT??!!!

Is it the classic "Is Morris Dancing sexy?" Is it geographic? What is it? How do we, and I mean Morris Sides across the board, attract apprentices that will carry on the traddition?

Programmes, leaflet drops, posters, "come and have a go" nights etc etc. All of these seem to have a very low return/success rate.

If you are a member of a side that has had success with this problem, please comment. If you are from "the music side", can your success be transfered to the "dancing side"?

This is an issue that I feel is VERY, VERY important, and we need to be addressing it NOW and not in years to come when it could be TOO LATE!!

Come on folks, let's shake this one by the throat and see if we can sort it out!!!

Kev
Steward for Bishop Gundulfs Morris
Rochester, Kent


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: jonm
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 09:38 AM

I have been the youngest member of most of the sides I have joined and in many cases I still am, now 41 and dancing for 31 years!

Morris is not an attractive prospect for an incoming youth, when all the dancers are 40 - 60 and sporting beards, beerguts, dodgy knees and, in many cases, fairly enthenched attitudes to "tradition." And that's just the women! The fun element - good dancing, good music, beer and good company - is apparent once you are involved, which is why many dancers' children join and stay.

The boom in morris came in the sixties and seventies, when a lot of young men got involved because it was different, fitted in with the general folky music prevalent at the time, and people were less narrow-minded and more open to new ideas. Many of the new sides formed then and since have been as a result of disagreements and internecine strife, often over the dancing and approach to it.

The English are notorious for extracting the pee from anything and everything, so the chances of a Riverdance-style traditional revival happening are slim, because there will not be the support from on high - 5000 morris dancers for 2012 indeed!

The only way the morris can be continued and saved is through anarchy - for some young folk to find their own way of doing it, their own form of self-expression, and for others to see it and enjoy it. That anarchic element is the key to the Bedlams' success, for example.

Whatever it is that happens, I think one key element is that the traditionalists won't like it!


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Joseph P
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 10:12 AM

The side I am in is very mixed in ages, last year we had two new very young dancers, and we have at least 10 dancers aged 18-30. Several of these are linked to the team through family, but not all!

Our team seems to be going through a very healthy phase, but its difficult to pin down exactly what is the key to success.

"Programmes, leaflet drops, posters, "come and have a go" nights etc etc. All of these seem to have a very low return/success rate."

I think lack of active promotion seems to work for us. A certain level of exclusivity (but not cliqueiness) makes people curious. If you look too try hard, people will be put off.

Another important factor is the non-dancing aspect of the side. Would younger people find anything appealing about a night out with the team, do you have a laugh, a bit of banter, or do you sit around talking about the tradition all night? If someone becomes a dancer they are not going to suddenly become interested in every aspect of the folk world.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 10:14 AM

"Whatever it is that happens, I think one key element is that the traditionalists won't like it!"

Bampton is one side with a raft of lovely young dancers - still dancing very much in the tradition.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST,JM
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 10:56 AM

These things happen in phases. The side I dance with was like Great Western is now 6-7 years ago, with lots of young dancers - most of whom enthusiastic sons of older members. They'll soon find that the sons and daughters geographically disperse, some to lose interest, some to join other sides in their new location. Hammersmith in particular do quite well out of the fact that dancers of university age come to London and end up joining because it has a reputation for excellence/fun.

I don't think that there is any danger of Morris as a tradition dying out but there is every likelihood that some teams will find themselves with not enough dancers to perform regularly.

I agree with Joseph P above that 'trying too hard to recruit' is a turn off. The answer would seem to be to attract on the standard of dancing itself. Hammersmith/Great Western/Bedlams/Kingsmen are all wonderful teams with excellent musicians that train their dancers properly before letting them dance out in kit. As a result they look impressive and have people queueing up to join.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Joseph P
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 11:11 AM

"that train their dancers properly before letting them dance out in kit. As a result they look impressive and have people queueing up to join. "

New members to our team have to wear black trousers for their first Whitsun, incomplete whites for their 2nd, and full kit by their 3rd. This gives a feeling of having earned a place in the team.

I also agree with the point regarding standard of dancing. Good teams will get invited to bigger festivals, with dancing comes the prospect of free entry. Younger people are generally poorer (especially those of student age) and there do seem to be a lot of young people at many of the big festivals. There must be an incentive there...


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 12:16 PM

Well, I don't know...

Gog Magog Molly must surely all be under 30 (and I love their stuff, it has the real menace of Molly).

Most of Wolfshead and Vixen must be under 40 and quite a few under 30 - and one of their features used to be their menace - smiles not allowed - and the heavily goth approach. Shame that the website's semi-promise of metal music has not materialised.

A bunch of Oojahkapivvy were young, too - but I think they have been having a diaspora. A big pull surely there was the shit-hot musicians now I think some of whm are at Newcastle doing you-know-what..

Then there is the enhanced consiousness material.

You know what? It's still about sex and drugs and rock and roll.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 12:25 PM

No, that was rock *music*. With morris it was sex and drugs and *sausage rolls*.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 01:21 PM

A lot of recruitment works best with the personal touch. I have just been recruited by a morris side at a festival on the strength of my dancing at a ceilidh, by the woman I was dancing with and members of her side watching. Seems a good method to me. I might even try it myself in future.

I wouldn't worry at all about the 'image' of morris: people will either like us or they won't, no matter what we do. We just need to do what we do well.

Ian sans cookie


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: SunrayFC
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 01:24 PM

Gog Magog are exciting and they "sell" their product very well. And that is the key. If you want am audience you have to attract. Sell yourselves.

Watch Dorset Buttons- excellent.

Wish Gog Magog ventured to Dorset!


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 02:36 PM

"Sell yourself"? Don't talk like that about Dilligaf!


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST,Charlotte the oast ouse opper
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 04:54 AM

I agree - I believe some sides have to be more about marketing themselves to a younger audience - attend the festivals (and dnace at) the big folk things that attract the youngsters - Sidmouth, Towersey, Sweeps etc).

I have been dancing since I was 3, i'm now 25 and I can honestly say that while some sides are struggling, others are making real headway and encouraging younger members both into the side, and then latterly to stay in the side they have joined...

Dare I say it - I think the quality of the older members dancing is a pull factor, looking like they enjoy themselves and being really welcoming of younger people is key.

Also - Morris Kit is a MAJOR factor. Having danced with Gundulfs aged three -eight I can categorically say that wearing the kit is 'nice and cute' when your that old and then again when you're a bit older (say at an age when you're not so bothered if the people from your school see you with a flower head band and wearing green and yellow tunics)then the kit is fine. But is you're 17, you want to be wearing the cool kit of other sides...

This is the same for other sides i've danced with too - dare I mention Oast Ouse Oppers kit? or Offcumduns kit? Not exactly comfortable and make you look like a sack of spuds.

I think that Image is important - as is the friendliness of a side - to young people. And i would know. As i am young. he he

Charlotte xx


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 05:00 AM

I was asked to train a School side at the school which my grandsons attend.

Having danced two seasons in "scratch" kit, it has been decided to adopt 'proper' baldricks and 'proper' bells.

Guess what ? The youngsters think this is 'cool'.

Is there a greater accolade, from 10 -12 year olds ?

Better still - some of the lads have asked where they can dance when they get a bit older.

Well ; there's Brackley ; Moulton ; Witch Men, just in the County . . .


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Joseph P
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 05:26 AM

Surprisingly the only stick I got for being a dancer at school was from people who were a bit geeky, most people seemed to think it was ok, I just said I got free beer, had a laugh and stuff, and people seemed to understand!

Some of the best weekends over the last couple of years have been away with the morris, especially now there are a few of us in our early / mid twenties. Playing along with and upsetting the traditionalists is all part of it.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 09:59 AM

"attracting new blood" - well, if they will insist on using these sticks instead of handkerchiefs, it's hardly surprising these accidents happen...


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 08:40 PM

my local side, Black Joak, has only been dancing for a few years, & started as a mixed side.

Last year then they recruited two 15 year old girls & naturally teenaged blokes joined. pics of Black Joak As one of the girls is of South-east Asian origin, that helped when folks said they'd like to dance but were not of English origin.

They have also been performing with a belly dancing group at the last 2 National Folk Festivals, in a wonderful extravaganza with morris & belly dancing, traditional horses & non-traditional camels, & a bit of cross-dressing as well. I really must post some pics.

One advantage of the younger members has been that the side can again perform some of the very athletic dances now that they have younger members. Dunno the name of the dance but it involved dropping down on one knee & jumping up again, & I knew I hadn't seen it before & found out why when I asked.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 04:25 AM

Sandra - I think that dance might be "Flowers of Edinburgh", Bampton Tradition.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: rodentred
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 06:01 AM

just an observation from Whitby but it seems to me that Morris Dancing is much more atractive to females, judging by the proportion of dancers.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST,Dazbo at work
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 06:19 AM

I've only been involved in morris for about four and a half years but it strikes me that:

1) There seems to be a critical average age of dancers, if this is too high they'll never recruit youngsters. How many youngsters want to be the only one under 30 in a team of 50-70 year olds. If they can recruit it only seems to be dancers of the same age bracket.

2) The side need to be good and with the attitude to at worst maintain their skill levels but preferably wanting to improve all the time. Would you rather join a top class team or a team of lazy, lacklustre people who use the morris as just an excuse to pub crawl?

3) It helps to have a good, preferably distinctive kit - something that stands out from the crowd.

4) Good and/or interesting and unusual music.

5) It's obvious that you are having a really good time dancing, socialising and practising.

The team I play for have had quite a lot of people showing interest in joing and they tend to say that the reasons they'd like to dance with us are mainly 2 - 5.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Jess A
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 06:45 AM

I agree with Dazbo as to the reasons people seem to want to join a team.

The side I dance with is invitation only but to date we've not had a problem with recruiting, whether from people approaching us and us deciding to invite them or from us meeting/spotting people and asking if they'd like to give it a go.

I think for us having high standards and having lots of fun are probably the two most important factors, but we do always seem to end up with new members in similar age bracket to the existing team.

I also agree with Charlotte re: kit. I've been in sides before where the kit has made me cringe, and although I have a high embarrassment threshold and therefore danced anyhow (for a while) I know others who were put off mainly by what they'd have to wear. When we started our side, we actively chose to have kit (black trousers & white shirs plus ribbons & bells) where you can take off the ribbons and bells, and immediately blend into the crowd - makes it easy to travel around or pop into the supermarket mostly in kit without attracting attention :)


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Joseph P
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 06:49 AM

1) A possible way round this is to get groups of youngsters to join together, they also will feel less like the sole new dancer. Also don't dwell too much on age differences, I have as much to talk about to the 50+ team members as I do with the younger ones, sometimes more.

2) The quality of dancing seems to be a recurring factor, funnily enough more practises is not always the solution to poor dancing. Our team practises the few weeks between Easter and Whitsun, and the new dancers start a few weeks early. I cant imagine any of the team wanting to practise throughout the year, if they did, the dancing would become a chore, and this would be reflected in how the dancing looks in performances.

4) Its good to have musicians who are / have been dancers. They generally play to the dance a lot better than even pro musicians who dont dance. The rhythm and feel is just different.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST,Terry - Hartley MM
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 08:01 AM

Hartley are holding an informal Morris Taster evening on Thursday 18 September 8.30 onwards in St Georges Hall, Wrotham, Kent TN15 7AB. Anyone wanting to try their hand (and feet) at Morris dancing is welcome to attend.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Joseph P
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 08:33 AM

An informal Morris Taster? I hope thats before they dance, as otherwise they get a bit salty, and sometimes a bit smelly.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST,Woody
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 05:12 AM

We run a free workshop every year, getting people to come along & have fun trying Morris, no pressure to join or take it any further. We also do sessions teaching kids at things like the Guides and running family workshops at local schools.

Our hope is that we might pick up a member here or there, but that the main thing is to spread understanding of what's going on and getting people to think more positively about Morris.

Unsurprisingly the members we get tend to be similar to the members we already have but we seem to encounter a lot more positive feedback from the public at events as many of them have had a go themselves.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 06:45 AM

NB, Hartley is I think a "Ring" side, ie no women allowed, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: oggie
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 05:45 PM

Way back when I joined Lincoln MM at the age of fourteen it wasn't "cool" then but it was (for me) fun. There were a group of us in our teens so they could let us dance together alongside the "mens" side and join in with Bonny Green Garters. We met every Friday thoughout the year and danced out most weekends throughout the summer.

I think you have to let the young ones dance out. They may not be as good as the more experienced dancers but there needs to be some return for the work they put in.

Steve

PS Anyone going to York's Weekend of Traditional Dance? If you do drop by and say "hello", I'llbe on my saw on the edge of St Sampsons.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST,Terry - Hartley MM
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 07:46 PM

Richard is correct in his understanding that Hartley MM is a Ring side. Our Taster evening is however open to ALL COMERS as a chance to sample the Morris. There will be representatives in attendance from other local ladies and mixed sides who will no doubt snap up any potential dancers from the fairer sex. The fact that we have chosen to dance as an all male side does not mean that we cannot promote and encourage other people, whatever their age, gender or beliefs from enjoying the benefits of becoming a Morris dancer.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Dick The Box
Date: 31 Aug 08 - 11:23 AM

Considering how many bigoted and misogynistic members of ring sides I have come across over the last 30 years, this post from Terry is so refreshing. Well done Hartley MM and I hope that your attitude is noted and adopted by other ring sides.

Richard Ashe (Great Western)


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST,Terry - Hartley MM
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 03:34 PM

Re. Richards concern. This weekend at Dartington Ring Meeting, Brian Tasker, a long standing member of Hartley MM will take over as Squire for the next two years and he will no doubt built on the goodwill promoted by other recent Squires.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 06:30 PM

Morris sides, like folk clubs, can become closed groups. Recruitment tends to be within the existing demographic and thus new members are likely to be of a similar age and background to existing members.

Once you are in that situation there is little chance of breaking out. You must work on maintaining an good spread of ages all the time.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: romany man
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 02:29 PM

Kev, as me other half tried to say at faversham, but it didnt seem to get across, as well as teaching people the various dance types be it hanky waving stick bashing sword flailing clog crashing or what ever style, what people dont see, unless they do join and stay with the side, is the social side of it, the festival camp outs, the singaround the beer swilling drunken banter..........oops got carried away, people only tend to see the performance side of morris not the social.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 04:07 PM

Hi romany man if you are who I think you might be. That leaves the problem with margarine.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 04:10 PM

PS, if it is you you'll know what I'm talking about if I tell you I'm getting the details of the 27 footer.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 08:10 AM

"The only way the morris can be continued and saved is through anarchy"

Priceless! That's my quote of the week.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: romany man
Date: 03 Sep 08 - 03:32 PM

Hi richard, yes its who you think it is, having copied my floor i will be sending a copyright bill at the weekend, hope to see you there.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Kev The Clogs
Date: 15 Sep 08 - 05:33 PM

Well, some interesting comments (as I suspected there would be).

Thanks for the suggestions. Many just confirm what I and others have suspected/ventured.

We will certainly be trying some of them in the months ahead.

Any more sugestions would be very welcome.

Cheers

Kev


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Acorn4
Date: 15 Sep 08 - 06:05 PM

Not a dancer myself but thought would include this for info:-

I was talking to one of the pub landlords during the wind-down from Bromyard this year, and he commented on the number of young Morris dancers, particularly female, that he had seen this year.

Quite encouraging from an impartial source!


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 16 Sep 08 - 06:20 PM

SHAMELESS PLUG!
Hexham Morrismen will be holding four open practice sessions for beginners in Hexham's Moot Hall, on Thursday evenings from the 25th of September to the 16th October, starting at 7.30pm. Our sister side,the Hexhamshire Lasses, practice regularly on Monday evenings in Corbridge Middle School from 8pm - beginners are always welcome.

For more information about both teams and their activities, visit our website. (http://www.hexhammorris.com)

ANSWER TO ORIGINAL THREAD QUESTION
Do we have young members? Yes, though not as many as we'd like - and we tend not to keep them very long. Some local teenagers dance with us for a while, but lose touch when they go away to university. Some incoming university students join us while they're here, but usually don't stay around afterwards. Nevertheless, they all seem to enjoy the experience.

PERSONAL STATEMENT
If curious people(of any age)ask "why do you do it?" my reply goes something like this:

"Well, dancing the Morris is an enjoyable thing to do in itself. On top of that, in the last 12 years it's earned me all-week tickets for three Sidmouths and four Whitbys, plus entry to more UK weekend folk festivals than I can be bothered to count, plus subsidised trips to perform at international festivals in Japan, Bulgaria, Hungary and The Azores.

Moreover, during this period it's kept me reasonably fit, despite the ravages of time and heavy consumption of fish and chips (Whitby), pasties (Sidmouth) and beer (everywhere). And most importantly of all, it's introduced me to lots of very nice people, many of whom have become permanent friends."

Not a bad deal, all things considered?

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: GUEST,dillie the oast ouse opper
Date: 17 Sep 08 - 08:18 AM

for me, i don't think its a problem about encouraging people to give it an initial go, is keeping them...

asking the newcomer what they would like to see from an early stage and perhaps taking on board any feedback they give is a way to keep the tradition evolving (being mindful of the fact that you do have one to preserve and not to change it too much so it's unrecognisable from the ting it once was!)
Suggestions we took on board included:
changing the kit slightly to appeal to younger members (SLIGHTLY PEOPLE!!)
being flexible about practice times, not getting arsey if people don't attend practice one week because they would rather be out with their mates... etc

It's about give and take and being friendly, approachable and creating an environment where young and old can co-exist and still get the enjoyment out of it. We do stuff like, organising morris side events outside of the usual stands/sessions/festivals thing - have a party - actually break the ice and get to know each other and don't be all like "i've been a dancer for seven thousnad million years"...that scares new people. (and also people like me who grew up with this stuff and then just thinks you sound like a bunch of pompous old fools)

I have been to loads of festivals this year and would say that as a young female dancer, there is not so much to worry about apart where atracting dancers is concerned - its keeping them that is the issue :0)

Good luck to everyone who is going for a recruitment drive this year - I hope you all succeed in your aims...

PS....tiny tiny tiny whispers of a new ladies cotswold and border side (not a rubbish one either) starting in Thanet....

Charlotte xx


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Soldier boy
Date: 17 Sep 08 - 07:27 PM

One secret is to attract young musicians to join the band and then encourage them to also give the dancing a try.
From experience this works about 40%of the time and you end up getting the best of both worlds.
A big and brilliant band does wonders for picking up the tempo and lifting the spirits (and the feet) of the dancers and adding vigour and spectacle to please the crowd.
This way you have two avenues for recruitment and it definately gives young musicians an excellent platform to learn and refine the craft and become accustomed to performing confidently in public.
Bon chance.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Mo the caller
Date: 18 Sep 08 - 05:49 AM

The same applies to Social dance clubs, except they are 20 years older or more. We have a few new members this term but they seem to be the same age as the rest of us (i.e. retired, mostly).


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: romany man
Date: 18 Sep 08 - 12:25 PM

Dance with gongscourers most of them draw blood with them bloody sticks,


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Sep 08 - 04:16 PM

At all costs avoid margarine in the band.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 19 Sep 08 - 06:47 AM

On the question "Why do you do it ?", the answer was simple when I was dancing with a North West side (MMM)-

"Aye, well, if I didn't go Morrising, I might keep pigeons, and then theere'd be shit all ovver t' place".

Oh, how we laughed . . .


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: sian, west wales
Date: 19 Sep 08 - 08:07 AM

Another plug, with copy from the flyer:

trac in association with the City and County of Swansea
Morris Tune and Dance Workshops

hosted by the Men of Sweyn's Ey
with guest tutors Jon Mills (accordion) and Mark Prescott (fiddle)
Swansea Museum
27th September 2008   10am – 4pm
11th October 2008   10am – 4pm

£6 per day. £3 concessions.

Ever thought "that looks fun", but never knew how to join in? Fancy learning a few more tunes, and learning the dances that go with them? Would you like to find out more about the Cotswold Morris Traditions? Or Border Morris? Or even the rapper sword dance or mummers plays?
Do you fancy a fun way to keep fit, while making new friends?
If the answer to any of these questions is YES, then these workshops will definitely be for you.

They are open to any instrumentalists, and you don't have to be an expert as you will be initially grouped according to experience. After learning to play some tunes for specific dances, everybody will come together and have a go at both playing music and dancing (although not at the same time!!)

Although aimed at people who want to play music as well as dance, the workshops are also open to people who would like to do just one or the other.

Ideally, people should be able to attend both workshops, as this will give the opportunity not only to extend your repertoire, but also to consolidate what you have already learnt. However, the workshops will be structured so that it is possible to attend on just one of the days.

If you enjoy these workshops and would like to do more, the Men of Sweyn's Ey will be on hand to give you details of their practices and performances. You never know, you might find yourself joining this long-established and highly respected local Morris side!

On a practical note:
Swansea Museum is about a 10 minute walk from the Bus and Railway Stations. There are various Pay-and-Display car parks nearby.
Tea/Coffee will be provided. For lunch, either bring your own, or alternatively there is a good selection of cafes and bars nearby.
There is also a Sainsbury's very close by.

*******************************

You do need to pre-register, but I've taken out the email and phone number so as not to attract nasties. If you're interested, you can PM me and I'll get you the necessaries.

sian


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancers - attracting new blood
From: romany man
Date: 19 Sep 08 - 04:19 PM

Bloody long way from here though


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