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Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip

Dave Ruch 22 Jan 09 - 09:00 PM
katlaughing 22 Jan 09 - 10:39 PM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Jan 09 - 11:39 PM
Les in Chorlton 23 Jan 09 - 03:22 AM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Jan 09 - 08:30 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Jan 09 - 11:38 AM
Dave Ruch 30 Jan 09 - 10:38 AM
Dave Ruch 30 Jan 09 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,Russ 30 Jan 09 - 12:40 PM
Azizi 30 Jan 09 - 12:51 PM
Azizi 30 Jan 09 - 12:55 PM
Dave Ruch 30 Jan 09 - 01:07 PM
RTim 30 Jan 09 - 02:16 PM
greg stephens 30 Jan 09 - 02:36 PM
ard mhacha 30 Jan 09 - 03:25 PM
ard mhacha 30 Jan 09 - 03:40 PM
GeoffLawes 30 Jan 09 - 04:01 PM
Dave Ruch 30 Jan 09 - 04:17 PM
Folknacious 30 Jan 09 - 05:49 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Jan 09 - 08:00 PM
Siochain 30 Jan 09 - 08:20 PM
RTim 30 Jan 09 - 11:34 PM
Siochain 31 Jan 09 - 08:55 AM
gnomad 31 Jan 09 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 31 Jan 09 - 10:01 PM
mouldy 01 Feb 09 - 08:37 AM
RTim 01 Feb 09 - 08:53 AM
Wild Goose 12 Mar 09 - 02:51 PM
RTim 12 Mar 09 - 04:08 PM
RTim 12 Mar 09 - 04:09 PM
Austin P 12 Mar 09 - 09:52 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Aug 09 - 02:37 AM
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Subject: Morris Dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 09:00 PM

Not knowing the first thing about Morris Dancing or its history here in America, I was surprised when going through the online catalog of old Fox Newsreels from the 1920's at the University of South Carolina Newsfilm Library to discover a clip several minutes long of morris dancers recorded at Hastings-on-Hudson NY in 1929. So, I ordered a copy along with some other things I was interested in.

I watched it twice today, and it seems to be a "staged" session (i.e. for the camera) with several dances all done to the fiddling of a young woman. I will be posting it to YouTube as soon as I get an approved-for-publication (watermarked) second copy from USC, hopefully in the next week or so.

In the meantime, would these dancers have been here from England for a visit &/or some kind of public performance, or would this have likely been a local group of Hudson Valley NY folks keeping an old English tradition going in the new world, or ??


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 10:39 PM

According to THIS there was Morris dancing in early American. The author is quite open about hoping someone will do more research to back up what he has written. Here's a relevant snippet:

An American branch of the English Folk Dance Society (later the English Folk Dance and Song Society) was founded in 1915; it later became the Country Dance Society (and later yet, the Country Dance and Song Society). At dance camps sessions in Amherst, Massachusetts and, subsequently, at Pinewoods Camp in Plymouth, Massachusetts (more irony: Plymouth was where the Pilgrims settled), CDSS has been teaching morris dancing for many years: at least since the mid-1950s at Pinewoods, and perhaps as early as the 1930s or earlier in Amherst.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 11:39 PM

A bit earlier than that. For film clips of demonstration dancing at Amherst in 1927 and 1929, see Tony Barrand's recent article in the online American Morris Newsletter:  Reflecting on the New Old Films in the DVRA

The Fox newsreel could be visiting English dancers or equally well, by that time, a home-grown American team. It will be interesting to see it.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 03:22 AM

Is their any evidence of 19C Morris tunes being collected in the US? I know that tunes used for Morris had many origins but it would be interesting to know that even if the dances didn't make it between the 15C and the 19C that some of the tunes did.

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 08:30 AM

In the hope that this will only be a very brief change of subject, the answer is 'yes and no'. That is, plenty of tunes used in morris dancing have also been found in vernacular tradition in the USA (some, as you presumably know, having originated there); but not associated with morris dancing, which is a Revival phenomenon there. Specialised community traditions tend not to travel with migrants unless a significant number of members of that community migrate, and settle, together.

If you want to go into further detail, I'd suggest a separate thread so that this one can concentrate on its intended subject.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 11:38 AM

Thanks Malcolm, I will start a new thread about Morris Tunes

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 10:38 AM

OK, I have just received the watermarked (i.e. approved for posting on YouTube) copy of this footage from Univ of SC, and have it queued right now at YouTube. It seems to take up to a few hours to put a clip up there - - at least the way I'm doing it - - and there is one in front of it, but if all goes well it should be up before the end of the day. I'll post again when it's online.

Thanks to Malcolm's link above, I have been able to deduce that this is likely the 1929 EFDSS Demonstration Team on a stop in Hastings-on-Hudson NY, although almost three months after the 1929 Amherst footage was taken. The fiddler is definitely the same woman as in the 1927 photo in the Tony Barrand article (Elsie "Ruby" Avril). The footage I'm posting (10+ minutes) also has full sound, which doesn't seem to be the case in the Storrow-Conant clips posted in the article.

I look forward to comments once it's up at YouTube.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 12:15 PM

OK, they're up!

Part 1

Part 2


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 12:40 PM

Whisnant ("All that is native and fine: the politics of culture in an American region") discusses various efforts to import Morris Dancing.

The attempts were part of an agenda.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 12:51 PM

Dave Ruch, thanks for posting these videos.

I've viewed them and rated both of them five stars for their historical value, and not necessarily for their dancing or the fiddle playing since I'm not competent to judge either artistry/skill.

Watching those videos caused me to remember that in the 1950s in New Jersey, an elementary teacher I had in gym or some other subject tried to teach girls & boys to do some couple folk dance with ribbons. I say "tried" because I distinctly recall her modifying what I recall as a "square dance" because we had difficulty learning the movements she first tried to teach us.

Could this have been a Morris dance??!

But if that is a Morris dance, then what is the difference/s between an English folk dance, and an English Morris dance, especially the ones without blackfaced? {And thank God those dancers in that clip weren't in blackened up. I steeled myself to prepared for that possiblilty}.

I thought that Morris dancing wasn't co-ed. But in portions of these clips men & women danced together. Fwiw, if some of the videos is Morris dancing and some of the videos is another type of English folk dancing, then the titles are misleading.

**

Also, I was interested in the fact that in some portions of the videos the men seemed to be dancing on top of a wooden board with taps on their shoes. Is this part of Morris dancing?


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 12:55 PM

I hasten to say I hope that what I wrote doesn't sound argumentative. It certainly wasn't meant to be argumentative.

I'm asking these questions because I'm interested in the subject, though portions of Morris dancing {you can guess which kind} definitely make me cringe.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 01:07 PM

Azizi,

Thanks for your comments. As I said in the first post, I really know nothing about Morris Dance. It's very possible that not everything contained on these clips is Morris Dancing.

I have also forwarded links to the American Morris News and to Tony Barrand, so hopefully we'll get lots more feedback on what's what here.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: RTim
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:16 PM

I would love to say something about both the footage shown and Azizi's
Questions, but it is such a huge subject and I just don't have time.

The only real "Morris" dancing was with sticks and it was a very
average performance of an Adderbury dance called Lad's A Bunchum.

The sword dance was Rapper from the north east of England.

There is a huge difference between Country Dancing & Morris
But I suggest you go look on the web for research because there many
places information can be found.

Tim Radford - ex Adderbury Morris Foreman & Squire
Now living in Woods Hole MA USA


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: greg stephens
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:36 PM

There was some social/country dance as well as the Morris and rapper. Plus a bit of processional Helston Furry Dance.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: ard mhacha
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 03:25 PM

On that Dave Ruch clicky see a John Scruggs good banjo session, the children dancing to the music are brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: ard mhacha
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 03:40 PM

John,I never found the Morris Dance film, there is an Irish set dance film from Ballyvourney County Cork.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 04:01 PM

Very interesting old footage and, from the few words spoken, clearly part of a forlorn agenda of cultural colonisation . If only they'd worn blue suede shoes.
What I found myself wondering about was the sound, which surely must have been recorded independently of the film? That would account for the fact that the fiddler doesn't always seem to be bowing what we hear and also that the same tune is played for different dances? If the fiddler we see was actually being recorded at the same time as the images that we see, then would she not have needed to be playing into recording equipment so close to her that we would be able to see it?


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 04:17 PM

GeoffLawes,

It didn't occur to me that the sound might have been recorded separately, but certainly your argument re: placement of the recording equipment makes good sense. I can tell you that the fiddler being out of sync with the music has more to do with the conversion I did, I'm guessing, as everything is pretty well lined up in the dvd I'm working from. I'm just now learning some basic video editing in order to put these things up there, so I'll be experimenting this weekend to see if I can get a better quality result posted.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Folknacious
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 05:49 PM

Heavens knows why this entered my head, but it struck me forcibly that everyone in those films looked slim and fit. You wouldn't get that nowadays . . .


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 08:00 PM

Not Morris dancing as such - it's Rapper Sword Dancing, which is a district tradition. And here is a clip of a performance in Kentucky in 2007 - it doesn't say whether it's a visiting team or natives.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Siochain
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 08:20 PM

The clip begins with rapper but goes on to include Gathering Peascods (a country dance), Helston Furry, AND a Morris stick dance - Lads A Bunchum.

Siochain


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: RTim
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 11:34 PM

Do any of you read the preceeding comments - or are you dummies!


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Siochain
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 08:55 AM

Perhaps some did not have a chance to view the entire clip, there-by missing all of the dances.

I read your earlier comment RTim, and know you had already identified the stick dance by name. I repeated it with the other dances named as well, hoping it would help others more clearly make the distinction among them.

Or perhaps encourage them to watch the entire clip so they'd see there was more than rapper!


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: gnomad
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 11:17 AM

I suspect there may be a little distortion of the image making people look a bit slimmer in the old clips.

The clip McGoH shows from Kentucky looks like an "end of workshop showcase" rather than a real team in action. Here's Stone Monkey at Whitby, as a comparison.

In answer to Azizi's query re boards, and taps, Rapper doesn't work well on a soft surface such as grass, so boards are sometimes used. I've never seen anyone use taps, though I expect that someone has done so at some time. Five pairs of leather-soled shoes working in synch is enough to give the sound on those clips.


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 10:01 PM

I noticed in the clips that there was a wooden structure with a sloping roof on it next to a tree on the LHS of the picture, I wonder if it contained a microphone which cannot be seen?


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: mouldy
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 08:37 AM

What I'd like to know is, were the guys wearing hard soled shoes, or lightweight dancing clogs? The sound would suggest clogs, as would the uniformity of the shoe style and the slightly turned up toes, but I wouldn't have thought the Cotswold part would have been danced in clogs..... just a thought.

Andrea


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: RTim
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 08:53 AM

It looks to me like there are wearing leather Oxford Shoes.
I also think the sound has been enhanced for the Rapper.

Tim Radford
Who apologizes for his less than kind words earlier in this tread
I was in a bad place when I wrote that...


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Wild Goose
Date: 12 Mar 09 - 02:51 PM

Cecil Sharp in the early 20th century visited the USA mainly to earn some money giving talks, workshops and summer schools(I think) whilst there. I remember reading about some of these where he organised performances by his students. He later also realised the potential to collect folksongs in the Appalachians for which he is largely remembered. Could the dances be a legacy of his teaching trips in America?


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: RTim
Date: 12 Mar 09 - 04:08 PM

The clip is 5 years after Sharps death, and the dancers are English.
Yes - of course it had to do with Sharps earlier visit, but had more to
do with Americans wanting to learn from the English "experts".
The speaker is Douglas Kennedy, who followed Sharp as the leader of

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: RTim
Date: 12 Mar 09 - 04:09 PM

I seem to have lost a bit of my note:
He was leader of The English Folk Dance and Song Society.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: Austin P
Date: 12 Mar 09 - 09:52 PM

Fascinating stuff.

In those days the sound would have been recorded seperately from the film (1929 remember!), and synched up later. This was only 2 years after 'The Jazz singer' the worlds first feature-length talkie and at that time synched recording was limited to studios, so full marks for having a soundtrack at all! They would have used sound-on disc.

As to the 'slim and fit' comment, the aspect ratio of the video seems slightly out making everything seem tall and thin.

Yes, Morris, Rapper and social dancing - a sort of 'sampler' I guess for the intended audience.

AP


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Subject: RE: Morris dance in USA - 1929 film clip
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 02:37 AM

spam alert

the bugger hit this and 2 other threads.


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