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Has morris become mere 'fun'?

MGM·Lion 26 Mar 11 - 08:06 AM
RTim 26 Mar 11 - 09:28 AM
GUEST,Folkiedave 26 Mar 11 - 09:41 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Mar 11 - 10:11 AM
GUEST,Folkiedave 26 Mar 11 - 10:35 AM
Geoff the Duck 26 Mar 11 - 10:39 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Mar 11 - 10:45 AM
Will Fly 26 Mar 11 - 10:52 AM
Dave the Gnome 26 Mar 11 - 11:30 AM
Geoff the Duck 26 Mar 11 - 11:40 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Mar 11 - 12:01 PM
Dave the Gnome 26 Mar 11 - 12:10 PM
Brian Peters 26 Mar 11 - 12:11 PM
Gozz 26 Mar 11 - 12:26 PM
Anne Lister 26 Mar 11 - 07:12 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Mar 11 - 11:54 PM
GUEST,Peter (Guest) 27 Mar 11 - 06:27 AM
Geoff the Duck 27 Mar 11 - 07:50 AM
Old Vermin 27 Mar 11 - 09:36 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 11 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,Eliza 27 Mar 11 - 02:34 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Mar 11 - 02:36 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Mar 11 - 02:39 PM
GUEST,Eliza 27 Mar 11 - 02:40 PM
Folkiedave 27 Mar 11 - 02:40 PM
Folkiedave 27 Mar 11 - 02:41 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 11 - 02:44 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Mar 11 - 02:45 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 11 - 02:47 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Mar 11 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,Eliza 27 Mar 11 - 02:55 PM
Smokey. 27 Mar 11 - 07:36 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Mar 11 - 12:53 AM
Old Vermin 28 Mar 11 - 06:12 AM
MGM·Lion 28 Mar 11 - 06:22 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 28 Mar 11 - 07:19 AM
Old Vermin 28 Mar 11 - 08:26 AM
SteveMansfield 28 Mar 11 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,glueman 28 Mar 11 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,Green Man (Yes the real one) 28 Mar 11 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Upstreeter 28 Mar 11 - 11:35 AM
Desert Dancer 28 Mar 11 - 12:00 PM
Dave the Gnome 28 Mar 11 - 02:31 PM
Herga Kitty 28 Mar 11 - 06:01 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Mar 11 - 06:22 PM
Folkiedave 29 Mar 11 - 05:45 AM
theleveller 29 Mar 11 - 06:32 AM
theleveller 29 Mar 11 - 07:15 AM
Dave the Gnome 29 Mar 11 - 12:53 PM
RTim 29 Mar 11 - 01:10 PM
RTim 29 Mar 11 - 01:13 PM
Silas 29 Mar 11 - 01:15 PM
Old Vermin 29 Mar 11 - 01:17 PM
Dave the Gnome 29 Mar 11 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Roger Green 30 Mar 11 - 01:10 AM
GUEST 30 Mar 11 - 01:42 AM
GUEST,Chris P 30 Mar 11 - 04:50 AM
Dave the Gnome 30 Mar 11 - 05:10 PM
Geoff the Duck 31 Mar 11 - 05:09 AM
Geoff the Duck 31 Mar 11 - 05:13 AM
Geoff the Duck 31 Mar 11 - 05:14 AM
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Subject: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 08:06 AM

I am not a morris man; but I have known many in my time. I would particularly instance Arthur Peck and Russell Wortley, both Cambridge academics, both also in their time bagman and squire for the Cambridge morris; both born before WWi and dying 1970s-80s. Russell literally died dancing ~~ he was the 'Betty', and his widow was relieved that they got his dress off. After Arthur's memorial service in Christ's College Chapel, the men were invited by the Master to dance on the sacred grass of the First Court.

They were older men than me ~~ of the previous generation, indeed. And, for all their doing the "Betty" bit or the Hobby-Horse in their turn, they took the morris seriously ~~ not over-earnestly, but seriously. They would never have regarded it as 'just a bit of fun', or approached it in a manner suggesting an expectation of being, if not actually mocked, at least of being regarded as a bit 'odd' or 'off'.

But, from the reception I got from most on the ongoing Morris Men Wanted For Pimms Ad thread, on my suggesting it might be the best thing for any self-respecting morrisman to stay clear of because the object was sure to be to send them up disrespectfully, I got the impression that that was what today's men expected ~~ and not only expected, but would actually welcome; because, it seemed to me, the present generation regard the whole thing as just a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun which they themselves do not regard with any sort of seriousness.

Is this indeed the case? Am I just a lone voice crying from a distant past? Does no-one else out there realise there was a time the morris was regarded as a glory of our tradition? ~ to be enjoyed, indeed - not with an inappropriate over-earnestness, but with respect; and not to be wilfully and consciously sent up for the delectation of a grinning and contemptuous populace, with a sort of attitude of "yes, we know it's all a bit silly so smile all you like" (which, unless I have misunderstood, from the obloquy and hatred I seem to have incurred on that other thread) appears to be the overriding attitude among today's sides.

Once again ~ is that indeed the case, or have I misread the signs or misremembered the past.? And, if it is so, does anyone else out there regret it?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: RTim
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 09:28 AM

Many of us "Serious" Morris dancers have been dancing and enjoying it for years, but ignoring what detractors say. Of course all the while making sure we have a place with our own communities and carefully planning the successful continuation of our tradition.

Tim Radford - ex- Adderbury & Kirtlington Morris teams (among others)


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Folkiedave
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 09:41 AM

I think you have mis read the signs and mis-remembered the past Mike and I would be interested to know how your attitude has been formed.

I go around a lot of morris events - though not dancing nowadays and in the past two years have been to Sidmouth and Whitby as a member of a booked team.

I think the younger dancers that have joined established teams such as Great Western, Berkshire Bedlams, Hammersmith are fine. The ones that have broken off and formed their own teams Jig Crew for example are splendid. Many of the women's teams - whatever dances they do are simply great, Chinwrde being a fine example or Windsor if you like Cotswold. There is some exciting Border morris being done too.

I go to a lot of festivals of various sizes and the best teams I see there are as good as any I have ever seen.

So whence your attitude Mike?


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 10:11 AM

Why, Dave, from some of the responses I got on that other thread. Have you looked at them? They suggested to me that some of those who accused me of 'pomposity', called me 'dinosaur', and so on, seemed to have lost the important distinction of doing it for pleasure ~~ of themselves and the spectators ~~ and doing it to attract 'attitude' in the onlookers. I appreciate there was always a 'fun' aspect, represented by Betty & Hobbyhorse and other such comic elements; but a distinction seems to me to have been lost, in the responses I got there, between wanting the audience to laugh with you at those parts, and inviting them to them to laugh at you because the whole gestalt was somehow a bit comic & OTT. I am happy if I have this wrong and this is not your perception; but that was how I felt the feedback I got there ~ hence this thread.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Folkiedave
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 10:35 AM

I doubt many people would take a mudcat thread all by itself on which to base an opinion about a folk genre - be it dance or song or anything else.

Mine is based on watching morris dancing for the last 35 years.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 10:39 AM

Okay Michael.
I'll try a fairly serious answer before the fight starts, although you seem to start threads with that as the intention.

Morris has been around a long time. At certain times there is documentation which gives some form of snapshot. In essence these contemporary snapshots of information prove that it was known to the people who wrote the documents. We know from some of these that some form of Morris was known in the Court of Henry VIII and that the actor William Kemp danced from London to Norwich (a 9 Day Wonder which actually took four weeks). The text of his pamphlet describing the event can be found at Project Gutenberg BLICKY!.
By the Victorian era it had dropped out of the interest of "writing folks" until seen by Cecil Sharpe.
Most of what we know (or think we know) has been researched or invented in the time between that day and now. What most people do not know, and mostly are not bothered about knowing is which bits are total fabrication. In general a good story beats authenticated facts.
Everyone has their own personal agenda, and academics are no exception. I think part of the academic mindset is an inbuilt belief that what you are studying MUST BE IMPORTANT, because if you didn't think so, you would be wasting your talents. I sometimes suspect that "folklorists" have on occasion been guilty of trying - whether deliberately or without realising - to add "value" to what they report.
In my mind, the key question is "Why were those dancers doing" when observed by Sharpe. Were they trying to uphold a sacred tradition, or were they doing something which they knew allowed them to rattle a collecting box at the doors of the rich people? If you take the latter view, the justification for dancing is to entertain for money.

Most morris teams do not have any direct link to an unbroken "tradition", even in some of the villages where Sharpe made his notes, they were of description given by men too old to dance. The majority of dance teams are either a "revival" of things documented in their locality, "imported" from some other location or "invented". very few can honestly claim a "real" tradition in what they do.
That said, it takes a lot of time, effort and practice to reach a standard of performance that is watchable by an audience. Morris dancers work hard to get there and nobody does it as a bit of "tongue in cheek fun poking". If you don't at least attempt to do it right, you ain't going to do it at all. It is, after all, a performance.
What makes a good performance? Too precise can be boring to watch, too sloppy is an insult to the audience. The most entertaining are often the dance team who perform well enough to be relaxed and smiling. Having fun in a way the audience can see and enjoy.

As for the question of the Pimms Advert. If a film company are willing to pay sensible (or silly) money, it will pay bills such as hire of a hall to practice in, subsidise the cost of attending an expensive gathering or maybe just beer on the day. After all, if it isn't fun, people would not join in the first place.

Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 10:45 AM

Not so much an 'opinion' as an impression, Dave. That is why my thread title is formulated as a question ~~ which I would draw likewise to your attention, Geoff, as earnest of my not wishing to start any fights: tho I can't see why one would start a thread at all if one intended to avoid all controversy whatever, do you?

Thank you both for thoughtful responses.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Will Fly
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 10:52 AM

The majority of dance teams are either a "revival" of things documented in their locality, "imported" from some other location or "invented". very few can honestly claim a "real" tradition in what they do.

That's absolutely my view, Geoff - a quacking good post from you! My friends in the Ditchling Morris tell me that the team was formed - in 1985 - specifically for men and women, outside the all-male confines of the Morris Ring. Though they base their dances on the Cotswold tradition as it's perceived today, they're not hardliners about it. They enjoy the practice, the public dancing, the beer, the music and the social activities - parties, anniversaries, etc. - which spin off from being friends.

All of that can survive a little irony. Some members of the public may snigger at the dancers but many soon realise that, for strength, energy and agility, they'd be on a hiding to nothing if they tried it!


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 11:30 AM

As a one time dancer and existing musician for the (one day a year) Ahram Morris I cannot really regard myself as expert. But I have danced other traditions on occasion (Border and North West) and have loved the whole pageant of Morris for more years than I care to remember. That being said I think you may realise I do care about it. In my opinion it is neither deadly serious nor just a bit of fun.

As has already been pointed out there are very few Morris traditions that are not revivals - Abram being no exception. The longest running tradition, which I think is Abbots Bromley, is unlike most other traditions. Although it is recorded as being danced in 1226! The Goathland Plough Stots, while being able to go back to a revival in 1922, can hardly be considered an ancient tradition. So, those who get uptight about it requiring an almost religious reverence are, again only in my opinion, working under a misapprehension.

On the other hand, it is frustrating to see the traditions of so many other cultures being celebrated and enjoyed while our own home grown offerings are, at best, ignored or, at worst, attacked at or even reviled. A friend and I went to a celebration of immigrant traditions in Salford some time back. It was very enjoyable (with a session in the pub later to rival any!) but, to be honest, the dancing, when compred to the vigour of Cotswold, the wildness of Border or the pure spectacle or North West, was pretty tame.

I think you have got the wrong end of the stick, Michael. Most people do not regard Morris as 'just a bit of fun'. In fact, most people could not really care less about it in the same way that they do not care about Folk music. It is only the people who find it fun and enjoyable that will care about it. Or those who really do despise it of course. Either way - I would suspect that 80% of the population could not give a toss one way or another.

I have not seen th thread you refer to and have no intention of hunting it down. But I have seen many on here that are just about personalities. We have our very own resident trolls - some of whom will defend tradition to the death while others will insist that the world of traditional folk (and I include dance in that) is dull, deadly boring and run by 'the folk police' who will stamp out any measure of enjoyment. I am sure you are sensible enough to see which are genuine viewpoints, which are just arguing for it's own sake and which are just brainless trolls.

At least I think you are! :-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 11:40 AM

Michael - many questions are asked with the sole intention of provoking a fight. "Are you looking at MY girlfriend" being a classic example.
That said - back to your original question. The past in relation to folk music song and tradition has been recently described as an "imagined village", a place seen through rosy spectacles. My personal experience is that reality is a mixture of views, where some people appreciate and enjoy (would even go out of their way to see) morris dancing The other side of the coin is people who ridicule anything outside their immediate interests, whatever they may be. I suspect that both views have existed throughout history, but the proportion of each has changed depending on the ruling fashions.
Currently we are in a phase where anything "trad" is officially ridiculed by the establishment. Probably because we can do it without paying out big amounts of cash to the self-same Establishment. They can't use it to make a profit, so it must be something to be derided.
At least an appearance in a telly advert lets the general population see that it actually exists.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 12:01 PM

I think you have got the wrong end of the stick, Michael. Most people do not regard Morris as 'just a bit of fun===

No, DeG, you have -- in that I was not asking about 'most people' at all; it is not the reaction of the general public that I am aocerned with here, but the reaction that the morrismen themselves are out to get, and what is their attitude to the dance. It is the worry that many of them, themselves, see it only as 'a bit of fun' that concerns me.

Otherwise, many thanks for your helpful reply.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 12:10 PM

Ahhh - OK Michael. Was it a Morris stick I got the wrong end of though? OK - Now that I understand better I still feel you have it wrong - On 2 counts now.

Firstly - Even judging by the postings to date, no-one has said they consider Morris a 'bit of fun'.

Secondly - Even a 'bit of fun' can be a serious business you know! After all, you said yourself that you sing. I would guess that, like many of us, there is no seriosu application behind that singing (Although I do know of some who use singing as speech therapy!) So, if someone says something is a 'but of fun', they may of course mean that it is not a matter of life or death to them but you cannot just discount the comment as trivialising their enjoyment.

D.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 12:11 PM

I'm no expert on morris, but I saw Moulton a year or so ago and they were terrific - a young side (notwithstanding the three generations of the Care family on display) with lots of athleticism and precision, who also seemed to be having plenty of fun - as were the young women watching them. Some of the other younthful sides I've seen recently - whether traditional Cotswold or envelope-pushing Border - have been very good as well.

I think there was a phase when some sides adopted a bit of an 'anything goes' attitude, but that seems less prevalent now. In any case, many of our older traditions seem to have involved a pretty serious booze-up.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Gozz
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 12:26 PM

There are a lot of sound ideas coming out of this thread.
Geoff - You are spot on with the historical analysis and although many of us dancers like to believe that before people started to do it because "they knew allowed them to rattle a collecting box at the doors of the rich people" there was a time when it had a sacred purpose (and that is a debate for another thread I think) this is more of a wish for some and a sense of understanding what it is you do at so many other levels for those who it inspires in that way. The bottom line is that it has been danced to entertain and to collect money for hundreds of years.
However, this entertaining and collecting does seem to have been done with some sense of dignity and I think, pride in ones athletic abilities etc. This is where I feel most dancers would prefer to draw the line. No to being laughed at, but yes to the audience laughing with you if you are trying to do something comic within the performance.

I do not agree that we can differentiate what is a "traditional dance" from any other. How many of the collected dances can be truly verified as traditional? How much of the information collected by Sharp and others can be relied upon when the informants were often paid in beer for each dance they described?
I accept that many of us have now taken that step further into the unknown and written dances quite deliberately; not just in our heads for a pint of beer, but in the dance notes of our own morris teams in an attempt to expand our repetoire with something unique to that team rather than just dance the same dances as others do in what amounts to a re-creation of the snapshot of time in which they were collected. Similar arguements exist in morris to those between the "old traddies" of song and those who welcome new songs into the tradition. At present it would seem that those who accept that morris must move with the times are winning and morris is moving forward into the 21st century. The Morris Ring issues press releases about morris dying out with twenty years but this is not the view of the other two organisations. The Morris Ring teams struggle for members in a way which is not felt by the others. Morris is no longer seen as a historical record to be demonstrated in a prescribed way, but as a living tradition in which many people can feel they can contribute physically and creatively.
The one issue which does worry many of us is whether in handing over the tradition to a younger generation we are also able to hand on the values of ensuring that the public is entertained and that they maintain a dignity in their performance through aspiring to a good standard etc. Here, perhaps is the problem. Like parents trying to hand on their moral values to their children, we struggle to hand on our performance values to the new generation of dancers. Some will uphold them, some will exceed them, but unfortunately in the eyes of many of us, some will "just do it for fun" - meaning their own fun and not the audiences. This is where we sruggle with morris in the 21st century, but then, do we not also struggle with a number of similar issues in the broader society? I know I do. Morris has always moved with the society in which it exists. That is the only way it can survive, so matbe we need to be a little more forthright in combating the worst element of change within the broader society than to demand that morris alone stays the same?


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 07:12 PM

In the interests of clarity I'd just like to point out that at no stage in the other thread was there any suggestion from anyone that the Morris was regarded as mere "fun", or that any dancers were going to be poking fun at it or themselves. Nor indeed that the ad men were going to, except inasmuch as the series of ads (of which this is to be part) would be linking Pimms with a number of peculiarly British traditions. Using "peculiar" in the sense of singular and noteworthy. There would, yes, be humour involved in this - we British are good at self-deprecation - but that's a far cry from making a mockery of something. The notion that they would be (willing or unwilling)objects of derision and ridicule came from Michael himself, rather than the original request or any of the subsequent clarifications.

I don't want to morph this thread, with its fascinating historical perceptions, into the other one, but as Michael has described me elsewhere as "reprehensible" and suggested that merely by passing on the information that an ad agency was looking for dancers I was asking dancers to "prostitute their art" I do want to be clear on this thread too.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 11:54 PM

"Pimms adverts tend to be tongue in cheek, so whoever appears in it is likely to be made to look silly. Morris don't need it."
----
In interests of clarity, as you say, Anne: above post appeared on other thread before any involvement of mine, for all said in final sentence of your 1st para. I was by no means the only one to express reservations.

But I take on board what you say and am very glad to have your input here.

Best regards

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Peter (Guest)
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 06:27 AM

Most morris dancing is not 'fun' - you only have to look at the faces of the dancers and musos to see that very clearly!


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 07:50 AM

Peter. You must have seen a true Traditional team. They are by definition not allowed to smile. The ones I dance with only stop smiling when the pain gets too much :-}
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 09:36 AM

From: Geoff the Duck"
Currently we are in a phase where anything "trad" is officially ridiculed by the establishment. Probably because we can do it without paying out big amounts of cash to the self-same Establishment."

Which you could take as making performing Morris and trad stuff generally an act of dissidence. Seems OK to me.

whether the Establishment - with actual power - cares one way or the other is open to research. What is obvious is that it's a gift to lazy media types.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 10:14 AM

"Peter. You must have seen a true Traditional team. They are by definition not allowed to smile."

You've obviously never been to Bampton.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:34 PM

I've watched the video on Youtube of Hook Eagle dancing to Rickett's Hornpipe, and singing "What a lovely day..." while participating in what they call 'Knob Cracking'. It's side-splittingly funny to the onlookers and to the Side themselves. I've watched Border Morris hundreds of times at festivals, and the sides are always laughing and joking while dancing. Of course it's fun, while at the same time being a serious tradition ardently maintained. I've recently become hooked on Molly Dancing, and (for example Ouse Washes) the sides are extremely funny to look at, the men dressed as women with enormous busts and the strange jerky dance movements are certainly NOT meant to be taken seriously! I do feel one can be too earnest about it all. It's heartlifting and joyous, and always makes me laugh and feel better.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:36 PM

ahhh.. timely

The Askew Sisters documentary Still Folk Dancing After All These Years is on BBC4 at the moment


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:39 PM

soory brain fart

it is the Unthanks


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:40 PM

And what about the Bacup Coconut Dancers? Don't tell me they aren't interested in making folk laugh!


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:40 PM

That's funny - there's one by the Unthank Sisters too! :-)


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:41 PM

Sorry VT - but you were very quick!! X


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:44 PM

Eliza ~~ agree entirely; but would stress again the difference between people laughing with you {GREAT} and people laughing at you {NOT}.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:45 PM

Dave, my head knew what it was, but the message didn't get to my fingers

or vice versa


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:47 PM

... & would add, for clarity, WITH you when you want them to, as distinct from AT you when you don't.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:49 PM

I love Morris more than I can describe and if I didn't have arthritis I would so join a side, if they'd have me.

7 years enforced tap, ballet and pointe proved me a very poor dancer.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:55 PM

I've sometimes confessed my obsession with all types of Morris to acquaintances, who've scoffed and dismissed it as silly, but it's only because they've never actually seen it for themselves. There'll always be some folk who, in their ignorance, condemn a tradition. My view is to let them get on with it! There are far more of those who laugh WITH than AT, in my opinion. I certainly don't think Morris will die out, I've seen one or two sides with an asian or a black dancer, and also young children dancing superbly, it's for everyone. Let 'em laugh, they're missing a great deal of pleasure.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Smokey.
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 07:36 PM

If the spectators are supposed to be laughing with the dancers, what are they all supposed to be laughing at?


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 12:53 AM

At what the dancers are doing which they intend to be funny which = laughing with; NOT at the bits that aren't intended to be so, which = laughing at the tradition, and the concept, as a whole, regarded among too many as something intrinsically absurd.

My point in OP-ing this thread was that some seemed to me to emerge from the Dancers Wanted For Pimms Ad thread as perhaps prone facilely to pander to the latter attitude as an unworthy popularity-winner at the expense of the tradition; & that indeed that was the aspect that the ad would be aimed at exploiting.

I think you knew this really. Smokey, & your question was a windup -- or else it was not - er - right bright.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 06:12 AM

And what is this nonsense about 'mere' fun?

Fun is very necessary and important.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 06:22 AM

Agreed, OV ~~ but not the only thing that is, as it seemed to me some were assuming. Hence the quotes around the 'mere'.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 07:19 AM

If the dancers aren't enjoying themselves, the audience won't be.

If a side is made up of folks who take it all very seriously, only wanting their audience to smile in the correct parts, they won't have much of an audience, to be honest, because they'll bore the pants off them.

Yer average punter knows sod all about Morris Dancing, or the traditions within it, but you need to get them interested in the first place, in order for them to start looking deeper, sparking their curiousity...

The Morris Sides that get me watching are the ones like The Shropshire Bedlams who do make it fun, captivating even...The ones I walk past are those just 'dancing'...boringly...yawn...probably performing every single step in the correct manner, but....yawn...yawn...yawn....

Most people today think Morris Dancing is bonkers. They find it embarrassing and weird, so the more that can be done to bring people *back* to it, the better...and some of the younger teams bubble with enthusiasm and ingenuity, making folks walk..run..in their direction, and surely that's a good thing, as is a Pimms advert, because again, the more 'normal' in society that Morris Dancing becomes, the more it will be accepted en masse as part of our heritage once more, and the embarrassment about it will fade into the distance....over the Pimms... :0)


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 08:26 AM

Lizzie Cornish the First - 'Pimms advert, because again, the more 'normal' in society that Morris Dancing becomes, the more it will be accepted en masse as part of our heritage once more'

But are we doing it as 'heritage' or just because we do it, albeit as the local traditional dance? And do we give a monkey's about being generally accepted? Nice to have friendly people about when you're dancing, of course. And we usually do.

I keep thinking it was Thomas Hardy who wrote that really traditional stuff was done because it had to be done but revivalist stuff carried a massive burden of zealous enthusiasm.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 08:42 AM

For once I found myself in complete agreement with Lizzie Cornish, and would echo every word ... right up to the part about the Pimms advert.

Getting the mickey taken by a bunch of coke-addled pony-tailed pseuds from an ad company advertising a drink for Hooray Henries isn't going to make the Morris more 'normal' in society, it's just going to reinforce the tired old self-feeding cliche that the national display dance tradition of England is something to be looked down on, mocked and derided. That's not a sense-of-humour failure or a po-faced seriousness about the Morris - it's just a weary tedious certainty.

BTW if any advertising types don't like the description of themselves as coke-addled pony-tailed pseuds, remember it was only a bit of fun, only a bit of harmless teasing ... but it's not quite so side-splittingly amusing when you're the target, is it?


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 08:53 AM

Oh do keep up sfmans, the last pony tail was seen in an ad agency in 1984. On the wider point, if I were in Morris I'd avoid the Pimms ad like the plague. The is no spoon long enough to sup with those devils. They will make you look a prat.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Green Man (Yes the real one)
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 10:25 AM

Morris has always been 'fun'. Anyone suggesting that its a serious pagan ritual dance or anything other than getting swaty with your friends is on entirely the wrong track.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Upstreeter
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 11:35 AM

From Old Vermin - I keep thinking it was Thomas Hardy who wrote that really traditional stuff was done because it had to be done but revivalist stuff carried a massive burden of zealous enthusiasm.

Amen to that.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 12:00 PM

Presumably there are those posting here who were not happy with the mockumentary, "Morris: A life with bells on". Looks like you'll be happier with the glow around "Way of the Morris", a non-mockumentary (as in, real documentary film).

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 02:31 PM

As has been discussed over and over both within this thread and in others is that Morris is not a long tradition. It has never been and never will be a mass entertaiment. Just like folk music. So it does astound me that people still believe that something will bring people 'back' to the true path of Morris dancing on the village green, rosy-cheeked children skipping around the maypole and be-smocked rustics singing fol-de-rols at the drop of a hat in Ye Olde Inne.

Morris dance is a marvelous thing in my eyes. I have been involved since the early 1970s. It is spectacular, fun and, yes, has played an important part of my life. But I know it will never replace the X-Factor on a Saturday night for most people. I would not, however, dream of telling anyone that my form of entertainment is any better or worse that theirs. Nor would I reason that anything as trite as someone taking it more seriously than me would do some sort of harm to Morris, Folk music or the price of fish!

D.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 06:01 PM

I have seen morris sides (supposedly keeping up the tradition, but actually revival) that have shuffled and hardly lifted their feet, but I was blown away, decades ago, by the athleticism of Herga, Hammersmith, Old Spot (and their feud at Sidmouth 1974 with Albion), Great Western.... and Hammersmith and Great Western are still great sides!

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 06:22 PM

"As has been discussed over and over both within this thread and in others is that Morris is not a long tradition." DeG
===
Another of those bits of folklore about folklore. There was indeed, as we all know, a long gap, & a revival, & C Sharp & Wm Kimber & all that ...

... but a picture from around 1620 in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, shows Morris Dancers beside The Thames at Richmond. In the picture can be seen the same characters as you will find today - dancers sporting bell pads and knee breeches, a musician playing a pipe and tabor, a hobby horse, and a man collecting cash from an audience. This picture hangs, somewhat incongruously I always think, in the museum's Armoury, if ever you go looking for it, one of a pair of early C17 panoramic Thameside views.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 05:45 AM

If no-one else wants to prostitute their art and the whole of the English Folk Tradition for the sake of money - I reckon I know of one or two teams who will.

We don't know what the advert will be (though sfmans shows as many prejudices about advertising people as he imagines they do about morris dancing).

And we don't know what older morris dancers would have thought or done about it either.

I believe the cash nexus has been involved in dancing before. Headington Quarry anyone?


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: theleveller
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 06:32 AM

"a bunch of coke-addled pony-tailed pseuds from an ad company"

Ah, how I miss those heady days – quite brought a tear to my eye. But you forgot the three-hour lunches and endless rounds of Stolly and Bolly before heading down to Annabel's in the 911. I think it's time for an advertising pseuds' revival. Bloody bankers seem to be the only ones having any fun these days.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: theleveller
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 07:15 AM

BTW, if there are any morris teams out there who would like to employ their own advertising agency, I'll be happy to oblige.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 12:53 PM

Agreed Michael - There is indeed eveidence of Morris dance going back to the 1600s. Along with the Robin Hood Plays and various other bits of Elizabethan entertainment. I will re-phrase my comment for the sake of the more pedantic amongst us.

No Morris team currently in existance can claim a long tradition.

Is that better?

But the answer is still no - Morris has not become mere 'fun'. Neither has it become a serious pastime, an academic subject, a deep mystery or the cause of fertile lands. It is, and always has been, Morris. Nothing more or less than a pastime that some people enjoy, some people do not and most people care little about.

D.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: RTim
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 01:10 PM

David - No that is not true either.

Bampton Morris claim hundreds of years, and the Horns at Abingdon have a very early date
attached to them (forget exact!)

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: RTim
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 01:13 PM

David - just checked, Abingdon Horns date is 1700!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Silas
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 01:15 PM

David

Abbiots Bromley horns have been carbon dated to about 1200.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 01:17 PM

From: theleveller - '"a bunch of coke-addled pony-tailed pseuds from an ad company"
Ah, how I miss those heady days – quite brought a tear to my eye. But you forgot the three-hour lunches and endless rounds of Stolly and Bolly before heading down to Annabel's in the 911. '

Worked in an office across Whitfield street from Saatchi's about twenty years ago. There were impressive crowds drinking outside the pub on a fine day and having shouted conversations with colleagues on the upper floors. They were probably on beer, though.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 03:26 PM

Tim - I have already mentioned Abbots Bromley as dating back to 1226 - Far earlier than the Ock Street Horns at Abingdon (1700) which were originaly the cause of a fracas rather than a Morris dance!:-) But we know that neither is an unbroken tradition. As to Bampton - I am not overy familiar but was bought a pint in the Elephant(?) By Francis Shergolds brother who then paid for both mine and his with a bag of what looked like turnips! He did not tell me anything about Morris but told me there was an 'Aunt Sally' competition going on that night. One of the strangest sights I have seen - Skittles in reverse. Can't think of anywhere else that throws sticks at a ball! Oh - from Bampton's own web site I got this snippet though -

"Claims have often been made that the performance of Morris dancing in Bampton at anything up to six hundred years. While this may actually be true, there is simply no evidence to support such a claim. The first written reference discovered (so far, at least) occurs as late as 1847, although that source clearly indicates that the performances by the dancers were a regular annual feature of Bampton life at that date. "

So - yes, a couple of hundred years at the outside for a handful of sides. Hardly a widely practiced ancient tradition. Even if it were so there is certainly no evidence of whether the dancers took it seriously or, as we do, as a trivial pastime! Which reminds me...

When it comes down to it, Morris (or Folk Music or Football for that matter) is indeed a trivial pursuit. It will never stop famine or save lives. It may help a few people get together for a social gathering but it is hardly world news is it? Maybe some people do take it too seriously after all?

Cheers

D.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Roger Green
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 01:10 AM

Can i say just one thing we are sides of morrismen NOT TEAMS. You dont have a flock of cows!! Any way i think the morris should be done well and lets have fun, but lets not forget our roots and were it all came from and why!! but today is today and we old guys have to remember there is no respect for anything lod done by the young, only if we teach them, and if they want to listen.so its up to us boys!!


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 01:42 AM

Rogr Green Sorry back again, with bad spelling, i have records back to 1100 and many before and after that, as iv been doing alot of reserch. Soon i will write a book, and it will be funny and to the point. Thanks Tim remember old me.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: GUEST,Chris P
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 04:50 AM

"Can i say just one thing we are sides of morrismen. You dont have a flock of cows!!"
The side I play for are all morriswomen.
"were it all came from and why"
contoversialist, eh? :-)


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 05:10 PM

I have seen a flock of cows! I scared them off by waving my golf cue at them. And, Rogr Green Sorry back again, I have records going back to 0925 - In fact, I believe I once played one at 0617 so, yah boo sucks to you :-P

DeG


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 31 Mar 11 - 05:09 AM

Quite frankly Dave, collective nouns for groups of animals and birds are with a very small number of exceptions have been made up in the past 20 years so they can be asked as questions in pub quizzes. Only yesterday on a kids telly "zoo" programme they told me that a group of "tapirs" is called a "candle". I know you use tapers to light candles, but personally I would go for a "snuffer" of tapers.
Quack!
Geoff the (tails up of) Duck.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 31 Mar 11 - 05:13 AM

Not sure what happened to the grammar in that first sentence. I think I must have put in a "klatch" of mistakes.
SEE It's EASY making up collectives. All I have to do now is put it in a pub quiz and in another year you will ALL be making klatches when you write...
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Has morris become mere 'fun'?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 31 Mar 11 - 05:14 AM

Oh, and by the way - the morris team I dance with is definitely an Offside!
Quack!
GtD.


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