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Help me undestand Morris Dancing

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lloyd61 23 Sep 99 - 11:38 AM
lloyd61 23 Sep 99 - 11:40 AM
Steve Parkes 23 Sep 99 - 11:47 AM
MMario 23 Sep 99 - 11:52 AM
Jack (Who is called Jack) 23 Sep 99 - 11:59 AM
selby 23 Sep 99 - 01:04 PM
Jon Freeman 23 Sep 99 - 01:37 PM
Bill Galbraith 23 Sep 99 - 02:03 PM
bobby's girl 23 Sep 99 - 03:16 PM
emily 23 Sep 99 - 03:35 PM
poet 23 Sep 99 - 07:14 PM
Jo Taylor 23 Sep 99 - 07:37 PM
jon a 23 Sep 99 - 09:15 PM
WyoWoman 23 Sep 99 - 11:05 PM
Joe Offer 23 Sep 99 - 11:32 PM
Tom on Comfort 24 Sep 99 - 12:26 AM
Jon Freeman 24 Sep 99 - 10:50 AM
Llanfair 24 Sep 99 - 11:05 AM
Melodeon 24 Sep 99 - 04:52 PM
Penny S. 25 Sep 99 - 10:41 AM
25 Sep 99 - 04:57 PM
Rana 25 Sep 99 - 04:59 PM
wildlone 25 Sep 99 - 05:08 PM
poet 25 Sep 99 - 06:02 PM
T in Oklahoma 26 Sep 99 - 01:32 PM
dwo 27 Sep 99 - 03:53 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 27 Sep 99 - 12:31 PM
folk1234 27 Sep 99 - 12:57 PM
selby 27 Sep 99 - 01:56 PM
dwo 27 Sep 99 - 03:46 PM
Graham Pirt 27 Sep 99 - 04:17 PM
bobby's girl 27 Sep 99 - 06:30 PM
annamill 27 Sep 99 - 08:13 PM
Andy 28 Sep 99 - 03:15 AM
Rana 28 Sep 99 - 07:27 AM
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Roger the skiffler 28 Sep 99 - 03:23 PM
Tom on Comfort 29 Sep 99 - 01:05 AM
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T in Oklahoma (a.k.a. Okiemockbird) 01 Oct 99 - 02:28 PM
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Subject: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: lloyd61
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:38 AM

Morris Dancing

Please help me understand this thing.

The one time I watch a Morris Dance exhibit, it appeared to be a bunch of extroverts, banging BIG sticks. They also had one member working the crowed, I did not know if he was part of the dance, collecting donations or picking pockets. I will say the music was captivating and the dancers seamed to enjoy being beat upon. No one seamed to get hurt so I can only assume that it is choreographed like the WWC. So, tell me about the history of the dance, why the big sticks, where is it danced, and was the music written for the dance or did the music come first.

One last question is this some form of primitive mating dance? It did not effect me that way, but I am in my 60's, then again the young ladies with BIG sticks did get my attention.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: lloyd61
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:40 AM

I think it is understand not undestand.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:47 AM

Sounds to me as though you've grasped it very well!

I'm not going to get into an argument with any Morris Dancers I'll leave them to explain the finer points.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: MMario
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:52 AM

THe only thing I know about Morris Dancing is that many people THINK it is a tradition derived from anciant celtic and druidic practices, but was actually introduced to england from spain in the early 1500's


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Jack (Who is called Jack)
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:59 AM

Morris dancing is an outlet for people with an inborn desire to swing clubs at other living things. Greenpeace should intruduce it to the Inuit. They'd probably stop hunting those baby seals.

Kidding!...I'm Kidding dammit, put down the damn stick OK?

Geez, for a guy walking around in a bowler hat with a thousand bells on his legs you sure are touchy.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: selby
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 01:04 PM

Morris had very troubled Childhood that why you can not understand him


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 01:37 PM

lloyd61, One thing to realise with Morris dancing is that there are various traditions. I might be wrong on this but as far as I know the stick dancing comes from the Border tradition and has more to do with fighting. The Cotswold tradition uses hankerchiefs and I believe has something to do with old pagan fertiltity rites. The North Western dances I believe had something to do with people wearing clogs and walking along cobbled streets in the north of England.

As I said, this might be wrong (and there are probably more traditions than I have mentioned). I used to belong to a couple of Morris sides but I used to play melodeon and occasionally dance but I never gave much to thought about where it came from. To me, I used to like a lot of the tunes and it often provided a good excuse (not that I really needed one) for a good day out and a few pints.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Bill Galbraith
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 02:03 PM

I think it's safe to say that many Morris Dancers are extroverts. But certainly not all. Other than that, generalizations are risky. And it is NOT known how or where the dances originated. A great deal of learned research has been done and long tomes have been written to prove "conclusively" that the dances came from Spain, or Croatia or Mars. The fact is, no one knows. Apparently the dances were traditionally done by men only, but even that is not absolutely certain. We know from written accounts and a preserved pictorial window that the dances predate Shakepeare by 100 years or so, but it's not known how much further back they go. A week? The Roman Conquest? The dawn of time?

Some traditions use short sticks, others use medium length sticks, others very long sticks. Some use hankies, some use sticks and hankies, while in others the dancers have nothing at all in their hands. Are the sticks phallic symbols? Maybe, maybe not. Most sides have a fool (who is traditionally the best dancer) who skillfully weaves in and out of the dances and works the crowd. Or picks their pockets. Good Morris dancers put lots of effort into working out their movements. Some dances have been handed down, others are being made up daily.

Some of us believe that there is some sort of fertility aspect to the dance, others see it simply as a folk adaptation of courtly dance, and still others are "absolutely positive" that the dances are a survival of a general European tradition of pageants celebrating Christian victories over the Moors. (Morisco, Moreska, etc.)There is not even general agreement over the source or original meaning of the name "Morris". Do your own research and come up with your own theory, if you like. No one can know for certain. And the ODGs (Old Dead Guys) aren't talking. But people argue all of these points daily, and passionately.

Like other folk traditions of Britain, Morris is a very rich vein, with tremendous variations wherever danced throughout the world. To learn more, a good site to start with is Mainly Morris Dancing at http://www.argonet.co.uk/users/johnmaher/mmd/

There is also an ongoing discussion archive at http://web.syr.edu/~hytelnet/mddl/archives.html

By the way, this Boxing Day (December 26) is the 100-year anniversary of the day that folklorist Cecil Sharp encountered one of the few remaining sides, Headington Quarry Morris Men. He became intrigued by their performance, and he spearheaded a great revival of Morris which has led to its being danced around the globe today. Look for various celebrations of that event to take place this year. So is he a hero to today's Morris dancers? Well, he is to some. Others say he was a self-serving jerk who imposed his own theories and did great damage...etc. etc. etc.

With Morris, the controversies never end.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: bobby's girl
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 03:16 PM

The style of dance which Bill describes seems to be Cotswold morris which originates (not surprisingly) in the villages of the English Cotswolds, and tends to be what most peope think of as Morris ie bells and hankies. There are several other traditions which also come under the Morris umbrella, including Border morris which is the tradition danced with blackened faces, and wearing ragged jackets. Probably the best Border team around is John Kirkpatrick's team, Shropshire Bedlams. The style danced in clogs comes from the Northwest of England, while stave dancing comes from Somerset and Dorset.Check out the Morris Federation site for further info.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: emily
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 03:35 PM

My Morris side did a dance in which we used longish sticks (3-3.5') to hit the ground. Someone from the side told me that this was done to "wake up Mother Earth" as planting was going on. But as Bill points out, who really knows?

Jon, you are exactly right. Morris dancing provides a good excuse for a day out and pints of beer. And great exercise and camaradie. If anyone out there is intrigued by this tradition, next time you see a team out dancing, ask about joining. Chances are they are looking for new members and will appreciate your interest. Musicians are usually wanted/needed too.

Some sides don't want to dance "mixed", men and women together. Others are, dare I say, more open-minded? The sides I like to watch best are the ones that are visibly enjoying themselves rather than worrying too much about tradition, precision, and accuracy. To quote my favorite bumper: Shut up and dance!

Lloyd61, don't feel bad if you are still confused. Your questions are perfectly reasonable. Too bad nobody knows the answers.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: poet
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 07:14 PM

I feel that jasper carrot has the best answer to this unanswerable question. Morris dancing (great stompin feet)causes a vibration in the earth driving Moles (great destroyers of crops and lawns) to the surface. the sticks are for bashing them on the heads. the hankies for cleaning up the mess. It never worked but the free beer was good so the tradition was maintained.
graham


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Jo Taylor
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 07:37 PM

MMario - no-one knows!

Jon, there are Cotswold stick dances too...

Bobby's Girl - there is a strong suspicion at present that John Kirkpatrick invented Border Morris - but who gives a stuff - it's great to dance and if anyone invents a new tradition he's the best one to do so! I danced Cotswold with Glory of the West and played for Great Western & Dartington - at Christmas, GW & Glory dance Border as a mixed side.

The best place to go for more info is Mainly Morris Dancing - oops, Bill G already did that one - mine should be a clicky, though, so I'll leave it. Nice reply, Bill - I think C# was well-intended but he only saw men doing it - I do believe there is photographic evidence of mixed sides from the last century? Anyone who doesn't think women should dance Morris ought to see Windsor - some of the most energetic Cotswold dancing in existence.

Steve, darling, can I explain my finer points to you sometime??

Jo Taylor


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: jon a
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 09:15 PM

I think it's a case of who cares? and pass the ale!

seriously though, I believe that it's down to favourite theory as it seems the origins are lost in time.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: WyoWoman
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:05 PM

Poet-- I think yours is by far the most plausible explanation. I've never seen this phenomenon, so I'm now completely intrigued. We don't get a lot or Morris dancing in Wyoming. And here they just use semi-automatic rifles to dispose of small fur-bearing creatures that live in the ground.

ww


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:32 PM

San Rogers had some interesting things to say about Morris Dancers - click here. Guess he didn't think much of 'em.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Tom on Comfort
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:26 AM

Morris Dancers are the Rodney Dangerfields of the folk world ("Don't get no respect"). But the music is so much fun, and jumping around exuberantly with ribbons & bells on is (it seems to me) just the way to enjoy it.

It's great to not have the definitive answers to something, so you can argue about it (pleasantly, now) and never have to end. It's more fun to just play 'em & dance! For all who will...

Tom


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 10:50 AM

Tom, glad you said Morris DANCERS - the musicians often have a good time making fun of them as well!

Emily,with regards camaraderie, I was always a bit of a misfit in the first side I belonged to and this used to become most apparent when it came to us going to a day of dance. This side had a tendency to want to keep themselves to themselves and I wanted to be talking to and playing with other musicains and I'd spend much of my time tagging along with members of other sides. This caused them a few problems finding me when they needed me (We were always short of musicians, except drummers, we has several of those and they were all experts at playing out of time and drowning the melody players out)

Heres a theory: that the all male bit was a cleverly created myth so the men to go out and drink without their partners. Seriously everybody has their own ideas about what is best but personaly, I prefer mixed sides to the all men and all ladies and agian prefer the sides that are visibly enjoying themselves to those who appear to take it all to seriously.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Llanfair
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:05 AM

Men who do morris dancing usually have great legs!!! I can't be doing with the Cotswold dancers, but the Bedlams are WONDERFUL, really noisy and scary. Hwyl, Bron.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Melodeon
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 04:52 PM

Morris Dancing - like the peace of God, passeth all understanding.

Melodeon, whose morris dancing days are well and truely over.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Penny S.
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 10:41 AM

I wanted to join in once, but the local examples could be seen with badges saying "Knockers to Women's Morris", and now my knees have packed up. The lot I saw having most fun were punks, with safety-pins etc, and instead of banging sticks, they mimed (?) head butting and knee kicking.

However, I'm really posting to say that I have also seen local Sikhs doing Indian (from India) dances with rows of male dancers, bells on the legs, and pretty silk hankies which had figures like the moves of Morris, tough the footwork was different. Also, a film about North America included some dancing from the area first invaded by the Spanish with some people who may have been native American or mixed race doing something also much like Morris (I believe the arguement was that it was learned from the Spanish, which ties up with the Moorish connection.)

Penny


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From:
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 04:57 PM

Hi,

Good to see such an interest in Morris on Mudcat. Now maybe I can persuade my side - Green Fiddle Morris, Toronto to come out to the Mudcat Tavern for a Monday night dance out. We actually practice at the TRANZAC on Monday's but Rick and Heather (aka Duckboots) don't usually get there until we've finished (now I always thought they got to the TRANZAC at 10.05 because of the show but I might be wrong)

The Mainly Morris site is good to start as already pointed out. (I had to go back there to get the Green Fiddle web site which is below)

http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Alley/9093/index.html

You may be curious to go there - there is our version of the history - which is actually confusing (the history that is not our version). It is mentioned as early as 15th century. The Moorish connection is often mentioned but I don't think there is any definitive proof.

Cecil Sharpe did help revival when he met William Kimber at Headington Quarry in 1899. There is a great CD just released on William Kimber including lots of old recordings. Interestingly, a woman - Mary Neal, did much to help the revival and there are photographs of her all-women's side demonstrating Morris dancing. A rift occured about 1909, possibly about the issue of style and authenticity (I have to read the booklet more). The Morris Ring started in 1925, and Ring Sides are all male. Numerous women and mixed sides do exist, Green Fiddle is a mixed side.

We had a great time touring parts of England in 1997 and danced with several Ring sides, which was great - maybe attitudes are beginning to change. The picture of me in bbc's mudcat resource is of that tour at Stonehenge.

The style of Morris we do is Cotswold, which includes both Hanky and Stick. Border Morris is slightly different and seems to be faster and more frenzied. Each cotswold tradition is named after the village they originated. We do Bampton, Bleddington, Lichfield (has a cathedral so not really a village and Fieldtown (which is from 2 diferent villages I think). There are many others - Adderbury, Sherbourne, Headington etc.

Why do people do it - usually fertility rite stuff - May morning - dancing up the sun etc. Probably the best answer I've heard/read was when a radio person asked an old Morris dancer why (decades ago). The reply was "it's a good reason for a piss-up" or words to that effect.

Well, this is my longest posting! Trust it wasn't too boring, now were did I put my bells...

Cheers Rana


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Rana
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 04:59 PM

Two posts in one day! Previous one (if you didn't gues) was from me - I forgot the "from" field

Jingling away in embaressment

Rana


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: wildlone
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 05:08 PM

bobbys girl,does the portland morris consist of uphill droping stone on the underhill lot,or under hill droving underground mutton uphill. yours**BG**.WL.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: poet
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 06:02 PM

Hi Wyowoman
It is my experience of musicians who are notorious for pointing there instruments at any and everyone for no discernible reason and should therefore never be allowed any contact with any automatic weapons.After all look at the damage they do with drum machines. good mole hunting girl!


graham


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: T in Oklahoma
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 01:32 PM

The earliest reference to the morris dance that I know of is from someone's will & testament written in the 1450s. The evidence for morris's direct connection to ancient paganism is zero, zilch, zip, unless our intrepid hokipokologists are able to come up with something.

One of the most interesting morris dances in terms of props is the Horn Dance of Abbot's Bromley, Staffordshire, which uses neither sticks nor hankies, but reindeer antlers. The antlers themselves are thought to be much older than the dance. My guess is they were bought from a travelling peddlar who was relieved to unload such useless gear on the suckers at Abbot's Bromley. The "suckers," though, may be thought to have gotten a good deal. Their town's dance has some of the the most unique dance-props in England.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: dwo
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 03:53 AM

'Tis my understanding that the horns used in the Abbotts Bromley dance are "Working copies" of a Master Set kept in the village church. Round about 1960 someone managed to get permission to carbon-date the Master Set. Result was 1060 AD +/- 30 years. Don't know if that figure is corrected to the tree ring dating. Point is, they is *OLD*!

'Tother note about Abbott's Bromley is the music. The tune almost always used in North America was sent to Sharp in the '20's by a clergyman who said it had been sent to him many years before. Lovely slow haunting melody quite unlike anything else in English Folk Music. Peter Kennedy, who danced under Sharp at the time, spearheaded the creation of a dance to that music using the figures collected from Abbott's Bromley. But when someone finally went back to Abbott's Bromley and played the lovely haunting tune for the musicians there, they'd never heard it before. They always played something lively, like Yankee Doodle.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 12:31 PM

Or Yellow Submarine, according to my favorite folk iconoclast, Dudley Laufman.
I dance for the friendships, for the connection to the community, and for the music. If I could play well enough to accompany instead of dance, I probably would! My team likes to bash sticks and we also wave hankies (Fieldtown and Headington, for those who know what I'm talking about!). We also like feeling connected to an old tradition in a fairly young country.
Besides, it's the only activity I've ever engaged in where a passerby looked at us dancing and said, "Wow, what great muscle definition!"

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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: folk1234
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 12:57 PM

'Twas just moments after the silent setting of the sun and the pinewood forest was awash in the hush of early eve. However in the dance pavilion the contradancers and the musicians were alive with the buoyant lilt and lift of the moment. Suddnely the music stilled, as someone shouted in disbelief, "Hark, hear it, over here". All scurried in urgent concern to the South side of the pavillion and listened... listened.... then heard... perhaps heard, the faint mystical call of small pipes and flute. The sound faded, then returned, then faded. A strange silence fell over the contradancers and musicians as they now all heard and felt the slow, haunting, and hair-raising notes of the distant music. Then from the black pinewood, barely heard over the music, came a faint clicking sound. The clicking was preceeded by mutted crash, then again the clicking. Suddenly the pinewood came alive as into the clearing came 6 or 8 deer, all with great stand of horn. As if on cue, they rushed a selected opponent, horns crashed in furious impact, then the horns clicked as the beasts pirouetted in graceful, dance-like battle. Once again, as if on cue, they disengaged and retreated. Again and again the rush, the crash, the gentle ballet, and then repose as the haunting music became louder. In an instant the beast carried their battle into the black velvet of pinewood night. Suddenly, into the clearing danced a beautiful maiden followed by the hunters, the piper and the flutist. All danced to the slow, mystical music as they pursued their prey, still heard in the distant pinewood dark. In a momment they too were gone with the exception of the evil-eyed jester who danced in clumsy parody. Then he too was swallowed by the night. As the sound of battle and music faded the contradancers and musicians stared in wide-eyed gaze and in dream-like trance at now empty clearing. Or, what had they seen? What was it they heard? None had ever before witnessed such battle and dance, violent, yet beautiful. And the music, it was from far away and long ago. As the music faded, it soon seemed to be coming from all around. All rushed, or were drawn by forces unknown, to the North side of the pavilion. Some who arrived first later claimed to have once again seen the hunters, others claimed also to have seen the deer. Still no one moved nor spoke as the black curtain of night once again fell on the pinewood forest. THIS IS HOW I REMEMBER THE ABBOT'S BROMLEY DANCE FROM FOLKMUSIC WEEK AT PINEWOODS CAMP IN 1990. I SHALL NEVER FORGET IT.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: selby
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 01:56 PM

This weekend at a small gathering in our area as a finale the 8 teams invoved did a mass dance of DYLWYN with a band of approx twenty muscians we are talking a real proper BUZZZ. Lots & lots of beer was consumed new friendships forged & a Bl***y good time had by all.That's morris dancing for ME. Keith


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: dwo
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 03:46 PM

I had a similar and equally unforgettable experience of the Abbott's Bromley Horn Dance, at Mendocino English Week a couple of summers ago. And Peter Kennedy, when first performing the dance he helped work out, wrote of a tremendously powerful experience for dancers and audience alike. So here in North America we have created a powerful, meaningful and moving tradition. It is quite distinct from the "real" tradition as it has evolved back in Abbott's Bromley. Both are alive, growing, changing. But no one should mistake the North American tradition for an authentic survival of pagan ritual.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Graham Pirt
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 04:17 PM

There are some around who think that "Morris Dancing" is an oxymoron!


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: bobby's girl
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 06:30 PM

Graham Pirt - I shall take you to task for that remark when next I see you. Wildlone - If we saw any underground mutton we'd have to stop dancing and go home! The Morris actually combines Tophill and Underhill amicably, with a few Kimberlins included. (We have now totally confused the rest of the world!)


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: annamill
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 08:13 PM

This sounds very interesting. Is Morris Dancing anything like the dance done in Germany, where they slap their feet and each other?

Will there be any Morris Dancing done at FSGW? Are there any groups in New Jersey or around it?

Love, annap


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Andy
Date: 28 Sep 99 - 03:15 AM

I only look a these pages rarely and follow odd threads through. Great to see - at last - a bunch of reasonably minded morris based souls, concentrating on enjoying the dance and not worrying about 'preserving the traditions in aspic' especially good to see the admission that the original roots of the dance cannot be truly traced and that there are a number of options. The main thread of the discussion should have caused many of the old die hard Morris ring members to turn prematurely (assuming that some of them aren't actually dead already !) in their graves. Sadly much of it all was no help to the original enquiry. The answer seems to be we don't B Know but we damm well enjoy it.

I am currently working on a 21st Centuryt version of the Tardis partly intended to help understand the roots of this tradition. It may even give us the chance to get a true perspective on Cecil Sharpe as good intentioned though he was he was wrong in many areas but hell he was our first archivist in real terms of something which was dying. So any more kwestions and I would be pleased to take them along on my first voyage when ever (or is it if ever) I complete this damm Portaloo. Trouble is it keeps turning upside down and flooding when you land.

Also good to see the girls getting recognition. When girls (I hope that is not offensive to our female alter egos ?) first started at Reading Uni here there was a lot of uproar about Wimin doin Morris (back int '70s) But cheers to Windsor who joined us on our first tour. Sorry I am a man but what the hell no one is perfect !!!!!

My final point is can you all continue to spread the word about enjoyment of the dance - I'm sure the original enquirer must have seen a good side as I have heard so many comments lately about how boring it can all look when all these old men prance about with serious expresssion on their faces. I'M sure the original dancers way back whenever and wherever did not wear ballet shoes and iron their hankies absolutely flat !!!! Still the Portaloo will prove or disprove that theory.

Now that should start a row !

Tarrraaa

A. XX


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Rana
Date: 28 Sep 99 - 07:27 AM

Hi Andy,

I wonder if we ever bumped into each other at Whiteknight's - The closest I got to Morris in my Reading U. days (72-75) was Morris On and meeting someone I knew in kit at the Student's Union Building. Little did I realise that I'd take it up 10 years later.

Cheers Rana


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Andy
Date: 28 Sep 99 - 08:23 AM

Hi Rana,

At the risk of diverting the list - probably would be the answer - I danced with Whiteknights men as well as the girls side. As the other mails on the list have indicated Morris was always a good excuse for a few beers and a sing song. I shall decline to give the Morris definition of 'few'.

I'm also still here and about to begin dancing again ! Praps, I spend most of my time calling for Barn dinces etc. now.

A X


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Liya
Date: 28 Sep 99 - 01:57 PM

In regards to Stan Roger's comments about Morris Dancers: I wonder if Stan would be amused that The Idiot is in fact a very popular dance among several San Francisco Bay Area Morris teams. hee hee.

Liya, Squire, Mayfield Morris and Sword


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 28 Sep 99 - 03:15 PM

Actually, recent research definitively states that Morris dancing was originated by the Druids
You may know the initiation rite: "You put your right foot in...."
Allison-ducking-and-running-for-cover


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Roger the skiffler
Date: 28 Sep 99 - 03:23 PM

I had a friend who was a Morris dancer, went to see his "side" once. As far as I could tell the dances were to fill in the time waiting for the next round of pints! Never could work out which once was Morris. Mind you, he was a civil servant!


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Tom on Comfort
Date: 29 Sep 99 - 01:05 AM

Three cheers & a pint for a most enjoyable discussion on Morris. I've heard most of the different theories etc., but some cool new ones too.

I do like (as Andy pointed out) that there's so much pleasure taken in the dance and in the music and the cameraderie. That's quite magical, I think (without sounding too much like hokeypocitologist, I hope).

May your ankles & knees & feet last a hundred years! Goodness knows you got lots o' soul.

:) Tom


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: T in Oklahoma
Date: 29 Sep 99 - 07:57 PM

The most esthetically pleasing origin theory so far posted to this thread is poet's prarie-dog theory. Maybe it could account for longsword dancing, also.

A good source of what is known about the history of morris is Kieth Chandler, "Ribbons, Bells and Squeaking Fiddles"-The Social History of Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands, 1660-1900, Hisarlik Press, 1993.

An example of some of the interesting information found in this book: Chandler documents the displacement, between 1770 and 1870, of the pipe & tabor by the fiddle as the instrument of choice for morris accompaniment (Figure 9.1, a table of instrumentalists' birthdate-incidence by decade.)


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: gint
Date: 29 Sep 99 - 08:13 PM

I was attending a re-enactment training session in Tintagel Cornwall U.K., as I am a watcher not a do'er I went for a Cornish pasty

On returning to the practice pasy in hand I could not get into the pub grounds as it was blocked by Morris Men violently waving their sticks (quite well done)in fact.

When I finally got back to the practice I mentioned this to the re-enactors who with much glee dashed off to rib, cajoul (take the p**s )the morris men about the way they dress

They were in various pieces and styles of armour with swords and all the accoutrements.

they couldn't see the irony


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Len Wallace
Date: 30 Sep 99 - 02:44 AM

Yup, Valerie Rogers (Stan's mom) once related to me that Stan disliked Morris Dancers and that he really was surprised when one of their favorite tunes to dance to was his song "The Idiot". somehow he found it appropriate.

I could never figure out who Morris was myself and why men are given sticks, some of them dressing as women and then trying to beat themselves with them.

Okay, okay . . it's a joke!

Speaking of jokes... What do you call annoying dancing people who hang around folk music festivals?

Morris Dancers!

It's a JOKE!!! Sheeesh... I'll make sure my back's not left unprotected at my next festival.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: paddymac
Date: 30 Sep 99 - 04:39 AM

T in OK and Animaterra have craic-ed the code. I had the great pleasure of making one of the earliest exploratory excursions in a vintage Tardis and can state with authority (having been told by one of the concubinal persons affiliated with the venerable Hokey Pokey and the Druids) that the otherwise seemingly inexplicable gyrations which formed the foundation of the exercise system known today as Morris' Dancing (Morris is reputed to have operated a cut-rate flop-house in the early days of the east end) grew out of a domestic dispute in which a Might in Rusty Armor, being especially vexed by a teeming wave of minute hoppers which had taken up residence under his tin-plate, ill-advisedly communicated to his/her/its domestic partner her/its/his (apparently poorly founded) suspicion that its/his/her vexation was somehow related to micro-faunal population explosions in the partner's deliberate of re-cycled bedding materials.

The practice of swinging sticks or antlers or other longer-than-wide things of variable lengths was added in response to the domestic partners' initial repy to the accusatorily presented hypothesis regarding the origin of the initial population of minute hoppers whose sudden population growth in the warm and moist confines of the Might in Rusty Armor once encased in heavily oxidized plating gave rise to the initial vexation. Later analysts have sometimes suggested that (not entirely convincingly) that this phase of the ritual actually derives from attempts by the tecnologically-challenged Might in Rusty Armor to emulate the defensive force-field which he/she/it perceived encompassing the Tardis. Having initially perceived the original dancers to be non-threateningly disposed towards our observation party, we had taken special care to minimize any possible perceptions on their part of the vastly superior technology represented by our exploration as in-any-way threatening toward them, and thus do not accept the theory of emulative technology, at least as applied to our original visitation. However, our ROD (Report Of Discovery) was enthusiastically received by the COD (Council Of Directors) upon our return and subsequently afirmatively advanced to BOD (Bored Old Duds) and presented to GOD (Goofy Old Dud), who apparently determined to place the locale on the YID (Young Innocent Duds) itinery for field observations, thus increasing the frequency of Tardial incursions and the possibility of adverse encounters between the primitives and Tardial PFFs (Protective Force Fields). A search of the FEP (Field Event Prognosticator) indicates that a more detailed hysterical report was filed next year.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 30 Sep 99 - 07:58 AM

....paddymac, I am speechless with awe...


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Jim Banham
Date: 30 Sep 99 - 09:09 AM

I was there and agree with Selby.Didn't have chance to say goodbye.Thanks to Tony for towing our trailer off the field.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: T in Oklahoma
Date: 30 Sep 99 - 10:07 AM

paddymac, congratulations on the success of your mission. But I think you need to need to check the symbiotic feedback circuits in your TARDIS.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: paddymac
Date: 01 Oct 99 - 06:40 AM

Animaterra & T in OK: Aw' Gee whiz guys. I owe (or blame) it all to a pint too many. BTW, can you refresh my mind as to the meaning of TARDIS?


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Rana
Date: 01 Oct 99 - 08:12 AM

Time And Relative Dimensions In Space (TARDIS)


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Andy
Date: 01 Oct 99 - 10:08 AM

Whilst I hate to go off subject but Morris fanatics who don't know who ????

a XXX


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Rana
Date: 01 Oct 99 - 02:04 PM

Still off the actual thread, I suppose, but having evolved (devolved?) to Morris and the the good Doctor, does anyone ever remember seeing the episode of Dr. Who involving Morris dancing - The Devils - I believe. He was captured by a group of Morris dancers under the power of the evil "Fool" (who was under the power of the Master.

Rana


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: T in Oklahoma (a.k.a. Okiemockbird)
Date: 01 Oct 99 - 02:28 PM

I believe that was "The Daemons." The Master had become the vicar (Mr. Magister) of an English village("The soul is an out-of-date concept...looking at it existentially...") He terrorized the villagers and ordered them to celebrate May Day as usual. The Morris Dancers then went dancing into the town square and captured the Doctor. It was a stick morris they were dancing, if my memory is accurate. It's been a while, though, so I may not remember that detail quite right.

Okiemockbird (a.k.a. T in Oklahoma)


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Rana
Date: 01 Oct 99 - 03:02 PM

Yep,

It was the Daemons - 'twas a Cotswold stick dance. Rana


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: The Cisco Kid.
Date: 02 Oct 99 - 01:52 PM

Whats rthe difference between Morris Dancing and a mcDonalds Burger? You dont have to be shit-faced to enjoy a McDonalds Burger! Cisco.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Penny S.
Date: 03 Oct 99 - 02:07 PM

But Morris dancers don't leave a heap of rubbish outside my house.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 12:47 PM

I am refreshing this thread because the other one has a bad title, shall we discuss morris in this one?


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 04:25 PM

John, links to the other Mosrris threads would be great, for others to refer back to.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 10 Sep 01 - 05:27 PM

I am not much good at making links, the last few times I have tried I have messed it up!


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: GUEST,Les/ Manchester uk
Date: 11 Sep 01 - 04:17 PM

So, sorted then, just dancing about and having a drink and laugh. No real origin or purpose beyond. Fair enough carry on. But nor po-faced lectures about fertility and such like


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 12 Sep 01 - 12:37 PM

That's about it Les/ Manchester uk but it is based on a very great long and noble Tradition of, just dancing about and having a drink and laugh. You should try it, it's not half bad/don't knock it until you have tried it, as applicable. JohnB (also, from Manchester uk, many years ago)


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: GUEST,the rock
Date: 12 Sep 01 - 06:17 PM

i have made my point about morris dancers previously.. watching paint dry comes to mind!!!


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 12 Sep 01 - 06:46 PM

I have danced Morris since 1978. I still dance in June every year for a particular team who has a day of dance for itself and not really for an audience.

Too long an explanation why.

I like it and wish I was young enough to do it all again.

So I suppose I am saying "if you don't and never have danced it then hold your peace"

I promise never to post anything about Banjo's or Blues coz I don't know anything about them worth saying.

Nuff said?

Spot the Dog


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: IanC
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 07:09 AM

When this thread first turned up, I looked for Bill Tidy's "The Cloggies" on the web in vain. Now it's turned up, so I'll add my idea of an explanation of Morris Dancing here.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: John J
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 08:22 AM

As an ex-dancer I don't understand it at all, but it's a load of fun!

John


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: GUEST,with long hair smoking funny tobbacco
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 09:04 AM

Wow!


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: GUEST,Midchuck downstairs
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 02:27 PM

What's to understand?

People put on silly costumes and bells and jump up and down waving sticks.

Naturally, the onlookers point at them, and laugh and call them nasty names, and pelt them with rotten vegetables and dead cats.

They get mad, chase the onlookers, waving the sticks, until the police grab them and lock them up as dangerous lunatics.

Then everything's peaceful until they're let out and it starts all over again.

P.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Yorkshire Tony
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 07:46 PM

If you are academically inclined I suggest 'The History of Morris Dancing, 1438-1750' by John Forrest. I don't necessarily agree with his interpretation of the evidence but he has compiled a lot of interesting material.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 12:23 AM

I challenge Morris dancers to prove that what is called "Morris Dancing" today has any real heritage in the folk tradition. It had all but died out by the end of the 1900's (presumably because the folks back then decided they didn't want to look like a bunch of stupid rubes) and was resurrected in the 1930's by people who had no links (and C#'s descriptions). Hence the lack of real knowledge of the actual dances, traditions and symbolism behind Morris, aspecially among the "Sides" who are dancing?


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Yorkshire Tony
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 01:07 AM

How do you determine if anything has 'real heritage in the folk tradition'? This is clearly going to be a very subjective judgement. The evidence presented by Forrest strongly suggests that the Morris has almost died out and been revived on several occasions in the past six hundred years and has changed its form significantly over that period. Seen in that context, the most recent revival is very much part of the folk tradition, albeit aided by much more powerful information recording and distribution technology than was available in earlier episodes.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 02:46 AM

As far as I know there's been a more or less continuous tradition in Abingdon, Bampton, Chipping Camden, Headington Quarry ....


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 02:47 AM

And I think it was Headington who appeared in Dr Who (and Westminster in St Trinian's and the Great Train Robbery).


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 08:56 AM

The Bidford-on-Avon tradition died out after 1914, but in the early 50s the local schoolmaster got together a side of boys to revive the tradition, drawing on the memory of some old men from the pre-1914 side.

One of those boys was Tony Parsons, great grandson of the Bidford foreman in the 1880s and 90s. The boys side disbanded in the mid-60s, but Tony still dances, as does his son, Geoffrey, with Shakespeare Morris, who still keep alive the traditional Bidford dances.

That do you?

WassaiL! V


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 11:50 PM

G'day IanC,

The Bill Tidy cartoon that most sums up \The Cloggise would be the big, singlepanel, one I saw, years back, in Punch.

This in set a beer garden; all the Cloggies sitting round a huge oaken table ... packed with empty pint pots ... The leader leans back, wipes his mouth and says: "Well lads, what will we do with the rest of the Arts Council grant ...?"

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: JennieG
Date: 11 Apr 02 - 09:29 PM

I have heard it said (not by me, I hasten to add!) that God invented line dancing so that Morris dancers would have someone to laugh at.....
Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: pict
Date: 11 Apr 02 - 10:58 PM

When we saw them doing their fertility dance we knew it was time to charge over the border and fertilise their women for them.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 12 Apr 02 - 03:24 PM

It is like a bad joke, if you need it explaining it ceases to be funny.....Giok


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: GUEST,GrayD
Date: 12 Apr 02 - 08:48 PM

For goodness' sake. You all know what line dancing is. Just make it competitive, add beer, an English accent and something to hit your opponent with - Morris dancing.


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: Gillie
Date: 12 Apr 02 - 11:09 PM

Morris dancing - I just to love it, great fun and as already been said a chance to drink, make merry and have fun.

Whilst at college I chose to do my presentation on the subject!! I entitled it "Tradition or History?" There are many arguments ranging from fertility (human and nature) the sun, begging, pagan rights, Mooorish dancing and the thery that (1) man, meets women (2) begats a son/daughter (3), this can then be doulbled (6) and so on - giving the number of dancers in any given dance.

My favourite, has got to be one definition of where Border came from. Originating in the English/welsh borders, people found that they where short of money. Because they did not want their neighbours to know that they were begging, they doned their most ragged clothes and blackened their faces with soot from the fire.

Fasinating subject, which I throughly enjoyed researching.

Gillie


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Subject: RE: Help me undestand Morris Dancing
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 22 Feb 17 - 05:53 AM

BBC radio4 22 Feb 2017
Funnyish piece here by Shappi Khorsandi & Morris dancers & fertility dance.
about 35 minutes in / 9 minutes from the end.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08fdb2v 


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