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What exactly is Morris dancing?

olddude 24 Apr 15 - 12:25 PM
Hesk 24 Apr 15 - 01:01 PM
Les in Chorlton 24 Apr 15 - 02:03 PM
GUEST 24 Apr 15 - 02:13 PM
olddude 24 Apr 15 - 02:17 PM
Bonzo3legs 24 Apr 15 - 02:32 PM
MGM·Lion 24 Apr 15 - 02:41 PM
Stanron 24 Apr 15 - 03:24 PM
MGM·Lion 24 Apr 15 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 24 Apr 15 - 04:33 PM
Tattie Bogle 24 Apr 15 - 06:40 PM
Leadfingers 24 Apr 15 - 07:00 PM
olddude 24 Apr 15 - 10:07 PM
MGM·Lion 24 Apr 15 - 10:54 PM
olddude 24 Apr 15 - 11:14 PM
Mr Red 25 Apr 15 - 02:51 AM
Lester 25 Apr 15 - 03:30 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Apr 15 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,Les B 25 Apr 15 - 05:04 AM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 25 Apr 15 - 05:26 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Apr 15 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 25 Apr 15 - 05:57 AM
Megan L 25 Apr 15 - 06:16 AM
Lester 25 Apr 15 - 02:45 PM
GUEST 26 Apr 15 - 05:11 AM
Les in Chorlton 26 Apr 15 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,# 26 Apr 15 - 01:34 PM
Lester 26 Apr 15 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 26 Apr 15 - 02:12 PM
Mr Red 26 Apr 15 - 04:45 PM
Lester 26 Apr 15 - 04:50 PM
Penny S. 26 Apr 15 - 05:43 PM
Hesk 26 Apr 15 - 06:45 PM
ChrisJBrady 26 Apr 15 - 07:17 PM
BobL 27 Apr 15 - 03:13 AM
GUEST,M 27 Apr 15 - 03:57 AM
Hesk 27 Apr 15 - 04:48 AM
Bonzo3legs 27 Apr 15 - 10:40 AM
Will Fly 27 Apr 15 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 27 Apr 15 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,# 27 Apr 15 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Rattler 27 Apr 15 - 06:58 PM
Les in Chorlton 28 Apr 15 - 02:29 AM
Thompson 28 Apr 15 - 02:46 AM
Les in Chorlton 28 Apr 15 - 02:56 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Apr 15 - 04:57 AM
Penny S. 28 Apr 15 - 06:13 AM
Hesk 28 Apr 15 - 06:27 AM
Les in Chorlton 28 Apr 15 - 07:49 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Apr 15 - 06:38 PM
Tattie Bogle 28 Apr 15 - 07:54 PM
Penny S. 02 May 15 - 03:12 PM
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Subject: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: olddude
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 12:25 PM

When did it start is it British only, I never heard of it before mudcat


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Hesk
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 01:01 PM

Just to kick off, it was practiced in England in the sixteenth century and before. It was considered a vulgar dance of village tradition. It almost disappeared in the mid nineteenth century, until revived by Cecil Sharp and his friends. He published a number of books on the subject, and most of the Morris dances of today stem from his practice and researches. I hope that others may now elaborate on the above.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 02:03 PM

It's so that men, mostly, can dance with other men in public without being misunderstood.

And it can be great fun


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 02:13 PM

Women dance morris too. It's display dancing, not social, generally done in groups of 6 to 12, can be very aggressive in actions and gestures, and can be fiercely exciting when well danced. And this is from someone who generally dislikes dance. Some people take it too seriously, others not seriously enough. These days, dancers are generally getting elderly. Till the next lot discovers it, as it tends to come in waves about 30 years long.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: olddude
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 02:17 PM

Way cool thank you


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 02:32 PM

Best morris dancing today done by the likes of Morris Offspring.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 02:41 PM

Google "Morris Dancing on You Tube" and you will find many examples. You will note that costumes and instruments vary, but have much in common. The men dance sometimes with sticks they knock rhythmically together, sometimes with a pair of handkerchifs which they wave as they dance. The music [generally fiddle, concertina, or accordion] is enhanced by the rhythms provided by the bells the dancers often wear at the knee. One dancer will often be dressed as a woman, known as the Betty; another will wear a hobby-horse costume. There are many such conventions and characteristics. Have a look.

Never been a dancer myself, BTW; but have always loved to watch it, and of course have had many friends who were morrismen.

There is a 17C anonymous painting of The Thames At Richmond in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge which shows among those present a group of morrismen [hobbyhorse and all]. Here is a link to it --


http://webapps.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/explorer/index.php?oid=1388

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Stanron
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 03:24 PM

Clicky


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 04:26 PM

Thank you: I've never learned to make those blue links!


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 04:33 PM

It should also be pointed out that there are many different types of Morris. The popular view is of Cotswold Morris with it's white kit, hankies and flat shoes. There is also the North West clog tradition. Almost military precision and many progressive dances. Border Morris is quite wild and exciting to watch. Molly dancing is primarily east Midlands and east Anglia. Rapper is mainly North East and, to my mind, a real treat. Longsword seems to stem from Yorkshire and is symbolised by the longsword star that is the symbol of Morris in many places. There are many other traditions that do not fit in anywhere. Bacup 'nutters'; Abbots Bromley horn dance; Abram Circle (that I used to dance) and many more! There was a distinctly male only ethos amongst some but, to my mind, that is thankfully gone and some of the best teams I have seen have been mixed or ladies.

You have opened up a whole world of research, olddude, and I hope you enjoy your journey. Only believe a fraction of what you hear, half of what you see and some of what friends tell you :-) Enjoy the spectacle, music and stories and it will all be worthwhile.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 06:40 PM

And just to confuse you even more (you might not be able to see the video outside of the UK):
Morris Dancing in Scotland


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 07:00 PM

'Rapper' is a Sword dance using flexible metal swords which are held by five men in a 'circle' and only released to display 'The Lock' - see the EFDSS emblem - and using very Up Tempo Jigs .
Longsword uses long wooden slats of wood and is somewhat more sedate
but otherwise similar to Rapper
The Morris Ring is the ruling body of the dance and for many years maintained it was ONLY for male dancers , though in recent years there are ladies sides and even MIXED sides . Personally , my only objection is for ladies dancing Cotswold as the Female form is NOT designed to perform a Galley very well .


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: olddude
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 10:07 PM

Really cool and I like the history. I bet it's fun for the dancers also


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 10:54 PM

Here is a link to Wikipedia's full and informative article on the topic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_dance


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: olddude
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 11:14 PM

Thanks Mike


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Mr Red
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 02:51 AM

MGM·Lion -
If you want to create links try this page
Mr Red's Blickie generator (I have made that one open in a new tab so you could have both pages available more easily).
it was written for those trying to do fancy things on the Mudcat.
copy/write the link in one box, the visible text (optional) in the other, click the button and copy the red text and paste here.

Best of luck.

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


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Lester
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 03:30 AM

Leadfingers - your post above wrong in a few places:
The EFDSS badge is a longsword knot, not a rapper knot.
Longsword dances are danced with both metal or wooden swords
The Morris Ring is not 'the ruling body of morris dancing' there is no such thing as a ruling body as there are no rules.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 04:46 AM

The biggest influence on Blackface Morris, of which their is little evidence before the 1970's, was almost certainly 19C Blackface Minstrelsy via Music Halls and US popular entertainment.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 05:04 AM

Re Wooden swords, wood is for wimps :-)


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 05:26 AM

Spot on Lester and if you look at the EFDSS symbol you will see it comprises of 6 swords, not 5 as in a Rapper team. Further confusion - The Rapper sword is not really a sword either! With a handle at each end it is far more like a flexible scraping tool. But Rapper sword scans much better :-)

While I am sure that what Les says about black face is correct you must bear in mind that while minstrelsy had the effect of being a big influence in the popularity it is by no means the whole picture. There are many takes on it from the discredited Blackamoor theory to 'guising' or disguising that happened prior to the Minstrels and across the globe in many forms. It is this aspect of uncertainty that make Morris such an interesting reseach subject. There are probably as many tales as there are Morris dancers ;-)

A difficult to read but interesting work on Morris is Kemps nine daies wonder telling of Will Kemps Morris dance from London to Norwich. There are a few original errors in it but I can't remember what now - Basically the 1600 equivalent of cut and paste mistakes!


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 05:33 AM

Thanks Dave that's very intrestin! It seems that most commentators on the origins of Morris are happy to cherry pick bits and pieces and lob in some self generated over view.

I guess Morris is tough enough to survive the b*llshit - much of it self generated - and we can go on enjoying it for a long time.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 05:57 AM

I'm pretty sure it is, Les. I think that, as in most such things, anyone that says 'This is the absolute truth' is kidding themselves. I have always noticed that, as in your comment above, you chose you words carefully and avoid that particular pitfall very well. I try do the same but do occasionally slip off the edge :-) Usually through lack of care rather than lack of knowledge!


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Megan L
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 06:16 AM

Dude it is English Haka


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Lester
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 02:45 PM

"Dude it is English Haka" Me and mine proving it to be true

Aldbury Morris Men Haka


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 05:11 AM

There is a fairly good description on the the Morris Ring site .
Historical evidence suggests that Morris was first mentioned in about the 16th Century or perhaps a little before in court circles where it seems to have been a popular dance where individuals or small groups danced, showing off their skills to a "maiden". As a dance introduced into the court, it is first mentioned around London and the more urban areas where the court travelled. Gradually references appear in successively more rural areas as and it fell out of favour with the "nobility". (See "Stations of the Sun; Hutton)


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 12:41 PM

Buy this book (See "Stations of the Sun; Hutton) - it is the best collection of historically sound writing about old traditions.


Here

It's origins are not pagan or pre-christian and nothing to do with fertility. The Morris escaped from the courts of the rich and was taken up and kept alive mostly by agricultural working people for hundreds of years! Amazin!!


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,#
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 01:34 PM

"Did you hear about the bus load of Morris Dancers that was hijacked by terrorists?

The terrorists threatened to release one every hour until all their demands were met."


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Lester
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 02:09 PM

What's the difference between morris dancers and terrorists?

Terrorists have their sympathisers


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 02:12 PM

Coach load of blind people on their way back from a day at the seaside. Bus pulls into a pub car park and they all get out for light refreshments when the barman is amazed at their guide taking out a football with a bell in it so some of the younger ones can have a kickabout on the park next door. 10 minutes later a bloke rushes in crying "Call the police, quick! There is a load of thugs on the park kicking a Morris dancer to death."


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Mr Red
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 04:45 PM

of which their is little evidence before the 1970's,
I have to bow to a superior source, namely a guy who considered doing a PhD on Folk, and his erudition at that stage was "Morresque going on Morris". He showed the "timeline and popularity" culled from sources.
Expanding as it went down market. Like any fashion. He is, rather, himself a lapsed Morriman. Black-Faced was most definitely mentioned from the early Morresque.

As a footnote -Rob Scrase told me, in 1990 that he had a book documenting the fact that women were dancing Morris before 1830ish. How many and how widespread I never found out. He offered the said book to the Morris Ring and no one was interested. The rule about Women dancing Morris in Ring Sides was a demonstrable fact then. At the same era Dave Jones could not get Women's Morris sides to perform at Bromyard Festival despite his daughters being very accomplished dancers and musicians. (at the same time!). They did eventually play for his "Na Fer Joes" amid severe grumblings of some Ring Sides (names withheld). And traditionally "Na Fer Joes" would have been proud not to be called Morris. cf Molly, or Abbots Bromley. Who knows or cares what the Ringers euphemistcally called the "statu quo", it was fact. Rules are what people live by, not what is written down. Written down can condemn people. If it is not written down it can be denied. As a rule!

And FWIW ritual dancing in some form predates Morris, Morresque etc. Whatever became Morris would draw on the lineage and evolve. The Abbots Bromley horns are reputed to carbon date to 1065 (+/- 50 yrs) and one is Reindeer, an extinct species in England certainly, and maybe Scotland, at the time.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Lester
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 04:50 PM

Mr Red "The rule about Women dancing Morris in Ring Sides was a demonstrable fact then. " that is still the situation. The ring now accept women musicians but no ring side can have woman dancers.

Other morris organisations are available.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Penny S.
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 05:43 PM

I searched YouTube, and got tangented towards Romania, because someone suggested Morris derived from Dacian soldiers in Britain under the Romans. Their dancers were wearing baldrics and bells, and carrying sticks but were otherwise unlike Morris - apart from being only males (who had to keep away from their wives and other women befoe performances). I wasn't convinced.
Did anyone see, on Alistair Cook's America, a side of native American dancers in one of the southern states influenced by Spain doing something very morrisy (with bells)- explained as deriving from whatever Moorish influence there had been on Morris?
Our local Punjabis had a similar dance, with sticks and bells, two rows, heys and so on. Not sure if that came from any ancient common ancestor, or simply that there's a limited number of things people can do with dance.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Hesk
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 06:45 PM

This is a quote from "The Morris Book", part 1, second edition, 1912, by Cecil Sharp:-

"The Morris is, traditionally, a man's dance. Since, however, it was revived a few years ago, it has been freely performed by women and children.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: ChrisJBrady
Date: 26 Apr 15 - 07:17 PM

Ballerina Misty Copeland Gets Quizzed On Morris Dancing
Saturday, 11 April, 2015 18:21

"Copeland (who?) answers three questions about a form of English folk dancing which may have originated one night in the Middle Ages when some guys got really drunk. Originally broadcast April 25, 2014."

http://www.npr.org/2015/04/11/398798392/ballerina-misty-copeland-gets-quizzed-on-morris-dancing

Can be downloaded from here (3.9MB):

http://pd.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/waitwait/2015/04/20150411_waitwait_02.mp3?dl=1

A couple of moronic pseudo-comedians (who?) taking the usual pi$$ out of the morris. Requires a North American sense of humour to appreciate. The comedians(?) think that they are funny - the audience is the ubiquitous 'laugh at everything on cue' idiots. You've probably seen them on the Ellen Show.

CJB


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: BobL
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 03:13 AM

Re. quote from "The Morris Book": Sharp's information came from surviving Morris dancers and ex-dancers for whom it was indeed a men-only tradition. Other sources, unearthed later, may tell it differently.

Incidentally the Morris Ring's all-male ethos was a reaction to the way in which the dance had become corrupted by Edwardian lady P.E. teachers and their charges.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,M
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 03:57 AM

I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist...

"What exactly is Morris dancing?"
"I don't know, but he seems to think it's the waltz."

(Further discussions of flies doing breast-stroke in the soup coming later).


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Hesk
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 04:48 AM

On reflection this could be one of those questions such as "What is Folk?". Could it be broadened to "What is Dancing?".
Personally, I haven't a clue!
There may, however, be an official definition sunk in the mists of time, or the 1950's.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 10:40 AM

It is something that the Morris Ring were very arrogant about in the 1980s when I played electric guitar for a Morris Side!


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 10:56 AM

Hey Dan - now you know what Morris dancing is all about, are you going to take it up?

I can't dance with you, I'm afraid - the knee joints won't have it - but I can stand on the sidelines and urge you along with my emergency kit: a bottle of malt, two glasses, and a nice selection of Hamilton RR grades... :-)


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 11:01 AM

Anyone seen Morris: A Life with Bells On?

One of the best films I have come across. The character Derek Jacobi plays is a wonderful, if rather OTT, representation of the old attitudes of the Morris Ring. Fortunately it has now come into the 21st century. I think :-)


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,#
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 02:48 PM

"What exactly is Morris dancing?"

The Boogaloo.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: GUEST,Rattler
Date: 27 Apr 15 - 06:58 PM

Many styles, many regions of England. Our "Plough Morris" tradition in the East Midlands is best expressed with mud on the boots and flat caps as you'll see on May Morning at sunrise on Castle Hill, Laxton, Notts.!

Morris has always been associated with the passing of the seasons, the agricultural calendar, the high-days and holydays of the rural population.

It's paying respect to the land, the forces of nature, the natural cycles. Once it may have been believed literally: Now, the need to respect the natural cycles and work with, rather than against nature has been recognised by those of us that seek solutions through science!

When we dance up the sun on Mayday, traditional belief and 21st century principles combine in an ideal that we CAN follow!

Cheers, Rattler


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 02:29 AM

Mr/Ms Rattler, isn't this the myth endlessly regenerated since Sharp? He came across Headington Quarry on New Year's Day - dancing not to welcome seasons but to get some money because they were poor?


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Thompson
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 02:46 AM

Very interesting about the Morresque - never came across them before, lovely dance.

Here's morris dancing (terrible video - skip to the middle - but very typical of village dancing.

Here's a morreska sword dance, apparently by professionals - you can see the similarity.

And here's Wren Boys in Ireland - again, similar.

It seems likely to me (my own mad theory, mind) that play-fighting dances, and dances that 'conceal' the dancers' faces (though in local places of course everyone knows who they are), are an old, old tradition with their forgotten rules in religious ritual. The fact that it's boys rather than girls who dance in these public displays may be part of the antifeminist religious mania that swept Europe from the 16th to the 19th centuries, or may reflect an older tradition of totemic dances.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 02:56 AM

You must be right Mr/Ms Thompson even though almost no Morris dancers concealed their faces in Sharp's time, before or since - until about 1970 something.

I suggest you research the famous 'Cherry Pickers Dance' and it's associated traditions in which random dances and traditions from across this or any other country are chosen according to availability, access via Google or just chance and some over arching ideas of seasonal worship is dragged together to make what is clearly ................... oh, I can't be bothered.

Respect The Morris, respect the dancers, respect it's History but please don't invent it.

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 04:57 AM

Our local Punjabis had a similar dance, with sticks and bells, two rows, heys and so on. Not sure if that came from any ancient common ancestor, or simply that there's a limited number of things people can do with dance.

I am a scholar of Punjabi dance, so if you care to elaborate I might be able to fill in details.

As with other things, it doesn't help to carelessly lump all types of dance from any time and place together. Punjabi writers have pulled a similar trick when casually opining about dances—a desire to vaguely connect present to distant past—and as one result there is practically no historiography of dances in the Punjab region. Several of the Punjabi dances known today can be dated, by name at least, to the mid-18th century. However, most have been re-invented (or at least folklorized almost beyond recognition) in the last 60 years.

I'd be interested to know what is meant by "our local Punjabis." Who is "us"? Does each locale have its local Punjabis? In what context are you seeing it? And when you say they "had" a dance, does this mean it is in the past and gone?

My interest is piqued because Punjabi stick-dances are not typically seen often outside certain parts of Pakistan.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Penny S.
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 06:13 AM

This was at a deliberately multi-cultural event in a hall in Dartford, in which the multi bit was only the Sikhs and the British/Irish. (There are other ethnicities in the area than those, but they didn't seem to be involved.) The Sikhs get involved with much that is going on, so when I said "our" I meant to include them in "us" as in "the local people" rather than being possessive. It happened some time ago, so I cannot be specific about whether the dance is still being performed or not. The younger people have been doing Bhangra when they perform in assembly at school.

The ages of the group that performed was about the same as the ages performing Morris, though perhaps with fewer at the upper age range. They were wearing brightly coloured silks, and, as I said, I noticed that the form of the dance was similar to Morris. But it was some time ago, and I can't be more specific than that.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Hesk
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 06:27 AM

Hello Les,

i am a little puzzled by your "take" on this subject. You seem a little irritated by opinions or theories unless backed up in some way by what you perceive as fact. I would argue however, that this is just a place to have a natter, and a few theories, here and there, don't really matter.
Nevertheless to challenge your statement about black faced dancers originating from the 1970's, here is another quote from the "Morris Book" second edition, published in 1912:-

"The custom observed by many Morris men of blackening their faces, a practice which still obtains in Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and other parts of England, and has been traced in France, the Netherlands and Germany."

This was one of the points to support his argument that the Morris dance was of Moorish origin.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 07:49 AM

Thanks Hesk that's really interesting!

"You seem a little irritated by opinions or theories unless backed up in some way by what you perceive as fact"

Well, I would ask for evidence - wouldn't you?

" and a few theories, here and there, don't really matter" - Well, I guess that's true - the 'theories that people come up with here' with or with out fag packets or 'lemonade' are what? I dunno - I guess private entertainment and none of my business.

I was aware of the blackfaces of the 20C Border Morris but doesn't it look very much that it's roots are in Music Hall and Blackface Minstrelsy?

Sorry I didn't know of the link to France, the Netherlands and Germany. Although courtly entertainment certainly traveled the world.

"This was one of the points to support his argument that the Morris dance was of Moorish origin" - How's that then?

I have danced with 2 sides and practiced with another. I am fascinated that this old custom has survived for so long - thanks to it's adoption by mostly agricultural working people for hundreds of years.

I cannot begin to count the number of times I have listen to or read what pretends to be a history or origins of The Morris from people who seem to have no respect what so ever for evidence, the nature of a hypothesis or history itself.

That's all really


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 06:38 PM

Thanks, Penny S! (Sorry I did not address you more directly earlier - I'd misplaced your name.)

That helps a bit—I am in California, USA, so I had no clear idea of your context :-)

It's still interesting to know about. Often, nowadays, Gujaratis represent themselves through stick dances. Punjabis *typically* do not, despite the fact that there *are* Punjabi dances with sticks. A generic name for these dances is "Dandaas" (whereas Gujaratis call it "Dandiya.") The historical origin of the Punjabi dances with sticks is the northwestern side of the current Pakistani Punjab province. None of them, as far as I know, are "native" to the part of the Punjab region now contained in India. (I mention that only by way of interesting trivia.) They have been staged, but are done much less, hence my curiosity.

Thanks for sharing that.


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 28 Apr 15 - 07:54 PM

Yes, DtG, saw "Morris: A Life with Bells On" here in Edinburgh in one of those art-house cinemas at about 10am on a Sunday morning. It was then the only Scottish showing. Very good and entertaining film. Some enthusiast for regenerating a Lothian Morris team took names and email addresses of anyone interested in dancing or playing, on the way out of the cinema. None of us ever heard any more!


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Subject: RE: What exactly is Morris dancing?
From: Penny S.
Date: 02 May 15 - 03:12 PM

Thanks to this thread, I have now acquired and watched "Morris, a Life with Bells On". Not only did I enjoy it tremendously, but so did a friend, whom I had thought (from comments made in Rochester) had less than no interest in Morris. It's a hoot. (Even missing some of the in-jokes, as I am sure we did.)

Did they ever make the sequel promised in the credits?


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