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Morris Dancing at Vandalia

Kent Davis 29 May 04 - 09:11 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 May 04 - 09:00 AM
Kent Davis 27 Jun 09 - 03:35 PM
Janie 27 Jun 09 - 04:44 PM
Tug the Cox 27 Jun 09 - 06:25 PM
Janie 27 Jun 09 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,Russ 27 Jun 09 - 10:10 PM
GUEST,Russ 28 Jun 09 - 11:06 AM
Kent Davis 28 Jun 09 - 03:47 PM
Kent Davis 28 Jun 09 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Russ 28 Jun 09 - 09:21 PM
Rapparee 28 Jun 09 - 10:27 PM
Kent Davis 28 Jun 09 - 11:28 PM
GUEST,Russ 29 Jun 09 - 09:51 AM
Kent Davis 29 Jun 09 - 09:56 PM
Kent Davis 22 Aug 10 - 04:56 PM
Kent Davis 28 May 11 - 10:30 PM
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Subject: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Kent Davis
Date: 29 May 04 - 09:11 PM

Just got back from the Vandalia Gathering, Charleston, West Virginia. Loved all the folk and old-time music and dancing. There were two groups of Morris Dancers there, the Mountain Laurel 4-H Dancers and Morris Monroe. It was wonderful to see these boys (and a few girls) perform. If you're not too far away, drive down to see them tomorrow, in the West Virginia Cultural Center, around 2:30 p.m. If one of you historians has a moment, could you comment on Morris Dancing in West Virginia, in Appalachia, or in the U.S.? I've read about Morris Dancing in England, but am not sure how it crossed the ocean. As modern revival, I expect.
Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 May 04 - 09:00 AM

Glad you had a good time!


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Kent Davis
Date: 27 Jun 09 - 03:35 PM

An article in this July's WONDERFUL WEST VIRGINIA magazine features Shepherdstown's "Hicks with Sticks", perhaps the perfect name for West Virginia Morris dancers, but doesn't say how the practice got from England to West Virginia.

Anybody know?

Here's the magazine article http://www.wonderfulwv.com/sub.cfm?month=may09&fea=1
and here's a video of the Hicks with Sticks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9vMZZvBC4M

Kent


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Janie
Date: 27 Jun 09 - 04:44 PM

Hmmm?   Whodathunkit!


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 27 Jun 09 - 06:25 PM

Certainly a recent transmission of a revival, not the traditional Morris, to Usa. people who had studied in England in the 50's and 60's got the bug, some English Expats stoked the flames, and look what happened. When I first started in 1971 there was Pinewoods, and maybe a couple of others, whose members came, individually to Ring meetings in England, I met the founder of Pinewoods at the bromley Ring meetind in 1972, and very knowleadgable he was. Just imagine if the yanks got hold of Cricket or Rugby!


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Janie
Date: 27 Jun 09 - 06:35 PM

Where is Pinewoods?


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 27 Jun 09 - 10:10 PM

Kent,
I will continue to go to Vandalia as long as I am able.

Tug the Cox,

Morris Dancing in the states goes quite a bit further back than the 50s and 60s but it is still a 20th century phenomenon.

See See David E. Whisnant's "All That is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region."


Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 28 Jun 09 - 11:06 AM

I should also mention that the early attempts to transplant Morris Dancing to the US were part of a larger agenda.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Kent Davis
Date: 28 Jun 09 - 03:47 PM

Guest, Russ,

Could you tell us more? I've found this information about Morris in Chicago in 1910: http://www.americanmorrisnews.org/pastissues/dec2005v25n4/current_issue/andrewbullenv25n4morrisinchicago.html but I haven't found anything about how it got to West Virginia.

According to the Kentucky Artisan Center, Morris Dancing was being taught in Appalachia over 70 years ago: "A longstanding tradition in Berea, Morris dance is an ancient English style of dancing and has been taught at Berea's Christmas Country Dance School since 1938". (I couldn't get the link to work, but it is http://kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov/docs/morris_08_19_06.doc)

The earliest information I have found about Morris Dancing in West Virginia is 1994 http://www.bu.edu/dbin/dance/indexresults.php

Kent


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Kent Davis
Date: 28 Jun 09 - 03:50 PM

I see that the last link didn't quite work. To get to the 1994 video recording, click on the last link in the preceding post and enter "shepherdstown" in the search box.

Kent


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 28 Jun 09 - 09:21 PM

Kent,

The full story is found in David E. Whisnant's "All That is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region."

I mention this work regularly my infrequent posts to this forum and the references are usually ignored.

I personally consider the work to be required reading for anybody interested in the reality of traditional culture and its marketing in the US as opposed to the mythology of traditional culture.

To grossly oversimplify, the importation, NOT revivial, of morris dancing into the US was part of wide ranging attempts to emphasize the true and pure white anglo-saxon roots of traditional American culture as opposed to the influences of other lesser and inferior cultures.e.g., Africa.

Your links are good for learning when, but not about why.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Rapparee
Date: 28 Jun 09 - 10:27 PM

Interesting. I never heard of it until I was in college, and there are lots of people who never heard of Morris Dancing at all.


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Kent Davis
Date: 28 Jun 09 - 11:28 PM

Guest, Russ,

Thanks for your reply.

I wasn't ignoring your reference to Whisnat's book. I just hesitate to shell out $25 without learning a bit more about him and his book.

I didn't think the links I posted were good for learning the "why". I don't know the "why" myself. I suspect that different people imported Morris Dancing to the States at various times and for various reasons. What motivated Cecil Sharp may not have motivated John Powell* and what motivated John Powell may not have motivated the teachers at the Pine Mountain Settlement School or Berea College or whoever started Shepherdstown's Hicks with Sticks. But maybe I'm wrong. In any case, I think it would be easier to determine the "why" if we knew the "when" and, at least for West Virginia, we don't seen to know even that.

Are you saying that ALL the introductions of Morris Dancing were motivated by racism?

*John Powell, one of the founders of the White Top Folk Festival, which introduce Morris Dancing in 1935, was apparently a eugenics buff and "racial purity " enthusiast (i.e., a racist) http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=41:7854~T1

Kent


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:51 AM

Kent,

I didn't intend to include you in my whining about being ignored.

All that I know about the history of Morris Dancing in the US is what I read in Whisnant's book. I have done no independent research.

Having grown up in WV, my guess is that Morris Dancing appeared in WV significantly later than the period Whisnant covers and that the motivation would have been quite different from that at Whitetop.

I left the state in 74 but attended festivals in the late 60s and early 70s. Glenville, Pipestem, Morris Brothers, Cedar Lakes, etc.

I don't remember any Morris Dancing. I remember that Jane and Frank George were seriously into Scottish culture. Frank regularly appeared with bagpipe and kilt and Jane taught Scottish dancing. I don't know what their motivation was. Frank might be the best person to talk to about the first appearance of Morris Dancing in WV. Another person who's been around forever is John Morris.

An interest in Morris Dancing might have been one of the byproducts of "The Great Hippie Migration". There's a nice article about that in the latest issue of Goldenseal.

Russ (Permanent GUEST and WV expat)


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Kent Davis
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:56 PM

Thanks, Russ. I'll ask arund at festivals.

Even though we still don't know how Morris Dancing ended up at Vandalia or in the Mountain State, we have some potentially useful information for the folk detectives:

1. Morris Dancing introduced to the U.S. by 1910 (Chicago),
2. introduced to Virginia (White Top) by 1935
3. introduced to Kentucky (Berea) by 1938
4. in Shepherdstown, WV, by 1990 http://www.apriori.net/paz/shep.html

Kent


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Aug 10 - 04:56 PM

In GOLDENSEAL magazine, January-March, 1980, there is an announcement that the Monroe County 4-H Dance team would be performing "Morris, English, Irish, Scottish, and Appalachian traditional dances, in a program to commemorate the British Isles heritage of many of Monroe County's people" at Union High School, Union, WV, on Homecoming Night (April 5, 1980). Frank George (mentioned by Guest Russ in his June, 2009, post above, was also going to be performing there at night.

Can anyone add any additional information on the history of Morris Dancing in West Virginia?

Kent


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Subject: RE: Morris Dancing at Vandalia
From: Kent Davis
Date: 28 May 11 - 10:30 PM

How did Morris Dancing get to West Virginia? Guest,Russ said two years ago that Frank and Jane George would know. Good call!

According to Dr. Keith Garbutt http://www.as.wvu.edu/~kgarbutt/MorrisandMummers/ , Morris Dancing has been done in West Virginia continuously since at least 1987, when he began teaching it. He first taught it in Spencer, WV.

However, he said that Frank and Jane George (and others) had been doing it even earlier. Apparently they introduced it around 1976, having learned it in Berea, KY.

This is what I could glean from a brief talk with Dr. Garbutt, who was most polite and helpful. I would have loved to have talked with him more, but he was quite busy. If there are any errors in the above, they are mine, not Dr. Garbutt's.

Dr. Garbutt, for those of you have been to Vandalia, is the gentleman with the English accent who tells the audience about the dances.

Kent


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