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Kinnerton Morris Men from Chester. Cotswold Morris traditional dance. Chester Based Traditional Dance side  Morris Dancing Chester

The Morris Today

Today's dancers perform rhythmic stepping to music, usually wearing bell pads and brandishing sticks or flourishing handkerchiefs. Once upon a time this was all about such things as warding off the devil, but historical references to paganism and making the crops grow have somewhat less of a relevance today. What matters more is putting on a good show and having fun.

There are many forms of Morris dancing, with roots in different parts of the country, but now danced all over the UK (and indeed the World) by revivalist sides of all ages and genders bringing a new vibrancy to these traditions.

 

A Hundred Years Hence - Phil Hambling [Morris Dancers] - YouTube

Cotswold Morris - What most people think of when they hear the term Morris dancing. Originally from the Cotswolds, collected (and arguably saved) through the dedication of Cecil Sharp, Maud Karpeles and Mary Neal.

This is where Kinnerton draw the inspiration for their dances.

Border Morris - A more vigorous form of the Morris, originally from the borders of England and Wales. Probably the most obviously pagan to watch!

North West Processional Morris - Stemming from the mills of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire - North West Morris features a strong rhythmic, almost military, band (you can hear the drum well before you see the dancers!) which accompanies these clog-stepping processional dances. Danced by sets of 8 - 12 dancers.

Clog Stepping - For single or duo dancers, originating from the North West and other industrial parts of the UK, the sounds of the clogs can be said to emulate the sounds of the shuttles in the old mills. This would have been the forerunner of tap dancing in music halls.

Garland - Again from the North West, probably influenced by the mills and always a processional dance form, Garland dancing (in clogs or soft dancing shoes) is a much more graceful and feminine dance style. Traditionally performed by the ladies of the mill towns.

Rapper Sword - A fast moving, compact and exciting dance tradition which emerged from the pit villages of the North East. Rapper is performed by

five dancers with swords, entangling themselves in various apparently impossible ways.

Longsword - Arguably a little less energetic, but none-the-less beguiling, Longsword dances hail from Yorkshire and were traditionally performed around Christmas time to encourage a fruitful harvest.

Molly - From the fens of East Anglia, this colourful dance tradition was said to be done by out of work plough boys, most likely to raise money whilst they had no work, and is closely associated with Plough Monday.

Appalachian Clog - Not totally English, but brilliant to watch!

Fools and Beasts - An important part of many Morris sides, the addition of a Fool (any good Fool is anything but!) or beast add to the display and interaction with the audience, helping to show off the skills of the dancers and also their own dancing prowess.

Mumming and Guising - Traditional folk plays performed at certain important times of the year such as Easter (pace egging), Christmas (mumming) etc. Usually stories of death and rebirth and very often used as an excuse to collect monies whilst in disguise.

Maypole Dancing - Today generally performed by school children, this was an important fertility dance to give luck to the crops in spring. Still very much a big part of May Queen and May day carnival celebrations.

Stave Dancing - A dance style specific to the South West of England. Similar to Cotswold Morris or English country dance but designed to be performed whilst carrying large staves aloft.

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