Dancing" is a term applied in many parts of England to traditional seasonal
customs of various kinds. Since the early 1900s many customs have ceased
to exist, and revival teams have been formed whose objective is to preserve
some of these customs. Morris dancing is referred to in the Nottingham
City archives of 1530, but nothing is known of the dances performed.
consists mainly of dances from the Cotswold villages, the region around
Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon. which in times past were performed as
a spring ritual. The dances symbolise work, fighting, and fertility.
We wear white to signify our purity, bells to frighten away the evil
spirits, and use handkerchiefs to pass the magic of the dance out to
the audience. The audience is also expected to participate by donating
towards the collection, which brings the giver the luck of the Morris
for the coming year. Each village had its own dances, tunes and style
traditional music was provided by a three-hole pipe and tabor (drum)
or a fiddle. Nowadays the concertina, melodeon and accordion have all
found a place.
The general term
"Morris Dancing" applies to other English customs. These include
mummers plays (performed around Christmas) and plough
plays (performed on Plough Monday) which used to occur in many places
in the East Midlands. The plays were performed generally at mid-winter,
and symbolised the death of the old year, and the birth of the new.
The play we perform is based on ones performed at Long Benington and
Staunton. We also perform sword dances.
See also the Webfeet
: Dancing on the Web page, and the Vaughan
Williams Memorial Library .