Man? Myth? Monster? Mystery!
Foresters Morris as part of the Chatsworth House Spectacular.
The origins of Morris
dancing are probably thousands of years old. We cannot know for certain.
What is certain is that it is very old, very mystical and very magical.
The pre-Christian religions were dominated by two themes, firstly death
and rebirth, and secondly the Godess or female life-force. The latter
is still evident as Mother Earth or Mother Nature. The Morris Dance is
a ritual dance, a part of this old religion which has been passed down
over the centuries. It began as a fertility rite performed at the time
of seed sowing and was intended to ensure a good harvest. When a Morris
man dons his costume, he loses all identity with the ordinary mortals
around him, and becomes part of the elemental world. This is emphasised
by the presence of the Fool character and of an Animal who links the dancers
and the audience with this elemental world, to induce the natural and
supernatural forces to work in their favour. As Christianity spread, most
of the customs of the Old Religion were supplanted. Those that were too
deep-rooted survived, and were incorporated into the new religion. Morris
dancing is the most easily recognised of these customs. It was always
a countryman's ritual, and the drift of population from the land led to
many traditions dying out. After the great war and the loss of so many
of the men who actually danced, Morris was nearly lost for ever. Thankfully
a revival of interest resulted in new sides being formed to replace the
vanished ones, often in towns where no Morris traditions had been recorded.
The Foresters Morris Men are a part of this process, specialising in dances
from the Cotswold area, the Midlands, and the North-East of England. In
addition we perform local ritual plough-plays.
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Updated Friday 29-Dec-2017 10:17 , visits
Website content copyright © Eric Foxley who also runs the Dunkirk Arts Centre.