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Encyclopedia > Morris dance
Cotswold morris with handkerchiefs

A morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied with music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, tobacco pipes, and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. Cotswold Morris dance with handkerchiefs, Oxford, 2004-05-01. ... Cotswold Morris dance with handkerchiefs, Oxford, 2004-05-01. ... Folk dancers in Prague Folk dance is a term used to describe a large number of dances, mostly of European origin, that tend to share the following attributes: They were originally danced in about the 19th century or earlier (or are, in any case, not currently copyrighted); Their performance is...

There are claimed to be English records mentioning the morris dance dating back to 1448, but these are open to dispute. There is no mention of "morris" dancing earlier than the late 15th century, although early records such as Bishops' "Visitation Articles" mention sword dancing, guising and other dancing activities as well as mumming plays. Furthermore, the earliest records invariably mention "Morys" in a court setting, and both men and women are mentioned as dancing, and a little later in the Lord Mayors' Processions in London. It is only later that it begins to be mentioned as something performed in the parishes. There is certainly no evidence whatsoever that it is in anyway a pre-Christian ritual, as is often claimed.

While there is still some dispute the origin of the term "Morris", the most widely accepted theory is that the term was "moorish dance," "morisques" (in France), "moriskentanz" (in Germany), "moreška" (in Croatia), and "moresco" (in Italy and Spain), which eventually became "morris dance". Dances with similar names and some similar features are mentioned in Renaissance documents in France, Italy, Germany, Croatia, and Spain, throughout, in fact, Catholic Europe. This is hardly surprising. By 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella of Castille and Aragon succeeded in driving the Moors out of Spain and unifying the country. In celebration of this a pageant known as a "Moresca" was devised and performed. This can still be seen performed in places such as Ainsa, Aragon. Incorporated into this pageant was the local dance - the Peloteao. This too can still be seen performed in the villages of Aragon. The similarity to what became known as the English "Morris" is undoubted.

Early court records state that the "Moresque" was performed at court in her honour, including the dance - the "moresque" or "morisce" or "morys" dance.

In the modern day, it is commonly thought of as a uniquely English activity, although there are around 150 morris sides (or teams) in the United States. British expatriates form a larger part of the morris tradition in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, and there are isolated groups in other countries, for example that in Utrecht, Netherlands. Motto (French) God and my right Anthem No official anthem - the United Kingdom anthem God Save the Queen is commonly used England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Unified  -  by Athelstan 927 AD  Area  -  Total 130... Utrecht is the smallest province of the Netherlands, and is located in the center of the country. ...


History in England

Illustration of William Kempe morris dancing from London to Norfolk in 1600
Illustration of William Kempe morris dancing from London to Norfolk in 1600
Morris dancers and a hobby horse: detail of Thames at Richmond, with the Old Royal Palace, c.1620
Morris dancers and a hobby horse: detail of Thames at Richmond, with the Old Royal Palace, c.1620

Before the English Civil War, the working peasantry took part in Morris dances, especially at Whitsun. In 1600 the Shakespearean actor William Kempe morris danced from London to Norwich, an event chronicled in his Nine Days Wonder (1600). The Puritan government of Oliver Cromwell, however, suppressed Whitsun Ales and other such festivities. When the crown was restored by Charles II, the springtime festivals were restored. In particular, Whitsun Ales came to be celebrated on Whitsunday, as the date coincided with the birthday of Charles II. Image File history File links WilliamKempe. ... Image File history File links WilliamKempe. ... William Kempe (also spelled Kemp) (fl. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... A hobby horse (or hobbyhorse) can be several things: A toy horse, consisting of a model of a horses head, usually wooden, attached to a stick. ... The English Civil War consisted of a series of armed conflicts and political machinations that took place between Parliamentarians (known as Roundheads) and Royalists (known as Cavaliers) between 1642 and 1651. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The word Whitsun is another name for Pentecost It has that meaning in the following: Whitsun, a poem by Sylvia Plath The Whitsun Weddings, a poem by Philip Larkin A Whitsun Ale (esp. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... William Kempe (also spelled Kemp) (fl. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... Norwich (IPA: //) is a city in East Anglia, in Eastern England. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658) was an English military and political leader best known for his involvement in making England into a republican Commonwealth and for his later role as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. ... Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. ... The term Whitsunday may refer to: The Sunday of the feast of Whitsun or Pentecost in the Christian calendar, observed 50 days after Easter. ...

Morris dancing continued in popularity until the industrial revolution and its accompanying social changes. Four teams claim a continuous lineage of tradition within their village or town: Abingdon (their Morris team was kept going by the Hemmings Family [1]), Bampton, Headington Quarry and Chipping Campden [2]. Other villages have revived their own traditions, and hundreds of other teams across the globe have adopted (and adapted) these traditions, or have created their own styles from the basic building blocks of morris stepping and figures. A Watt steam engine. ... Abingdon is a market town in Oxfordshire, England and is one of the towns which claim to be Britains oldest continuously occupied town. ... Bampton, sometimes Bampton-in-the-Bush is a village and civil parish in the West Oxfordshire district of Oxfordshire, England, located six miles south of Witney. ... The Headington Shark Headington is a residential suburb of Oxford, England, lying on top of a hill of the same name overlooking the city of Oxford in the river valley below. ... Chipping Campden is a Cotswold town in Gloucestershire, England, famous for its beautiful terraced High Street, dating from the 14th – 17th centuries. ...

Several English folklorists were responsible for recording and reviving the tradition in the early 20th century, often from a bare handful of surviving members of mid-19th-century village sides. Among these, the most notable are Cecil Sharp, Maud Karpeles, and Mary Neal. Boxing Day 1899 is widely regarded as the starting point for the morris revival. Cecil Sharp was visiting at a friend's house in Headington, near Oxford, when the Headington Quarry morris side arrived to perform. Sharp was intrigued by the music and collected several tunes from the side's musician, William Kimber; not until about a decade later, however, did he begin collecting the dances, spurred and at first assisted by Mary Neal, a founder of the Espérance Club (a dressmaking cooperative and club for young working women in London), and Herbert MacIlwaine, musical director of the Esperance Club. Neal was looking for dances for her girls to perform, and so the first revival performance was by young women in London. Cecil James Sharp (1859-1924) was the founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early twentieth century, and many of Englands traditional dances and music owe their continuing existence to his work in recording and publishing them. ... Mary Neal CBE (5 June 1860–22 June 1944), born Clara Sophia Neal, was an English social worker and collector of English folk dances. ... Boxing Day is a public holiday observed in many Commonwealth countries on 26 December. ... Cecil James Sharp (1859-1924) was the founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early twentieth century, and many of Englands traditional dances and music owe their continuing existence to his work in recording and publishing them. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... The Headington Shark Headington is a residential suburb of Oxford, England, lying on top of a hill of the same name overlooking the city of Oxford in the river valley below. ... William Kimber - Absolutely Classic CD cover William Merry Kimber (8 September 1872 – 26 December 1961), was an English concertina player and Morris Dancer who played a key role in the twentieth century revival of Morris Dancing, the traditional English folk dancing. ... Mary Neal CBE (5 June 1860–22 June 1944), born Clara Sophia Neal, was an English social worker and collector of English folk dances. ... The Espérance Club, and the Maison Espérance dressmaking cooperative, were founded in the mid-1890s by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and Mary Neal in response to distressing conditions for girls in the London dress trade. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ...

Morris dancing in the grounds of Wells Cathedral, Wells, England - Exeter Morris Men
Morris dancing in the grounds of Wells Cathedral, Wells, England - Exeter Morris Men

In the first few decades of the 20th century, several men's sides were formed, and in 1934 the Morris Ring was founded by six revival sides. In the 1960s and especially the 1970s, there was an explosion of new dance teams, some of them women's or mixed sides. At the time, there was often heated debate over the propriety and even legitimacy of women dancing the morris, even though there is evidence as far back as the 16th century that there were female morris dancers. There are now male, female and mixed sides to be found. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2408x1724, 1192 KB) Morris dancing in the grounds of Wells Cathedral, Wells, England. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2408x1724, 1192 KB) Morris dancing in the grounds of Wells Cathedral, Wells, England. ... Categories: ...

Partly because women's and mixed sides are not eligible for full membership of the Morris Ring, two other national (and international) bodies were formed, the Morris Federation and Open Morris. All three bodies provide communication, advice, insurance, instructionals (teaching sessions) and social and dancing opportunities to their members. The three bodies cooperate on some issues, while maintaining their distinct identities. The Morris Federation is one of the three existing umbrella organisations for morris dancing sides in the United Kingdom. ... Open Morris is one of the three umbrella groups for morris dance sides in England. ...


Today, there are six predominant styles of morris dancing, and different dances or traditions within each style named after their region of origin.

  • Cotswold morris: dances from an area mostly in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire; an established misnomer, since the Cotswolds overlap this region only partially. Normally danced with handkerchiefs or sticks to accompany the hand movements.
  • North West morris: more military in style and often processional. Clogs are a characteristic feature of this style of dance.
  • Border Morris from the English-Welsh border: a simpler, looser, more vigorous style, normally danced with blackened faces (or sometimes otherwise coloured, given the negative connotations for some of blackface).
  • Longsword dancing from Yorkshire and south Durham.
  • Rapper or Short sword dancing from Northumberland and Co. Durham.
  • Molly Dancing from East Anglia.

Gloucestershire (pronounced ; GLOSS-ter-sher) is a county in South West England. ... Oxfordshire (abbreviated Oxon, from the Latinised form Oxonia) is a county in the South East of England, bordering on Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Warwickshire. ... An editor has expressed a concern that the topic of this article may be unencyclopedic. ... The Cotswolds is the name given to a range of hills in central England, sometimes called the Heart of England, a hilly area reaching over 300 m or 1000 feet. ... The term Border Morris refers to a collection of individual local dances from villages along the English side of the Wales-England border. ... This article is about the country. ... This reproduction of a 1900 minstrel show poster, originally published by the Strobridge Litho Co. ...


Lionel Bacon records Cotswold morris traditions from these villages: Abingdon, Adderbury, Ascot-under-Wychwood, Badby, Bampton, Bidford, Bledington, Brackley, Bucknell, Chipping Campden, Ducklington, Eynsham, Headington Quarry, Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Ilmington, Kirtlington, Leafield ("Field Town"), Longborough, Oddington, Sherbourne, Stanton Harcourt, and Wheatley[2]. The Cotswolds are a range of hills in central England, sometimes called the heart of England, a hilly area reaching nearly 300 m or 1000 feet. ... Abingdon is a market town in Oxfordshire, England and is one of the towns which claim to be Britains oldest continuously occupied town. ... The village of Adderbury lies in Northern Oxfordshire, England, situated on the edge of the Cotswolds. ... Ascott-under-Wychwood is a village and civil parish in the West Oxfordshire district of Oxfordshire. ... Badby is a village in the Daventry district of the county of Northamptonshire in England. ... Bampton, sometimes Bampton-in-the-Bush is a village and civil parish in the West Oxfordshire district of Oxfordshire, England, located six miles south of Witney. ... Brackley Town Hall (photo by Andrew Smith, 2006) Brackley is a town in south Northamptonshire, England. ... Bucknell is a village and civil parish in the Cherwell district of Oxfordshire, England. ... The Headington Shark Headington is a residential suburb of Oxford, England, lying on top of a hill of the same name overlooking the city of Oxford in the river valley below. ... Hinton-in-the-Hedges is a small village in the English county of Northamptonshire. ... Lower Oddington and Upper Oddington are a pair of adjoining villages in the English county of Gloucestershire. ... Wheatley viewed from Windmill Lane Wheatley village lies six miles east of Oxford, in Oxfordshire, UK, in a valley at right angles to the river Thame. ...

Bacon also lists the tradition from Lichfield, which is Cotswold-like despite that city's distance from the Cotswold morris area; the authenticity of this tradition has been questioned. In 2006 a small number of dances from a previously-unknown tradition was discovered by Barry Care of Moulton Morris Men (Ravensthorpe, Northants) - two of them danceable. Other dances listed by Bacon include border morris dances from Brimfield, Bromsberrow Heath, Evesham, Leominster, Much Wenlock, Pershore, Upton-upon-Severn, Upton Snodsbury, and White Ladies Aston, and miscellaneous non-Cotswold, non-border dances from Steeple Claydon and Winster. There are a number of traditions which have been invented since the mid twentieth century, though few have been widely adopted. Examples are Broadwood, Duns Tew[3], and Ousington-under-Wash in the Cotswold style, and Upper and Lower Penn in the Border style. In fact, for many of the "collected" traditions in Bacon, only sketchy information is available about the way they were danced in the nineteenth century, and they have been reconstructed to a degree that makes them largely twentieth century inventions as well. Some traditions have been reconstructed in several strikingly disparate ways; an example would be Adderbury, danced very differently by the Adderbury Morris Men and the Adderbury Village Morris. The West Front of Lichfield Cathedral, June 2005 Lichfield (Welsh: Caerlwytgoed) is a small city and civil parish in Staffordshire, 110 miles northwest of London and 14 miles north of Birmingham. ... Location within the British Isles The Market Place in Evesham, circa 1904 Evesham (or the Sham as it is known to its inhabitants) is a middle-sized, rural market town in Worcestershire, England. ... Statistics Population: 11,000 Ordnance Survey OS grid reference: SO496591 Administration District: Herefordshire Region: West Midlands Constituent country: England Sovereign state: United Kingdom Other Ceremonial county: Herefordshire Historic county: Herefordshire Services Police force: West Mercia Fire and rescue: {{{Fire}}} Ambulance: {{{Ambulance}}} Post office and telephone Post town: LEOMINSTER Postal district... Much Wenlock is a town in Shropshire, England. ... Pershore is a small market town in Worcestershire, England on the banks of the River Avon. ... Upton-upon-Severn is a town in Worcestershire, England, on the River Severn. ... White Ladies Aston is a village and civil parish in the Wychavon district of Worcestershire, England, about 6 miles east of Worcester. ... Steeple Claydon is a village in Buckinghamshire, England. ... Tiny, picturesque village in the Derbyshire Dales They have a special event in the main street on the last Saturday in June which results in the road being closed. ...

North West

Horwich, a North West morris side.

The North West tradition is very different, and has always featured mixed and female sides — at least as far back as the eighteenth century. There is a picture of Eccles Wakes (painted in the 1820s, judging by the style of dress of some of the participants and spectators) that shows both male and female dancers. North West Morris dance, Oxford, 2004-05-01. ... North West Morris dance, Oxford, 2004-05-01. ...

The dancers always wore clogs and were often associated with rushcarts at the local wakes or holidays. The dances themselves were often called 'maze' or 'garland dances' as they involved a very intricate set of movements in which the dances wove in and out of each other. Some dances were performed with a wicker hoop (decorated with garlands of flowers) held above the dancer's head. Some dancers were also associated with a tradition of mumming, holding a pace egging play in their area. This article or section needs to be wikified. ... There are two major branches to the tradition of the Mummers Play (also known as mumming, and by various other regional names): firstly, the folk tradition of troupes of mummers performing theatre, sometimes in the street but more usually as house-to-house visits and in public houses; secondly, the...

The Britannia Coco-nut Dancers, named after a mill not far from Bacup, are unique in the tradition, in that they used sawn bobbins to make a noise, and perform to the accompaniment of a brass ensemble. They are one of the few North West morris groups that still black up their faces. It is said that the dance found its way to the area through Cornishmen who migrated to work in the Rossendale quarries. Bacup is a town of the Rossendale Borough, in Lancashire, England. ... Rossendale is a local government district with borough status. ...

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Lancashire tradition was taken up by sides associated with mills and nonconformist chapels, usually composed of young girls. These lasted until the First World War, after which many mutated into 'jazz dancers.' (A Bolton troupe can be seen in a pre-war documentary by Humphrey Jennings) They later evolved into 'pom pom' dancers (still called 'morris dancers' by older people). During the folk revival in the 1960s, many of the old steps to dances such as 'Stubbins Lane Garland' were often passed on by old people. Ypres, 1917, in the vicinity of the Battle of Passchendaele. ... Humphrey Jennings, (August 19, 1907 Walberswick, Suffolk - September 24, 1950 Greece), was a British film-maker and one of the founders of the Mass Observation organization. ...


The term "border morris" was first used by E. C. Cawte in a 1963 article[4] on the morris dance traditions of Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Worcestershire — counties along the border with Wales. Characteristics of the tradition as practiced in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries include blackface (in some areas); use of either a small strip of bells (in some areas) or no bells at all (in others); costume often consisting of ordinary clothes decorated with ribbons, strips of cloth, or pieces of coloured paper; or sometimes "fancy dress"; small numbers of dances in the team repertoire, often only one and rarely more than two; highly variable number of dancers in the set and configurations of the set (some sides had different versions of a dance for different numbers of dancers); and an emphasis on stick dances almost to the exclusion of hankie dances.[5] Dances tended to be uncomplicated in form, e.g. alternation of sticking with a hey; stepping was likewise not elaborate. While performances at various times of the year are recorded, the most common dancing occasion was Boxing Day. Border morris performance persisted into the early twentieth century before it died out. Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county and unitary district (known as County of Herefordshire) in the West Midlands region of England. ... Shropshire (alternatively Salop or abbreviated Shrops) is a county in the West Midlands of England. ... Worcestershire (pronounced ; abbreviated Worcs) is a county located in the West Midlands region of central England. ... This article is about the country. ... Boxing Day is a public holiday observed in many Commonwealth countries on 26 December. ...

Many dances were collected, by Cecil Sharp and later collectors, and several were included in Bacon's book,[2] but border morris was largely neglected by revival morris sides until late in the twentieth century. The Silurian Morris Men of Ledbury, Herefordshire changed over from Cotswold to border morris in 1979,[6] and the Shropshire Bedlams were founded in 1975;[7] both became pioneers of a resurgence of border morris among revival sides in the following decades. Silurian has emphasized re-creation of the traditional border dances, while the Shropshire Bedlams have created a new repertoire of what some call "neo-border" dances, tending to be more complex and theatrical than the collected dances. Cecil James Sharp (1859-1924) was the founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early twentieth century, and many of Englands traditional dances and music owe their continuing existence to his work in recording and publishing them. ...

Sword dancing

Usually regarded as a type of morris, although many of the performers themselves consider it as a traditional dance form in its own right, is the sword dance tradition, which includes both rapper sword and longsword traditions. In both styles the "swords" are not actual swords, but implements specifically made for the dance. The dancers are usually linked one to another via the swords, with one end of each held by one dancer and the other end by another. Rapper sides usually consist of five dancers, who are permanently linked-up during the dance. The rapper sword is a very flexible strip of spring-steel, with a fixed handle at one end, and a rotating handle at the other. The longsword is about 0.8 metres long, with a wooden handle at one end, a rounded tip, and no edge. Longsword sides consist usually of either six or eight dancers. In both rapper and longsword there is often with a supernumerary, who dances around, outside, and inside the set. Although sometimes treated as a form of morris dance, sword dancers are proud of their own tradition and often wish to be treated as a traditional dance category in its own right. ... Rapper sword is a kind of sword dance. ... The Long Sword dance is a hilt-and-point sword dance recorded mainly in Yorkshire in England. ...


The English mummers play occasionally involves morris or sword dances either incorporated as part of the play or performed at the same event. Mummers plays are often performed in the streets near Christmas to celebrate the New Year and the coming springtime. In has central themes of death and re-birth. Mummers Plays (also known as mumming) are seasonal folk plays performed by troupes of actors known as mummers or guisers (or by local names such as rhymers, pace-eggers, soulers, tipteerers, galoshins and so on), originally in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales (see wrenboys), but later in other parts of...

Other traditions

Other forms include Molly dance from Cambridgeshire. Molly dance, which is associated with Plough Monday, is a parodic form danced in work boots and with at least one Molly man dressed as a woman. The largest Molly Dance event is the Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival, established in 1980, held at Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire in January. Molly dancing is a form of English Morris dance, traditionally done by out of work ploughboys in midwinter in the 19th century. ... Cambridgeshire (abbreviated Cambs) is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west. ... Plough Monday is the traditional start of the English agricultural year. ...

There is also hoodening which comes from East Kent, and the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. Hoodening, also called Hodening, is an East Kent tradition vaguely related to Mumming and the Morris dance, and dating back at least to the mid-18th century. ... coat of Arms of Kent For other uses, see Kent (disambiguation). ... The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance is a remarkable folk survival, taking place each year in Abbots Bromley, a small village in Staffordshire, England. ...

Another expression of the Morris tradition is Vessel Cupping. This was practiced in the East Riding of Yorkshire up to the 1920s. It was a form danced by itinerant ploughboys in sets of three or four, about the time of Candlemas. The East Riding of Yorkshire is a local government district with unitary authority status, and a ceremonial county of England. ... The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple was an early episode of the life of Jesus. ...


Music was traditionally provided by either a pipe and tabor or a fiddle. These are still used today, but the most common instrument is the melodeon. Accordions and concertinas are also common, and other instruments are sometimes used. Often drums are employed for example the Bodhrán. Pipe describes a number of musical instruments, historically referring to perforated wind instruments. ... // Jazz The earliest references to jazz performance using the violin as a solo instrument are documented during the first decades of the 20th century. ... The terms melodeon and melodion can refer to any of several related musical instruments of the free reed aerophone family: A type of 19th century reed organ with a foot-operated vacuum bellows, and a piano keyboard. ... This article is about the instrument as a whole. ... English concertina made by Wheatstone around 1920 A concertina, like the various accordions, is a member of the free-reed family of instruments. ... Bodhrán with tipper The bodhrán (IPA or ; plural bodhráns or bodhráin) is an Irish frame drum ranging from 25 to 65cm (10 to 26) in diameter, with most drums measuring 35 to 45cm (14 to 18). The sides of the drum are 9 to 20cm (3...

Cotswold and sword dancers are most often accompanied by a single player, but Northwest and Border sides often have a band, usually including a drum.

For Cotswold and (to a degree) Border dances, the tunes are traditional and specific: the name of the dance is often actually the name of the tune, and dances of the same name from different traditions will have slightly different tunes. For Northwest and sword dancing there is less often a specific tune for a dance: the players may use several tunes, and will often change tunes during a dance.

Several notable albums have been released, in particular the Morris On series, which consists of Son of Morris On, Grandson of Morris On, Great Grandson of Morris On, and Morris On The Road. A folk/rock album released in 1972 under the joint names of Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson, Dave Mattacks, John Kirkpatrick and Barry Dransfield. ... Grandson of Morris On is a thematic album produced by Ashley Hutchings. ... Great Grandson of Morris On is a thematic album produced by Ashley Hutchings. ...


Like many activities, morris dancing has a range of words and phrases that it uses in special ways.

Many participants will refer to the world of morris dancing as a whole as the morris.

A morris troupe is usually referred to as a side or a team. As can be seen in preceding paragraphs, the two terms are interchangeable. (Despite the competitive connotation of both words, morris dancing is hardly ever competitive).

A set (which can also be referred to as a side) is a number of dancers in a particular arrangement for a dance. Most Cotswold morris dances are danced in a rectangular set of six dancers, and most Northwest dances in a rectangular set of eight; but there are many exceptions.

A jig in morris dancing is a dance performed by one (or sometimes two) dancers, rather than by a set. Its music does not usually have the rhythm implied by the word jig in contexts outside morris dancing. The jig (sometimes seen in its French language or Italian language forms gigue or giga) is a folk dance type as well as the accompanying dance tune type, popular in Ireland and Scotland. ...

The titles of officers will vary from side to side, but most sides have at least the following:

  • The role of the squire varies. On some sides the squire is the leader of the side, who will speak for the side in public, will usually lead or call the dances, and will often decide the programme for a performance. On other sides the squire is more of an administrator, with the foreman taking more of a leadership role, and with dances being called by any experienced dancer.
  • The foreman is the person who teaches and trains the dancers, and is responsible for the style and standard of the side's dancing.
  • The bagman is traditionally the keeper of the bag — that is to say, the side's funds. On some sides today the bagman acts as secretary (particularly bookings secretary) and there is often a treasurer separate from the bagman.
  • On some sides a a ragman manages and co-ordinates the team's kit, or costume. This may include construction of bell-pads, ribbon bads, sashes and other accoutrements.

Many sides have one or more fools. A fool will usually be extravagantly dressed, and will be communicating directly with the audience, whether in speech or in mime. Often the fool will dance around and even through a dance without appearing to really be a part of it, but it usually takes an unusually talented dancer to pull off such fooling while actually adding to and not distracting from the main dance set.

Many sides also have a beast: a dancer in a costume which is made to look like a real or mythical animal. Beasts mainly interact with the audience, particularly children. In some groups this dancer is called the hobby.

A tradition in Cotswold morris is a collection of dances which come from a particular area, and have something in common: usually the particular steps, the arm movements, and the figures danced. Many newer traditions are in fact invented by revival teams.

Most Cotswold dances alternate common figures (or just figures) with a distinctive figure (or chorus). The common figures are common to all (or some) dances in the tradition; the distinctive figure distinguishes that dance from other dances in the tradition. Sometimes, (particularly in corner dances) the chorus is not identical each time it comes in a dance, but has its own sequence of forms specific to the tradition; nevertheless something about the way the chorus is danced will distinguish that dance from other dances. Frequently several traditions will have essentially the same dance, where the name, tune, and distinctive figure are the same or similar, but each tradition uses its own common figures and style of dancing.

In England, an ale is a private party where a number of morris sides get together and perform dances for their own enjoyment rather than as a performance for an audience. Usually food will be supplied, and sometimes this is a formal sit-down meal known as a feast or ale-feast. Occasionally an evening ale will be combined with a day or weekend of dance, where all the invited sides will tour the local area and perform their dances for the public. In North America the term is widely used to describe a full weekend of dancing involving public performances and sometimes workshops. In the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, the term "ale" referred to a church- or village-sponsored event where ale or beer was sold to raise funds. Morris dancers were often employed at such events.


"Morris" is sometimes capitalized though in this context it is not a proper noun.

See also

The dance may have given name to the board games three men's morris, six men's morris and nine men's morris. Three Mens Morris is played on a three-line by three-line board, and is a game of position. ... Six Mens Morris is a board game popular during the Middle Ages in England, France and Italy. ... Nine Mens Morris is an abstract strategy board game for two players that emerged from the Roman Empire. ...

Erasmus Grasser, a German sculptor, created 16 realistic animated wood figures in the late 15th century called the morris dancers. One of 16 (now 10) Morris Dancers by Erasmus Grasser, Munich, 1480. ...

  • List of morris dance sides

British satirist/novelist Terry Pratchett features morris dancing in a number of his works, most notably "Lords and Ladies" and "Wintersmith" Terence David John Pratchett OBE (born April 28, 1948, in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England[1]) is an English fantasy author, best known for his Discworld series. ... Lords and Ladies is the fourteenth Discworld book by Terry Pratchett. ... Wintersmith is the title of the third Tiffany Aching novel in Terry Pratchetts Discworld series, published on the 21 September 2006. ...


  1. ^ Hemmings tradition
  2. ^ a b Bacon, Lionel 1974 A Handbook of Morris Dances. Published by The morris Ring
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Cawte, E. C. (1963). "The Morris Dance in Hereford, Shropshire and Worcestershire". Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society 9 (4): 197-212. 
  5. ^ Jones, Dave (1988). The Roots of Welsh Border Morris. Morris Ring. 
  6. ^ History. Silurian Border Morris Men. Retrieved on 2006-10-11.
  7. ^ Kirkpatrick, John (1979). "Bordering On the Insane". English Dance and Song 41: 12-14. 

For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... October 11 is the 284th day of the year (285th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


  • Forrest, John. The History of Morris Dancing, 1483-1750. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1999.

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Ishmael on Morris Dancing (572 words)
The Morris comprises a variety of forms of traditional ritual dances from England, but The Black Jokers specialize in Cotswold Morris, as was practiced in the villages of Bledington and Brackley in the English Midlands.
Morris Dancing is one of the characteristic Folk Dances of England.
Morris Teams on the Web, a public service maintained by Jeff Bigler of Middlesex Morris is the place to find the latest links, but here are some that I have had since the early days, when the number of Morris related WWW sites could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
  More results at FactBites »



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