Mudcat Café message #2535835 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #117529   Message #2535835
Posted By: GUEST,banksie
09-Jan-09 - 07:09 AM
Thread Name: Morris joins the Dodo?
Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
Ruth wrote:
"I may be digging myself a bit of a hole here, but I almost think that the popularity of certain types of morris in recent years are contributing to the decline in standards. I wouldn't dream of naming names, but some sides seem to have given a lot more thought and attention to their fabulous kit and ther facepaint than to the quality of the dancing, which can be pretty shoddy (IMHO)."

Well, its an opinion I agree with. I'm now an ex-Cotswold dancer (after about 25 years on and off) but for a short period of time I tried a Border side (because it was mixed and my wife and I could do it together). I was introduced by the foreman as `a real morris dancer' because I could dance Cotswold, and caused much shock when I suggested a stepping workshop might be a good idea. The notion of the whole side using the same feet at the same time seemed slightly heretical :-)

They were largely interested in the tattercoat-and-facepaint bit and, to be fair, it seems that most audiences are taken with that bit as well. Which then raises an important point. Many Cotswold sides do seem to forget the aspect of putting on `a show'. It is street theatre. Those that do that bit - Great Western for example - also seem to attract more younger dancers, while The Outside Capering Crew have turned it into proper street theatre - as well as being great dancers (all of the current dancers are multiple Sidmouth Jig Contest winners, I think).

It is fair to suggest that many dancers - and it shows most with Cotswold if only because they pay the least attention to the `show' component - give the impression that dancing is a necessary evil that has to be borne between arriving at the pub and serious drinking. At best many make the mistake of dancing far too fast, so that the likes of Linklater can feel justified with the `mimsy jumps' comment.

Even though Border sides may put on the biggest show, the best of them make sure that the show is underpinned by serious levels of skill at the dancing itself. Go to a Shropshire Bedlams workshop to see how fundamentally precise they aim to be. And the Bedlams have several young dancers coming through, while Molly sides like Gog Magog and Ouse Wash are predominantly young dancers, with the most outrageous costumes and facepaints, yet their workshops show they take the dancing that underpins it very seriously.

The real trouble with this story is that The Ring has largely shot itself in the foot by bemoaning the fact that hardly any young people are interested in participate in so much that contributes to the poor perception of morris. And quite right too, why the hell should they.

Put them in front of Morris Offspring, Dog Rose Morris etc and then ask the questions.

And as an aside, I have been known (at parties and things like that, to do some disco dancing (and yes, there's the classic "Oh God, grandad's dancing" observations). But you can double step to most pop songs, and it is surprising how many young people suddenly start to join in and copy it. Maybe sides should do more dancing to pop songs (the famous `Horse' argument).