Mudcat Café message #2536066 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #117529   Message #2536066
Posted By: AggieD
09-Jan-09 - 11:11 AM
Thread Name: Morris joins the Dodo?
Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
Been following this thread with interest as I've been involved with Morris for very many years as a dancer & now musician.

I see a very mixed bag when it comes to the death of sides. Yes there does seem a great reluctance of some young men to join established all male sides, no matter how good the established dancers are, but if those dancers shall we say look obviously rather mature in years, despite being very good dancers, then there seems to be an unwillingness for younger men to join, and if they do join then they often can't always participate because of work or family commitments, which is happening to one of our local mens teams. They have always worked towards excellence in their dancing & give very good displays of Morris, but even if they have got younger men to join then can't keep them interested enough to want to stay.

However it doesn't seem to be quite such a problem with womens and mixed teams.

Could one of the reasons be that with younger people who may have familes the womens & mixed teams are more family orientated? We actively encourage children to come along when we dance out & if they show any slight inclination musically, then we shove something into their hands that they can beat or shake & teach them about rhythm of the dancing & start trying to get them interested. Possibly by Ring sides excluding women generally (I know lots of teams do belong to the Ring & allow women musicians), then they are stopping younger people with families participating? After all how many young women these days only want to be allowed to do the tea after the day of dance from which they have been excluded from joining in?

Also as women we tend to go along to dance at places where families can be taken & will find something to do. We don't exclude partners who don't dance, but actively try to find some venues where they can find something to do, and if the partners don't come along then the younger women know that there will always be someone to keep an eye out for the kids while Mum dances. Possibly men aren't going to do this if their main aim is to only get enough dancing done to justify diving into the pub?

And I think that the kit we wear is important. As a side we have always tried to keep relatively up to date & not wear anything that is too embarrasing to be seen in public when you're not with your team. Personally never worried me, but it does some people.

I think we as perfomers have to put on the show to entertain the public, so we make sure that we are well rehearsed when we do anything more formal than a one-man-&-his-dog pub locally. I have crawled with embarrassment at some teams that amble on to a stand with four people then spend the next few minutes trying to get 2 more dancers, then shift around because one doesn't know how to do the dance from that spot. Again just about OK down the local with no-one to watch you, but certainly not in front of crowds of people in town centres, which is what gives us the buffoon image for people to laugh at & justifies the public image of Morris in this country.

JosephP the black book is a 'A Handbook of Morris Dances' by Lionel Bacon