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Morris joins the Dodo?

Les in Chorlton 08 Jan 09 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,flapjackdavey 08 Jan 09 - 09:08 AM
Les in Chorlton 08 Jan 09 - 09:29 AM
Joseph P 08 Jan 09 - 10:08 AM
Les in Chorlton 08 Jan 09 - 10:57 AM
greg stephens 08 Jan 09 - 11:10 AM
Joseph P 08 Jan 09 - 11:29 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Jan 09 - 11:39 AM
Marje 08 Jan 09 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,boosh 08 Jan 09 - 12:49 PM
Les in Chorlton 08 Jan 09 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Ed Worrall 08 Jan 09 - 02:10 PM
GUEST,Ed Worrall 08 Jan 09 - 02:38 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Jan 09 - 02:45 PM
Phil Edwards 08 Jan 09 - 02:51 PM
GUEST,Ed Worrall 08 Jan 09 - 03:28 PM
melodeonplayer 08 Jan 09 - 06:49 PM
Kev The Clogs 08 Jan 09 - 06:54 PM
Les in Chorlton 09 Jan 09 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,Motley Muso - Lisa 09 Jan 09 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 09 Jan 09 - 06:57 AM
Ruth Archer 09 Jan 09 - 07:05 AM
GUEST,banksie 09 Jan 09 - 07:09 AM
Les in Chorlton 09 Jan 09 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Neovo 09 Jan 09 - 08:07 AM
Les in Chorlton 09 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM
Gedi 09 Jan 09 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,Neovo 09 Jan 09 - 09:27 AM
Joseph P 09 Jan 09 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 09 Jan 09 - 09:34 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 09 Jan 09 - 09:52 AM
GUEST 09 Jan 09 - 10:11 AM
Joseph P 09 Jan 09 - 10:16 AM
AggieD 09 Jan 09 - 11:11 AM
AggieD 09 Jan 09 - 11:18 AM
Joseph P 09 Jan 09 - 11:24 AM
Les in Chorlton 09 Jan 09 - 11:42 AM
Richard Bridge 09 Jan 09 - 11:47 AM
Marje 09 Jan 09 - 01:26 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Jan 09 - 01:33 PM
Marje 09 Jan 09 - 01:49 PM
romany man 09 Jan 09 - 04:41 PM
MikeofNorthumbria 10 Jan 09 - 03:10 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Jan 09 - 04:48 AM
The Borchester Echo 10 Jan 09 - 04:56 AM
LesB 10 Jan 09 - 05:04 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Jan 09 - 05:04 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 10 Jan 09 - 08:00 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Jan 09 - 08:16 AM
steve_harris 10 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM
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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 05:36 AM

How would Chipping Camp-den dance ten?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,flapjackdavey
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 09:08 AM

I often listen to LBC the talk radio station ( sorry non London people ) and the other night was no exception . I was particularly interested as the presenter was discussing the topic raised by this thread . He took loads of calls from listeners who were of the " there are only two things in life you shouldn't try , incest and Morris Dancing " variety , and very few from people who were pro morris dancing or any kind of traditional dancing etc .Those thatwere pro that he spoke to you could tell that there was a mocking tone in his voice . I sent in a text saying that their there are plenty of places you can go to see young people dancing , Towersey festival for example , though I know that its not just Morris specifically ,but hey ! its young people furthering the tradion
.... needless to say he didn't read out my text ..... the dickhead !


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 09:29 AM

I Know just what you mean davey,

the media whoever they are are dodgy. I have generally found that if you know more than the average about something ie Morris Dancing, Folk Songs, Hiking, Beer, Climate Change, Jam Making, Sex .............. if you read something in the press or see something on the box they will get something or other wrong. So how safe are they with World Paece and Banking?

Cheers

"Tribute" Morris anybody?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Joseph P
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 10:08 AM

his isn't morris dancing, its just a tribute????


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 10:57 AM

Not entirely sure of your point there Joseph

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 11:10 AM

Two points strike me on this topic. Firstly, any decline can't have anything to do with the all male-ness of some sides. Do football cricket and rugby have a problem? No? Do they have all maleteams? Yes.
Secondly, the quote about incest refers to country dancing, not morris dancing. And, specifically, about the kind of country dancing purveyed by primary school teachers between the wars. And who could deny its validity?


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Joseph P
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 11:29 AM

My point was a vague reference to the song 'tribute'

Not a point really ....


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 11:39 AM

Who indeed is safe with World Paece? Indeed what is it?


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Marje
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 12:36 PM

Tha all-maleness of Ring sides has got to be a factor in its decline. If this were not the case, the mixed and female sides would be declining at a similar rate, and all the signs are that they're not. It is apparent that many younger men who want to take up morris prefer to join a mixed side. Young women don't have the same hang-ups about dancing as many English males do, and are happy to join either all-female or mixed sides. It's the all-male (mainly Ring) sides that are suffering most.

I'll get jumped on for saying this, but it's also highly likely that the many of the sides that include women are better run, as women tend to be better at the networking and organisation than men are. This will give them a selective advantage when it comes to getting stands, bookings etc, so they'll continue to attract more members.

As for the comparison with sports - well, team sports like football and rugby are now played by women in their own leagues. Like most sports, they're generally not played mixed, presumably on grounds of fairness and decency. But although many sports are segregated, some allow women and men to mix when it's appropriate and beneficial - women act as coxes to rowing teams, for instance. And in some sports such as tennis there are mixed and single-sex events. In informal and friendly games, there are now few barriers, and you can see mixed teams in all sorts of sports. Even that last bastion of maleness, darts, is now being played by women professionally.

In other words, sport has moved on, as has morris, but while Ring sides continue to cling to the ideas (both erroneous) that (1) women never used to dance morris and (2) this means they never should, they'll soon find themselves with only the Catholic church to support their arguments.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,boosh
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 12:49 PM

i'm 15 years old, and in response to the original message, would like to say with great enthusiasm that myself and several of my friends are very proud to call ourselves morris dancers!
The shortage of young dancers is probably due to the stereotypical image that most people have of morris dancing (which goes somewhere along the lines of Bells, Flowers, Hankies and bearded old men). They dont realise that most morris dancing aint like that at all, until they witness it for themselves.
However, i don't think the tradition is under threat of extinction, because i know there are loads of other young morris sides who are just as passionate as the older generation of morris dancers about keeping the tradition alive.
Vive La Morris!

xx


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 12:53 PM

I have a basic opposition to single gender groups. Apparently Sharp found women dancing Morris but chose not to make much of it. We still seem to have this pagan / fertility / I don't really know history to Morris that doesn't seem to be true. Am I correct in thinking the Morris Ring hang on to this more than most and use as an excuse to exclude women, unless of course the cannot get male musicians?

If sides have been doing something for a long time (100 years? 200 years?) then carrying it on makes some sense. Starting afresh? Not quite the same.

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,Ed Worrall
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 02:10 PM

Hmm Les, did Gorton dance mixed?


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,Ed Worrall
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 02:38 PM

Just re-read your post boosh, you and your mates are the reason Morris won't die out, getting involved with it because it's fun. That's why anyone does it isn't it? I can't see that changing. More power to you all!

Marje - I'm not going to jump on you, but stereotypes from anyone don't help. It's as legitimate to dance as a Male team as it is a Female or mixed one. Surely it's a big enough world for that.

IMHO the best way to kill off Morris to waste our time arguing who is right or wrong (no-one!), rather than getting out there and dancing our socks off!


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 02:45 PM

There may be an analogue here of the divide between FOLKSONG singers and snigger snogwriters - on the one hand black book dancers, and on the others the performers of new dances.

There does not seem to be as far as I can see a dance equivalent of the practice of taking a FOLK song and re-arranging it.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 02:51 PM

It's as legitimate to dance as a Male team as it is a Female or mixed one.

Well, there's a difference between "we want our Morris side to be male-only" and "we think all Morris sides should be male-only". I think most of the flak directed at the Ring relates to the second attitude, not the first one.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,Ed Worrall
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 03:28 PM

Pip - Very true and I'd give some flak of my own to that 2nd attitude!

My point is that Male sides are one of the many forms of Morris, and their existence is not a threat to anyone elses viewpoint. We shouldn't be insecure about that, the assumpution that this argument has to be won against the Ring feels like the 1970's, I know there's a recession that feels like we're in 'Life on Mars' but haven't we moved on?!

Let's get all get out there in 2009 and show how vibrant, diverse and alive and kicking we are!


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: melodeonplayer
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 06:49 PM

I am member of a ring team, and as far as i am concerned we want our side to be male only! And we certainly don't think all sides should be male only. We do dance out with Womens and mixed sides. As do many ring sides up and down the country.

We have also been making up our own dances since 1972. Now danced around the world by many teams

My wife dances with a women only team ! And i couldn't join that if i wanted to.

What about a certain womens team that only allows women under a certain dress size (14) to join !!!!

Power to all teams, Female, male, mixed and other,,,,as long as they are good and entertaining!!!!

Cheers
Simon Care
Moulton Morris Men


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Kev The Clogs
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 06:54 PM

Boosh - you go for it lad!!! I glad you are proud and I would gladly have a pint with you. I don't know what tradition you folllow, but whatever it is, I hope you are still doing it in your old age. I'm from Kent, and have often said that "The Tradition" will nor die, if we can get young people like yourself to take up the banner. Just wish we could attract some new bloood to our Clog And Longsword side - HOWEVER - if that means getting new blood and themtaking us oldies (only 45 me) and developing it so that it moves on, then I'm up for it!!!

Kev


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 06:25 AM

Ed Worral challenges me on Gorton - fair point. I have clearly failed to explain myself and not for the first time.

Gorton, now 'resting', were revived in the 1970's by a collection of young men from Gorton. They based their dances and kit etc. on the accounts in the Gorton Historical Recorder from the 19 C. The records show Gorton to have beeen a male only side and that's what was revived in the 1970's.

I danced with them from '78 to around '83 and much enjoyed the experience with an amazing collection of people. We danced at a number of Festivals and nearly went to Russia but much more often we danced at local events and often did small pub tours on Friday nights in what were once small towns and suburbs of Manchester. Sometimes in the rain, on the pavement outside pubs and chip shops. I think that was part of the history of Gorton and it certainly made for dramatic, atmospheric experiences for people going to the chipy.

The business of collapse and revival seems to have happened to many of the sides that existed through the 19C and into the 20C. This has just as true for Gorton as it has been for famous Cotswold sides.

I used to think Morris was "old and strange" and that was why it was worth seeing. Northwest sides with their big teams, elaborate kit, sometimes brass bands are somehow straight out of the Industrial Revolution, are "old and strange" in a different way but still part of the history of working people.

People will do whatever they want and that's fine. But I am still unclear about what, for instance, mixed Border sides from the south east are reviving.

I would like to know what Simon Care thinks about "The Fluffies", the Carnival Morris of girls, quite common in the Northwest. They are clearly evolved from Northwest Morris. Should they be encouraged to join the Ring or the Federation? Will Northwest, Cotswold or Border sides be inviting them to their next day of dance?

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,Motley Muso - Lisa
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 06:25 AM

heheheheh
Kev - I expect you've seen Simon dance and play (sometimes at the same time) at Broadstairs without even knowing it....I'm sure he won't mind me saying that he's not that much younger than you but his dancing is a bit more vigorous than Gundulph (no offence intended... you know I love em !)
here's the link to his Jeremy Vine intervew (about 42 mins in)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00gfydb


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 06:57 AM

Les, I'm a bit unclear what you're saying. From your comment about SE sides dancing Border you appear to be suggesting that sides should only be revived where there was an original tradition to draw on (as in the case of Gorton).

Given that morris appears to have once been widespread throughout the country, it seems unlikely that there weren't once traditions from the SE, unfortunately most of them haven't been recorded (although IIRC there's a dance from Herts in the Black Book). So why shouldn't new sides start up, and dance whatever they want?

If you come from an area with a recorded tradition, then it is likely (but not inevitable) that you will want to retain that local connection, but if not there is no reason not to dance whatever style takes your fancy.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 07:05 AM

"I would like to know what Simon Care thinks about "The Fluffies", the Carnival Morris of girls, quite common in the Northwest. They are clearly evolved from Northwest Morris."

IIRC, my partner, who used to dance with a Northwest side, was once dancing at an event where there was also a Carnival morris side of young girls. When the Northwest side struck up, one of the Carnival girls was heard to pipe up (cue broad Scouse accent): "Eh, they know all our dances!"


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,banksie
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 07:09 AM

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).


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 07:32 AM

Howard,

"Les, I'm a bit unclear what you're saying. From your comment about SE sides dancing Border you appear to be suggesting that sides should only be revived where there was an original tradition to draw on (as in the case of Gorton)."

Sorry, every time I restate my case, I generate further confusion. The thread is about the survival of Morris Dancing. I feel sure it will survive but I am not sure what some of it is. In some cases it seems to have turned into a form of outdoor badminton with music.

I think that seeing the Padstow Oss, is a bit special as is a Northwest side in a Northwest town or Cotswold side in small towns or villages. I guess we have all danced in shopping precincts but what message are we giving about The Morris when sides with no history are dancing made up dances in parts of the country with maybe a tenuous connection with that particular version of The Morris?

I think the Ring have a particular problem because they have an invented history of men only and fertlity / pre-christian nonsense that puts a lot of us off. I am not sure this puts young people of any more than anything else.

Does this matter? Not much. Can we have too much Morris? Maybe

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 08:07 AM

It is my understanding that fluffy Carnival and what we know as North West Morris evolved from the same roots but evolved separately and in different directions. Carnival is done competetively.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM

Interesting point Neovo, what root would that be then? Old traditions hav a habit of being passed to children when adults no longer want them, see 'The Stations of the Sun'.

My understanding was that North West or Northwest was danced by women in the 19 and early 20C and passed to the girls and has evolved through the 20C.

Perhaps others have a more cpmplete knowledge?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Gedi
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 08:25 AM

I dont have much to contribute to this argument since I know practically nothing about Morris. However I have (many years ago) seen these troops of young girls doing what seemed to me Cheerleader type dances and passing it off as Morris which I thought was something of a travesty. By all means have the dancing competitions but to me it is nothing like true Morris.

I have been truly delighted and excited when on the odd occasion I have been out in the countryside and come across a group of Morris Men doing their stuff outside the village pub. Brilliant! And long may it continue.

On a slightly differen note, apparently the PM programme on Radio 4 will be doing a feature on Morris later today, Friday, sometime between 5 and 6pm. Should be worth listening to I reckon.

Ged


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 09:27 AM

Hi Les

Yes, in the early days danced by young girls and boys (or girls dressed as boys in some troupes if no boys were available)as well as men (eg Horwich and their famous prize medal) but you're right, females were involved from the beginning. Try getting hold of Pru Boswell's books on morris in the lancashire plain.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Joseph P
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 09:27 AM

What is this black book? Some sort of bible?

discuss.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 09:34 AM

Gedi, what you are describing is the "Fluffy Morris" or "Carnival Morris" referred to in some of the posts above. I'm not sure how it came to be called "morris" but the name is of long standing. It's done by little girls rather than men in beards and I'm fairly sure pubs don't feature.

Fluffy Morris


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 09:52 AM

Les in Chorlton wrote "…what message are we giving about The Morris when sides with no history are dancing made up dances in parts of the country with maybe a tenuous connection with that particular version of The Morris?"   

It would take a book to answer your question properly Les, and I don't have time to write one just now, so please take what follows as a preliminary sketch of an answer.

What message are we giving? Well actually, several messages. Firstly, that it feels good to be alive and kicking, rather than dead or drooping. Secondly, that leaping about to the beat of a cheerful tune while tracing geometrical patterns on the pavement can be fun.   And thirdly, that whether we see this activity as the preservation of an ancient tradition or simply a piece of street theatre, it can brighten people's lives for a moment as they pass by - and for a bit longer if they hang around and watch.

What about some of the dances being "made up"?   Well, at several places where there is a particularly intimate connection between "traditional" dancers and their locality (e g Bampton, Abbot's Bromley, or Padstow) records show that over the years performers have "made up" significant changes to what they do.   Why not? It's the locals who own the dances, not the folk-lore scholars. And as St Paul said to the Corinthians "the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life" (2nd epistle, ch3, v 6)

What about dances that have no direct "connection" to the places where they are now performed? Well, can we really be certain there is no connection? We have only fragmentary records of the dances our ancestors used to perform. Some have been preserved more or less intact, but there is good evidence for the existence of others whose details went unrecorded, and it seems reasonable to infer that many more have been entirely forgotten.
   
It's true that by the time academic folklorists began studying them, specific styles of dancing did appear to be rooted in particular regions. But we can be reasonably sure that most "traditional" dances weren't created from scratch in the places where they were eventually collected. On the contrary, the surviving evidence strongly suggests that Morris dancing was imported into England sometime before 1450, probably as a metropolitan novelty. Over the next few centuries, it spread outwards geographically and downwards socially, changing its form to suit local tastes and circumstances. But the details of who did what, where and when remain conjectural.   

In the midst of all this scholarly uncertainty, why spend so much time and energy arguing inconclusively about authenticity? Leave that to scholars who are too old and stiff to dance themselves. While we're still fit enough, let's get on with the dance, do it as well as we can, and pass it on to others who show an interest.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 10:11 AM

Les said "whether we see this activity as the preservation of an ancient tradition or simply a piece of street theatre"

Why does it have to be either/or !!!!!

i see it as both!!!

Simon


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Joseph P
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 10:16 AM

But the arguing is too much fun. Round these parts the politics is much a part of the Morris as the dancing and has been for many years, long may this continue, and long may we disagree!


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: AggieD
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 11:11 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: AggieD
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 11:18 AM

Sorry JosephP I thought you were asking a genuine question rather than opening a debate about Morris politics, something that I would rather keep out of. I'm afraid I'd rather participate than discuss the theory.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Joseph P
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 11:24 AM

"then shift around because one doesn't know how to do the dance from that spot..."

That really annoys me. It often happens in my team, with people liking certain positions in the set. Not learning them all is just lazy, its not difficult!

How can you put dances into written form? Thats just crazy.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 11:42 AM

Neovo,

"Try getting hold of Pru Boswell's books on morris in the lancashire plain."

Thanks, I have it and a number of others.

Howard and the Fluffies:

"I'm not sure how it came to be called "morris" but the name is of long standing."
It was passed on via mothers, grandmothers and so on. It has changed almost out of all recognition but it evolved from Morris Dancing and they have every right to call it what they like - although quite a lot don't.

Simon:

"Les said "whether we see this activity as the preservation of an ancient tradition or simply a piece of street theatre"

I don't think I did.

Mike,

whilst I agree with much of what you have said

"Well, can we really be certain there is no connection? We have only fragmentary records of the dances our ancestors used to perform. Some have been preserved more or less intact, but there is good evidence for the existence of others whose details went unrecorded, and it seems reasonable to infer that many more have been entirely forgotten."

This is what people say when they want to believe something for which they have no evidence.

If you want to make up dances I think you have to embrace the Fluffies because they are part of a tradition that is at least as reputable as most "revival" sides of men.

Is Simon Care off organising a Fluffy Festival?

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 11:47 AM

Enter Maurice!


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Marje
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 01:26 PM

"How can you put dances in a written form? That's crazy!" (Joseph P)

You can do it by all sorts of methods. The method used in Bacon's Black Book is a sort of code that makes the dances read like a bit a knitting pattern - of course it doesn't convey the entire effect, but then neither does the text of a knitting pattern indicate the flow and feel of the finished garment.

What's wrong with using some sort of notation or code to note down the main points of the dance? For instance, how many dancers? How many bars after the music starts before the first step? Left or right foot to start? Which way to face? Single or double steps, and how many of them? Which way to turn? At what point do the "slows" come in? etc etc. All this will not give you the full effect of the dance but at least it's a foundation on which dancers and their teachers can begin to learn and recall new dances.

Of course, if morris, or any dance form from ballet to breakdance, was completely extinct and a future generation attempted to revive it, books wouldn't help them even to come close, they'd need (ideally) archive film/video footage to begin to get a feel for it. But that's not the case, people do know how morris looks and feels - the notation is just a way of remembering, recording and sharing the basic patterns on which the dances are built.


Marje


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 01:33 PM

I believe that there is a written form of notation for ballet.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Marje
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 01:49 PM

Yes, Richard, I once asked a ballet dancer about this and she said there's a sort of choreographic notation that combines the musical staff with the outline of a human figure, showing the movements in relation to the tune. Or something.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: romany man
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 04:41 PM

sounds like trying to learn the bloody melodeon, im sure its the devils invention but i love it only wish i could play the bloody thing better.
i cant read music let alone ballet notation, the other half understands it she says there are many forms of choriagraphic notation for many styles of dance, so i suppose morris could be writeten up. then why, its more fun seeing other peoples interpretation of the same dance,


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 03:10 AM

Hi Les,

Earlier on, I said:

"We have only fragmentary records of the dances our ancestors used to perform. Some have been preserved more or less intact, but there is good evidence for the existence of others whose details went unrecorded, and it seems reasonable to infer that many more have been entirely forgotten."

And you replied: "This is what people say when they want to believe something for which they have no evidence."

Well yes … sometimes … but in this case, I think not.

See for example, Russell Wortley & Michael Dawney, "George Butterworth's Diary of Morris Dance Hunting", Folk Music Journal, Volume 3 Number 3 (1977). GB's diary reveals his frustration at visiting quite a few villages where there had certainly been a thriving Morris side twenty years ago, but finding that no survivors of the team remained to give him details of the dances. (Though in a number of cases, he did get some tunes.) Sharp also collected a considerable number of tunes for dances which had been forgotten – some of them can be heard on the CD "Lost Morris" (Lark Rise Music, LACR8).

So, it seems clear that a lot of material was lost. How much was lost, and whether what survived was typical or exceptional, we cannot know for sure. But it would be rash to assume that what we have tells the whole story.   

Under these circumstances, I think we should be very grateful to people who have attempt to reconstruct lost dances from the remaining fragments (for example, John Kirkpatrick and the Shropshire Bedlams). And I don't think we should be sniffy about the teams who have created new dances in what they sincerely believe to be the spirit of the tradition (like Ouse Washes Molly, and many others).   

If these dances feel good, then dancers will keep on doing them. And if they look good, then punters will keep on enjoying them. If not, then they will soon fade away. Natural selection and all that - happy 200th birthday Charles Darwin!

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 04:48 AM

I don't think we should be sniffy about the teams who have created new dances in what they sincerely believe to be the spirit of the tradition

I think that's the nub of the crux of the biscuit. I'm not going to go so far as to say that we should be sniffy about teams who have created new dances, etc. Apart from anything else, I personally have never danced a step, & have no right to get sniffy about anyone in this context.

But I do think that anyone who's involved in continuing actual traditions does have a right to get sniffy about people who make up things and call them traditional, or in-the-tradition, or in-what-the-tradition-would-be-if-it-had-survived-probably.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 04:56 AM

I too have no right to get sniffy about newly choreographed v traditional dance, and I'm not. However, take a side such as Morris Offspring (for whom I do not speak but have watched many times). They make up lots of dances, based loosely on traditional steps and moves but they don't pass them off as traditional. I believe (and one of them can come along and correct me if I'm wrong) that they regard what they do as a "continuing tradition". It's Cotswold, usually sans bells, and sometimes with T-shirts instead of whites. And it's very, very good.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: LesB
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 05:04 AM

In the Southport Swords we do 11 Sword dances of which 4 we have created ourselves. We don't pass them off as traditional. In fact we are proud of our dances & like to take full credit for creating them.
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 05:04 AM

Mike I think, again, that I agree with almost everything you say but if the justification for any revival side anywhere is that "well Morris was danced in some places so it was probably danced in lots and lots of places" is not a very convincing argument.

You said earlier "On the contrary, the surviving evidence strongly suggests that Morris dancing was imported into England sometime before 1450, probably as a metropolitan novelty."

I read this or something like it in 'The Stations of the Sun' and I think the idea that Morris escaped into the countryside and has been kept alive by small groups of people amazing and on those grounds alone worth continuing even if it was boring - which I think it almost never is. But I still come back to my personal definition of "old and strange". Some sides and some events are and many revival sides are not.

Cheers

Les
PS I am sorry I have not responded to a number of people above who have made many excellent points about why women's and mixed sides seem to be doing well - I am sure they are basically right.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 08:00 AM

Morris has always evolved and reinvented itself - which is why there are so many local variants even within for example the Cotswold region. The 19th Century sides enthusiastically adopted tunes from both music hall and Minstrel shows - the pop songs of the day. They also adopted modern instruments such as melodeon and concertina, just as earlier morris musicians had adopted the fiddle instead of the pipe and tabor.

It is wrong to assume that the dances collected by Sharp and the others are the definitive versions. They are simply versions from a particular moment in time, in places where there was still an ongoing tradition, and where a collector happened to come along. Quite apart from historical records of morris in other areas, it does not seem fanciful to me to believe that morris had existed in other parts of the country, but died out before the collectors could record the dances.


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 08:16 AM

Fair enough Howard, I don't think most people would disagree with most of that but Rapper and Longsword are more than a bit North and North East, Northwest is pretty well Northwest and I guess Border is Border.

I will simply say again if people want to create Rapper sides in say Cornwall they can but it won't be local, it isn't a revival and it wont be "old and strange". I guess Cornwall has enough "old and strange" without using stuff from other parts of the country.

Their is often a line taken by dancers that they know something special because they dance and that academics are closed minded pedantists. In fact their very very few academics and thousands of dancers who say anything they like with almost no evidence whatsoever.

I note that no one is interested in the relationship between Men who Dance the Morris and the Fluffies of Carnival Morris. Plenty of history and evidence their!

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: Morris joins the Dodo?
From: steve_harris
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM

What about dances that have no direct "connection" to the places where they are now performed? Well, can we really be certain there is no connection?

Dance is the most travelled and infectious of the folk arts. It is unimpeded by language barriers. In reality, it is a mongrel. Most discussions about origins of a dance are fruitless. Is it not better to dance a Polska than try to trace it's origins?


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