Morris dancing . . . what is it?

Morris dancing . . . what is it?

Every side takes a stab at describing the Morris, or their form/style/tradition of it. Comes from each and every one of us so often being the First Contact many lucky souls have with the tradition. "You do what?"

So . . .

What is Morris dancing?*

Morris Dancing's origins are lost in the mists of time, derived from the pan-European agrarian traditions of fertility celebrations at sowing and harvest-tide.

Many of the dances come from the Cotswold hills area and the Welsh borders. Each village, in olden times, had its own style, hence you may see a Bampton dance, or Bleddington, Lichfield or Adderbury.

Shakespeare spoke of Morris dancing as an already ancient ritual, though it was still commonly practiced in his time. Other 16th century sources confirm that the dances were done by both men and women, and that they were a popular form of spectacle, a competitive sport of sorts.

The origin for the name is unknown but scholars have speculated it comes from "moorish" and means that the dance had a North African or Iberian origin.

In addition to the 6 to 8 dancers, the Morris side also consists of musicians, and possibly a fool and a Morris Beast. The fool, extravagantly dressed (sometimes a man in women's clothing) provides comic-relief and acts as commentator to the audience.

In some cases the spectators put coins into the hat as it passes. This money is used to support the team.

* Adapted from an article printed in the Chivalry Sports Renaissance Catalog Magazine