Beavers Learn about Morris Dancing

hathiThe dance we learned is called Horwich, from the North-West tradition.  Most dances are named after the town they were found in by Cecil Sharp.

North West Morris: more military in style and often processional, that developed out of the mills in the North-West of England in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Morris Dancing is a very ancient form of dance: it was considered to be ‘an antiquity’ in the time of William Shakespeare. There are theories about it being derived from pre-Christian fertility rites, being based on ‘Moorish’ dances which spread up through Spain into Europe in Medieval times, being a rustic version of the dances of the Tudor court, or being attributed to the troubadours of the Middle Ages. Nobody knows for sure. However, high up in the Zouche Chapel of York Minster is an illustration of a Morris dancer/musician – dated to the late 15th century, and there are many written references to Morris Dancers going back to the 16th century eg. “For VI peyre of shones for ye Mors dauncers 4s” (1509).

Several varieties of the Morris dance exist: that which most closely resembles what is shown in early illustrations is the Whitsuntide Morris of the Cotswold villages. It is characterised by the predominantly white clothing, bells tied around the shins, and white hankies or sticks held in the hands. Generally the dances are scored for six, although a Morris jig is usually danced by either one or two, and remain within a limited patch of ground.

In the 19th century the North West gave rise to a very different concept of the Morris: processional dances – often associated with rushbearing, with Wakes Week festivities or with local (often religious) processions. No-one is certain what it was based upon – if anything. These dances were scored for a minimum of 8 dancers, and going up in multiples of 4 or 8 thereafter; they were spectacular in the numbers taking part, in the costume, in the musical accompaniment (often a full brass band) and sometimes in the vigorous ‘stepping’ in clogs

On January 31st, 2017, posted in: Beavers, News by

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