Morris dance

Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Implements such as sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two people, steps are near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid one across the other on the floor. They clap their sticks, swords, or handkerchiefs together to match with the dance.

The earliest known and surviving English written mention of Morris dance is dated to 1448, and records the payment of seven shillings to Morris dancers by the Goldsmiths' Company in London.[1] Further mentions of Morris dancing occur in the late 15th century, and there are also early records such as bishops' "Visitation Articles" mentioning sword dancing, guising and other dancing activities, as well as mumming plays.

While the earliest records invariably mention "Morys" in a court setting, and a little later in the Lord Mayors' Processions in London, it had assumed the nature of a folk dance performed in the parishes by the mid 17th century.

There are around 150 Morris sides (or teams) in the United States.[2] English expatriates form a larger part of the Morris tradition in Australia, Canada, New Zealand[3] and Hong Kong. There are isolated groups in other countries, for example those in Utrecht and Helmond,[4] Netherlands; the Arctic Morris Group of Helsinki,[5] Finland and Stockholm, Sweden; as well as in Cyprus.[6]

The world of Morris is organised and supported by three organisations: Morris Ring, Morris Federation and Open Morris.

Morris Dancers, York (26579460201)
Morris dancers with handkerchiefs
Moreska Grasser06
A small statue of a "Moriskentänzer" made by Erasmus Grasser in 1480 for Old Townhall in Munich, one of a set of 16, of which only 10 remain. This dancer has an appearance which would be described at the time as "moorish", but all the other nine surviving carvings are fairer-skinned. All wear bells on their legs.

Name and origins

The name is first recorded in the mid-15th century as Morisk dance, moreys daunce, morisse daunce, i.e. "Moorish dance". The term entered English via Flemish mooriske danse. Comparable terms in other languages are German Moriskentanz (also from the 15th century), French morisques, Croatian moreška, and moresco, moresca or morisca in Italy and Spain. The modern spelling Morris-dance first appears in the 17th century.[7]

It is unclear why the dance was named, "unless in reference to fantastic dancing or costumes", i.e. the deliberately "exotic" flavour of the performance.[8] The English dance thus apparently arose as part of a wider 15th-century European fashion for supposedly "Moorish" spectacle, which also left traces in Spanish and Italian folk dance. The means and chronology of the transmission of this fashion is now difficult to trace; the Great London Chronicle records "spangled Spanish dancers" performing an energetic dance before Henry VII at Christmas of 1494, but Heron's accounts also mention "pleying of the mourice dance" four days earlier, and the attestation of the English term from the mid-15th century establishes that there was a "Moorish dance" performed in England decades prior to 1494.[9][10]

An alternative derivation from the Latin 'mos, moris' (custom and usage) has also been suggested.[11]

It has been suggested that the tradition of rural English dancers blackening their faces may be a form of disguise, or a reference either to the Moors or to miners;[12] the origins of the practice remain unclear and are a matter of ongoing debate.

History in England

Will Kemp Elizabethan Clown Jig
Illustration of William Kempe Morris dancing from London to Norwich in 1600
Morris dancers Thames at Richmond
Morris dancers and a hobby horse: detail of Thames at Richmond, with the Old Royal Palace, c. 1620

While the earliest (15th-century) references place the Morris dance in a courtly setting, it appears that the dance became part of performances for the lower classes by the later 16th century; in 1600, the Shakespearean actor William Kempe Morris danced from London to Norwich, an event chronicled in his Nine Daies Wonder (1600).

Almost nothing is known about the folk dances of England prior to the mid-17th century.[13] While it is possible to speculate on the transition of "Morris dancing" from the courtly to a rural setting, it may have acquired elements of pre-Elizabethan (medieval) folk dance, such proposals will always be based on an argument from silence as there is no direct record of what such elements would have looked like. In the Elizabethan period, there was significant cultural contact between Italy and England, and it has been suggested that much of what is now considered traditional English folk dance, and especially English country dance, is descended from Italian dances imported in the 16th century.[14]

By the mid 17th century, the working peasantry took part in Morris dances, especially at Whitsun.[15] The Puritan government of Oliver Cromwell, however, suppressed Whitsun ales and other such festivities. When the crown was restored by Charles II, the springtime festivals were restored. In particular, Whitsun Ales came to be celebrated on Whitsunday (Pentecost), as the date was close to the birthday of Charles II.

Morris dancing continued in popularity until the industrial revolution and its accompanying social changes. Four teams claim a continuous lineage of tradition within their village or town: Abingdon (their Morris team was kept going by the Hemmings family),[16] Bampton, Headington Quarry, and Chipping Campden.[17] Other villages have revived their own traditions, and hundreds of other teams across the globe have adopted (and adapted) these traditions, or have created their own styles from the basic building blocks of Morris stepping and figures.

However by the late 19th century, and in the West Country at least, Morris dancing was fast becoming more a local memory than an activity. D'Arcy Ferris (or de Ferrars), a Cheltenham based singer, music teacher and organiser of pageants, became intrigued by the tradition and sought to revive it. He first encountered Morris in Bidford and organised its revival. Over the following years he took the side to several places in the West Country, from Malvern to Bicester and from Redditch to Moreton in Marsh. By 1910, he and Cecil Sharp were in correspondence on the subject.[18]

Several English folklorists were responsible for recording and reviving the tradition in the early 20th century, often from a bare handful of surviving members of mid-19th-century village sides. Among these, the most notable are Cecil Sharp and Mary Neal.


Boxing Day 1899 is widely regarded as the starting point for the Morris revival.[19] Cecil Sharp was visiting at a friend's house in Headington, near Oxford, when the Headington Quarry Morris side arrived to perform. Sharp was intrigued by the music and collected several tunes from the side's musician, William Kimber; not until about a decade later, however, did he begin collecting the dances, spurred and at first assisted by Mary Neal, a founder of the Espérance Club (a dressmaking co-operative and club for young working women in London), and Herbert MacIlwaine, musical director of the Espérance Club. Neal was looking for dances for her girls to perform, and so the first revival performance was by young women in London.


In the first few decades of the 20th century, several men's sides were formed, and in 1934 the Morris Ring was founded by six revival sides. In the 1950s and especially the 1960s, there was an explosion of new dance teams, some of them women's or mixed sides. At the time, there was often heated debate over the propriety and even legitimacy of women dancing the Morris, even though there is evidence as far back as the 16th century that there were female Morris dancers. There are now male, female and mixed sides to be found.

Partly because women's and mixed sides were not eligible for full membership of the Morris Ring (this has now changed), two other national (and international) bodies were formed, the Morris Federation and Open Morris. All three bodies provide communication, advice, insurance, instructionals (teaching sessions) and social and dancing opportunities to their members. The three bodies co-operate on some issues, while maintaining their distinct identities.


Today, there are six predominant styles of Morris dancing, and different dances or traditions within each style named after their region of origin.

  • Cotswold Morris: dances from an area mostly in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire; an established misnomer, since the Cotswolds overlap this region only partially. Normally danced with handkerchiefs or sticks to accompany the hand movements. Dances are usually for 6 or 8 dancers, but solo and duo dances (known as single or double jigs) also occur.
  • 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.
  • Border Morris from the English-Welsh border: a simpler, looser, more vigorous style, traditionally danced with blackened faces.
  • Longsword dancing from Yorkshire, danced with long, rigid metal or wooden swords for, usually, 6 or 8 dancers.
  • Rapper from Northumberland and County Durham, danced with short flexible sprung steel swords, usually for five dancers.
  • Molly Dancing from Cambridgeshire. Traditionally danced on Plough Monday, they were Feast dances that were danced to collect money during harsh winters. One of the dancers would be dressed as a woman, hence the name. Joseph Needham identified two separate families of Molly dances, one from three villages in the Cambridge area and one from two in the Ely area.
  • Ploughstots (alternatively Vessel Cupping and Plew-ladding) from the East and North ridings of Yorkshire, also danced on Plough Monday. The dancers often held "flags", used similarly to handkerchiefs in Cotswold and Border dances to emphasise hand movements, or rattling bones, rather than wearing bells but for the same purpose.
  • A similar Plough Monday tradition exists in the East Midlands; some of these dances involve swords, usually danced over in a similar manner to baccapipes[20] jigs from Oxfordshire.

Cotswold-style Morris dancing in the grounds of Wells Cathedral, Wells, England – Exeter Morris Men

Lionel Bacon records Cotswold Morris traditions from these villages: Abingdon, Adderbury, Ascot-under-Wychwood, Badby, Bampton, Bidford, Bledington, Brackley, Bucknell, Chipping Campden, Ducklington, Eynsham, Headington Quarry, Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Ilmington, Kirtlington, Leafield, Longborough, Oddington, Sherbourne, Stanton Harcourt, Upton-upon-Severn and Wheatley.[21]

Bacon also lists the tradition from Lichfield, which is Cotswold-like despite that city's distance from the Cotswold Morris area; the authenticity of this tradition has been questioned. In 2006, a small number of dances from a previously unknown tradition was discovered by Barry Care, MBE, keeper of The Morris Ring Photographic Archive,[22] and a founding member of Moulton Morris Men (Ravensthorpe, Northamptonshire)—two of them danceable.

Other dances listed by Bacon include Border Morris dances from Brimfield, Bromsberrow Heath, Evesham, Leominster, Much Wenlock, Pershore, Upton-upon-Severn, Upton Snodsbury, White Ladies Aston, and miscellaneous non-Cotswold, non-Border dances from Steeple Claydon and Winster. There are a number of traditions which have been collected since the mid-twentieth century, though few have been widely adopted. Examples are Broadwood, Duns Tew,[23] and Ousington-under-Wash in the Cotswold style, and Upper and Lower Penn in the Border style. In fact, for many of the "collected" traditions in Bacon, only sketchy information is available about the way they were danced in the nineteenth century, and they have been reconstructed to a degree that makes them largely twentieth century inventions as well. Some traditions have been reconstructed in several strikingly disparate ways; an example would be Adderbury, danced very differently by the Adderbury Morris Men and the Adderbury Village Morris.

North West

North West Morris 20040501
Horwich Prize Medal Morris Men, a North West Morris side based near Bolton

The North West tradition is named after the North West region of England and has always featured mixed and female sides – at least as far back as the 18th century. There is a picture of Eccles Wakes (painted in the 1820s, judging by the style of dress of some of the participants and spectators) that shows both male and female dancers.

Historically, most sides danced in various styles of shoes or boots, although dancing in clogs was also very common. Modern revivalist sides have tended more towards the wearing of clogs.[24] The dances were often associated with rushcarts at the local wakes or holidays, and many teams rehearsed only for these occasions. While some teams continue to rehearse and dance for a single local festival or event (such as the Abram Morris Dancers[25]), the majority of teams now rehearse throughout the year, with the majority of performances occurring in the spring and summer. The dances themselves were often called 'maze' or 'garland dances' as they involved a very intricate set of movements in which the dancers wove in and out of each other. Some dances were performed with a wicker hoop (decorated with garlands of flowers) held above the dancer's head. Some dancers were also associated with a tradition of mumming and hold a pace egging play in their area.

North West Carnival Morris troupe dancing in Skipton, Yorkshire in 1987

The Britannia Coco-nut Dancers, named after a mill not far from Bacup, are unique in the tradition, in that they used sawn bobbins to make a noise, and perform to the accompaniment of a brass ensemble. They are one of the few North West Morris groups that still black up their faces. It is said that the dance found its way to the area through Cornishmen who migrated to work in the Rossendale quarries.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the Lancashire tradition was taken up by sides associated with mills and nonconformist chapels, usually composed of young girls. These lasted until the First World War, after which many mutated into "jazz dancers". (A Bolton troupe can be seen in a pre-war documentary by Humphrey Jennings.) The dances have evolved stylistically and the dancers’ dress has changed to include pompoms and elements from other groups, such as cheerleaders and Irish dancers. However, they refer to themselves as "Morris dancers", wear bells, and are still mainly based in the Northwest of England. This type of Morris has been around since the 1940s and is also referred to as Carnival or "fluffy Morris" dancing. They take part in many different competitions during the year and end it with a "Championship" where one dance troupe is crowned the champions. This type of Morris is also found in the north of Wales, where there are many different organizations with many different troupes. In 2008 NEMDCO (North of England Morris Dancing Carnival Organization) held a large competition at Blackpool in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. The winner of this competition was Valencia, a troupe from Liverpool.[26] During the folk revival in the 1960s, many of the old steps to dances such as "Stubbins Lane Garland" were often passed on by old people.


Molly team dancer
Morris dancers with black-painted faces, traditional along the border with Wales

The term "Border Morris" was first used by E. C. Cawte in a 1963 article[27] on the Morris dance traditions of Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Worcestershire – counties along the border with Wales. Characteristics of the tradition as practised in the 19th and early 20th centuries include: blackface (in some areas), use of either a small strip of bells (in some areas) or no bells at all (in others), costume often consisting of ordinary clothes decorated with ribbons, strips of cloth, or pieces of coloured paper; or sometimes "fancy dress", small numbers of traditional dances in the team repertoire, often only one and rarely more than two, highly variable number of dancers in the set and configurations of the set (some sides had different versions of a dance for different numbers of dancers), and an emphasis on stick dances almost to the exclusion of hankie dances.[28]

Sword dancing

Usually regarded as a type of Morris, although many of the performers themselves consider it as a traditional dance form in its own right, is the sword dance tradition, which includes both rapper sword and longsword traditions. In both styles the "swords" are not actual swords, but implements specifically made for the dance. The dancers are usually linked one to another via the swords, with one end of each held by one dancer and the other end by another. Rapper sides consist of five dancers, who are permanently linked-up during the dance. The rapper sword is a very flexible strip of spring-steel with a wooden handle at each end. The longsword is about 2'6" (0.8 metres) long, with a wooden handle at one end, a blunt tip, and no edge. Sometimes ribbons are threaded through a hole in the tip of the sword, and the dancers grab on to them during the course of the dance. Longsword sides consist usually of five to eight dancers. In both rapper and longsword there is often a supernumerary "character", who dances around, outside, and inside the set.


The English mummers play occasionally involves Morris or sword dances either incorporated as part of the play or performed at the same event. Mummers plays are often performed in the streets near Christmas to celebrate the New Year and the coming springtime. In these plays are central themes of death and rebirth.

Other traditions

Royal Liberty Morris - Border Dance
Plough Monday dance by the Royal Liberty Morris

Other forms include Molly dance from Cambridgeshire. Molly dance, which is associated with Plough Monday, is a parodic form danced in work boots and with at least one Molly man dressed as a woman. The largest Molly Dance event is the Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival, established in 1980, held at Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire in January.

There is also Stave dancing from the south-west and the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Another expression of the Morris tradition is Vessel Cupping. This was practised in the East Riding of Yorkshire until the 1920s. It was a form danced by itinerant ploughboys in sets of three or four, about the time of Candlemas.

Additionally, there is a specifically Welsh version of this terpsichorean art[29] that is distinct from the Borders Morris style. This style is called Nantgarw tradition after a small village in the Taff Valley.[30] One Nantgarw dance, Y Caseg Eira, is derived directly from notes made on traditional Welsh dances from the 1890s. These notes were made by Dr. Ceinwen Thomas in the 1950s from the childhood recollections of her mother, Catherine Margretta Thomas.[31] Others are more modern inventions made in the style of older dances.[30] Dances in the Nantgarw style include; Caseg Eira (The Snow Mare), Hela'r Sgwarnog (Hunting The Hare) and Ty Coch Caerdydd (The Red House of Cardiff).[32]


Morris dancers York 8667
Dancing to accordion music, York (June 2018)

Music was traditionally provided by either a pipe and tabor or a fiddle. These are still used today, but the most common instrument is the melodeon. Accordions and concertinas are also common, and other instruments are sometimes used. Often drums are employed.

Cotswold and sword dancers are most often accompanied by a single player, but Northwest and Border sides often have a band, usually including a drum.

For Cotswold and (to a degree) Border dances, the tunes are traditional and specific: the name of the dance is often actually the name of the tune, and dances of the same name from different traditions will have slightly different tunes. For Northwest and sword dancing there is less often a specific tune for a dance: the players may use several tunes, and will often change tunes during a dance.

For dances which have set tunes, there is often a short song set to the tune. This is sung by the musician(s) or by the whole side as an introduction to the tune before the dance. The songs are usually rural in focus (i.e. related to agricultural practices or village life) and often bawdy or vulgar. Songs for some dances vary from side to side, and some sides omit songs altogether.

Several notable albums have been released, in particular the Morris On series, which consists of Morris On, Son of Morris On, Grandson of Morris On, Great Grandson of Morris On, Morris on the Road, and Mother of all Morris.


The Royal Liberty Morris 'molly'
Pete the Royal Liberty Morris fool

Like many activities, Morris dancing has a range of words and phrases that it uses in special ways.

Many participants refer to the world of Morris dancing as a whole as the morris.

A Morris troupe is usually referred to as a side or a team. The two terms are interchangeable. Despite the terminology, Morris dancing is hardly ever competitive.

A set (which can also be referred to as a side) is a number of dancers in a particular arrangement for a dance. Most Cotswold Morris dances are danced in a rectangular set of six dancers, and most Northwest dances in a rectangular set of eight; but there are many exceptions.

A jig is a dance performed by one (or sometimes two) dancers, rather than by a set. Its music does not usually have the rhythm implied by the word "jig" in other contexts.

The titles of officers vary from side to side, but most sides have at least the following:

  • The role of the squire varies. In some sides the squire is the leader, who speaks for the side in public, usually leads or calls the dances, and often decides the programme for a performance. In other sides the squire is more an administrator, with the foreman taking the lead, and the dances called by any experienced dancer.
  • The foreman teaches and trains the dancers, and is responsible for the style and standard of the side's dancing. The foreman is often "active" with the "passive" dancers.
  • The bagman is traditionally the keeper of the bag—that is to say, the side's funds and equipment. In some sides today, the bagman acts as secretary (particularly bookings secretary) and there is often a separate treasurer.
  • On some sides a ragman manages and co-ordinates the team's kit or costume. This may include making bell-pads, ribbon bads, sashes and other accoutrements.

Many sides have one or more fools. A fool is usually extravagantly dressed, and communicates directly with the audience in speech or mime. The fool often dances around and even through a dance without appearing really to be a part of it, but it takes a talented dancer to pull off such fooling while actually adding to and not distracting from the main dance set.

Many sides also have a beast: a dancer in a costume made to look like a real or mythical animal. Beasts mainly interact with the audience, particularly children. In some groups this dancer is called the hobby.

Most Cotswold dances alternate common figures (or just figures) with a distinctive figure (or chorus). The common figures are common to all (or some) dances in the tradition; the distinctive figure distinguishes that dance from others in the same tradition. Sometimes (particularly in corner dances) the choruses are not identical, but have their own sequence specific to the tradition. Nevertheless, something about the way the chorus is danced distinguishes that dance from others. Several traditions often have essentially the same dance, where the name, tune, and distinctive figure are the same or similar, but each tradition employs its common figures and style.

In England, an ale is a private party where a number of Morris sides get together and perform dances for their own enjoyment rather than for an audience. Food is usually supplied, and sometimes this is a formal meal known as a feast or ale-feast. Occasionally, an evening ale is combined with a day or weekend of dance, where all the invited sides tour the area and perform in public. In North America the term is widely used to describe a full weekend of dancing involving public performances and sometimes workshops. In the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, the term "ale" referred to a church- or dale-sponsored event where ale or beer was sold to raise funds. Morris dancers were often employed at such events.


The continuance of Morris is as much in the hands of independent groups of enthusiasts as it is in the nationwide groupings such as The Morris Ring[33] or The Morris Federation.[34] So while for some sides there is a feeling that the music and dance recorded in the 19th century should be maintained, there are others who freely reinterpret the music and dance to suit their abilities and including modern influences. In 2008 a front page article in the Independent Magazine noted the rising influence of neopaganism within the modern Morris tradition.[35] The article featured the views of Neopagan sides Wolf's Head and Vixen Morris and Hunter's Moon Morris and contrasted them with those of the more traditional Long Man Morris Men. The Morris may have become popular in neopaganism thanks to the scholarship of James Frazer, who hypothesized that rural folk traditions were survivals of ancient pagan rituals. Though this view was fiercely criticized even by Frazer's contemporaries, it was fully embraced by Sir Edmund Chambers, one of the first to produce serious writing on English folk plays and dances, and who became a major influence on popular understanding of Morris dancing in the 20th century.[36]

Conversely, the Telegraph carried a report on 5 January 2009, predicting the demise of Morris dancing within 20 years, due to the lack of young people willing to take part.[37] This widespread story originated from a senior member of the more traditionally-minded Morris Ring, and may only reflect the situation in relation to member groups of that one organisation.

The success of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels has seen the entirely invented Dark Morris tradition being brought to life in some form by genuine Morris sides such as the Witchmen Morris and Jack Frost Morris.[38]

The advent of the Internet in the 1990s has also given Morris sides a new platform upon which to perform. Many Morris sides now have entertaining websites which seek to reflect the public persona of the individual sides as much as record their exploits and list forthcoming performances.

There are also a multitude of thriving Morris related blogs, forums and individual sides are to be found maintaining an interactive presence on major social networking sites.

Kit and clothing

Morris men
Morris dancers in Hampshire

There is great variety shown in how Morris sides dress, from the predominantly white clothing of Cotswold sides to the tattered jackets worn by Border teams. Some common items of clothing are: bellpads; baldrics; braces; rosettes; sashes; waistcoats; tatter-coats; knee-length breeches; wooden clogs; straw hats, top hats, or bowlers; neckerchiefs; armbands.


See also



  1. ^ Heaney, M. (2004). "The Earliest Reference to the Morris Dance?". Folk Music Journal. 8 (4): 513–515. JSTOR 4522721.
  2. ^ Llewellyn's 2012 Witches' Companion. Llewellyn Worldwide. 2011. p. 126.
  3. ^ "New Zealand Morris Dancing". Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  4. ^ Morrisdansgroep Helmond
  5. ^ Helsinki Morrisers
  6. ^ "index". 23 May 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  7. ^ OED, s.v. "morris dance" and "Morisk". D. Arnold, The New Oxford Companion to Music, vol. 2 (Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 1203.
  8. ^ OED,
  9. ^ Billington, Sandra (1984). A Social History of the Fool. Harvester Press. pp. 36, 37.
  10. ^ "morris dance". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ 'The Pocket Oxford Dictionary'(1913/1994) OUP, Oxford.
  12. ^ Okolosie, Lola (14 October 2014). "Cameron and the morris dancers: a sign of our nationalistic mood". The Guardian.
  13. ^ the first description of such dances was John Playford's The English Dancing Master, published in 1651.
  14. ^ M. Dougal MacFinlay & M. Sion Andreas o Wynedd, To Tame a Pretty Conceit, volume 4 of the '0'Letter of Dance (1996).
  15. ^ Llewellyn's 2012 Witches' Companion. Llewellyn Worldwide. 2011. p. 125.
  16. ^ Hemmings tradition Archived 2 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Chipping Campden Morris Men | Homepage Archived 8 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Judge, Roy (1984). "D'Arcy Ferris and the Bidford Morris". Folk Music Journal. 4 (5): 443–480. JSTOR 4522157.
  19. ^ Burgess, Paul (2002). "The Mystery of the Whistling Sewermen: How Cecil Sharp Discovered Gloucestershire Morris Dancing". Folk Music Journal. 8 (2): 178–194. JSTOR 4522669.
  20. ^ "Bacca Pipes". British Columbia Folklore Society. 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  21. ^ Bacon, Lionel 1974 A Handbook of Morris Dances. Published by The Morris Ring
  22. ^ "The Morris Tradition | The Morris Ring". Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  23. ^ "The Duns Tew Morris 'Tradition'".
  24. ^ Use of clogs
  25. ^ "Abram Morris Dancers".
  26. ^ MORRISDANCERS.NET The original home of all things Morris
  27. ^ Cawte, E. C. (1963). "The Morris Dance in Hereford, Shropshire and Worcestershire". Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. 9 (4): 197–212. JSTOR 4521671.
  28. ^ Jones, Dave (1988). The Roots of Welsh Border Morris. Morris Ring.
  29. ^ "Cardiff Morris Home Page". Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  30. ^ a b "Nantgarw". Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  31. ^ "Easter Course Address (English) | cgdwc ~ wnfds". Archived from the original on 11 July 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  32. ^ "Cardiff Morris Videos". YouTube. 28 July 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  33. ^ "The Morris Ring".
  34. ^ "The Morris Federation".
  35. ^ Moreton, Cole (11 May 2008). "Hey nonny no, no, no: Goths and pagans are reinventing Morris dancing". The Independent. London. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  36. ^ Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford University Press, 1996. pp. 218–225
  37. ^ The Daily Telegraph, 5 January 2009
  38. ^ "Picasa Web Albums – Jack Frost – May Day 2010". 30 April 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2013.


  • Forrest, John. The History of Morris Dancing, 1458–1750. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1999.

External links

'Obby 'Oss festival

The 'Obby 'Oss festival is a folk custom that takes place each May Day in Padstow, a coastal town in North Cornwall. It involves two separate processions making their way around the town, each containing an eponymous hobby horse known as the 'Obby 'Oss.

The festival starts at midnight on May Eve when townspeople gather outside the Golden Lion Inn to sing the "Night Song." By morning, the town has been dressed with greenery and flowers placed around the maypole. The excitement begins with the appearance of one of the 'Obby 'Osses. Male dancers cavort through the town dressed as one of two 'Obby 'Osses, the "Old" and the "Blue Ribbon" 'Obby 'Osses; as the name suggests, they are stylised kinds of horses. Prodded on by acolytes known as "Teasers," each wears a mask and black frame-hung cape under which they try to catch young maidens as they pass through the town. Throughout the day, the two parades, led by the "MC" in his top hat and decorated stick, followed by a band of accordions and drums, then the 'Oss and the Teaser, with a host of people, the "Mayers" - all singing the "Morning Song." – pass along the streets of the town. Finally, late in the evening, the two 'osses meet, at the maypole, before returning to their respective stables where the crowd sings of the 'Obby 'Oss death, until its resurrection the following May Eve.

During the twentieth century the existence of the festival was described by a number of folklorists who brought greater attention to it. This helped to turn the event as a popular tourist attraction and establish it as one of the most famous folk customs in Britain.

Border Morris

Border Morris is a collection of individual local dances from villages along the English side of the Wales–England border in the counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire. They are part of the Morris dance tradition.

Bradon McDonald

Bradon McDonald (born May 14, 1975 in Watertown, New York) is an American fashion designer and a modern dancer from "Mark Morris Dance Group".

Britannia Coco-nut Dancers

The Britannia Coco-nut Dancers or Nutters are a troupe of Lancastrian clog dancers who perform every Easter in Bacup, dancing 7 miles (11 km) across the town. There are eight dancers and a whipper-in, who controls the proceedings.

Ceremonial dance

Ceremonial dance is a major category or classification of dance forms or dance styles, where the purpose is ceremonial or ritualistic.

Celebration dance

Festival dance

Dance in ancient cultures

Dance in ancient Egypt

Ancient Greece

Ancient Rome

Indian classical dance

Ritual dance, Magic/Mystic/Spiritual dance

Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

Some Basque dances


Circle dance


Dances of Universal Peace

Long Sword dance

Morris dance

Rapper dance

Religious dance

Ritual dances of China

Ritual dances of India

Sema, or Whirling dervish dance



War dance

Weapon dance

Emmanuel Music

Emmanuel Music is a Boston-based collective group of singers and instrumentalists founded in 1970 by Craig Smith. It was created specifically to perform the complete cycle of over 200 sacred cantatas of J. S. Bach in the liturgical setting for which they were intended, an endeavor twice completed and a tradition which continues today. Over the years, Emmanuel Music has garnered critical and popular acclaim through its presentations of large-scale and operatic works by Bach, Handel, Schubert, and Mozart as well as its in-depth exploration of the complete vocal, piano, and chamber works of Debussy, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, and currently, Beethoven.

A unique aspect of Emmanuel performances is its selection of vocal and instrumental soloists from a corps of musicians who have long been associated with the group. Emmanuel Music has given rise to renowned musicians at the local, national, and international level; its long-standing association with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison has also yielded a wealth of creative artistry. Emmanuel Music has achieved international recognition from audiences and critics alike in its innovative collaborations with leading visionaries among the other arts, including the Mark Morris Dance Group and stage director Peter Sellars. Emmanuel Music made its European debut in 1989 in Brussels at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, and its New York City debut at Lincoln Center in 2001.

In a schedule that totals over fifty performances per year, guest conductors have included composer John Harbison, Seiji Ozawa, Christopher Hogwood, and Bach scholar Christoph Wolff. Emmanuel Music has been the subject of numerous national radio and television specials, and has completed nine recording projects featuring works of Heinrich Schütz, John Harbison, and J. S. Bach, including the critically acclaimed best seller Bach Cantatas BWV 82 & 199 featuring Lorraine Hunt Lieberson on the Nonesuch label hailed as one of the Top CDs of the Year by The New York Times, the Mozart Piano Concertos and Fantasies with pianist Russell Sherman on the Emmanuel Music label, and the latest release on the AVIE label, Lorraine at Emmanuel. A project to record the complete Motets by contemporary composer James Primosch, long-time friend of Emmanuel Music, is in the works.

Craig Smith died in 2007 and composer John Harbison was acting artistic director as the search for a successor took place. Ryan Turner was named Artistic Director in 2010, with John Harbison continuing as Principal Guest Conductor.

English folklore

English folklore is the folk tradition which has developed in England over a number of centuries. Some stories can be traced back to their roots, while the origin of others is uncertain or disputed. England abounds with folklore, in all forms, from such obvious manifestations as the traditional Robin Hood tales, the Brythonic-inspired Arthurian legend, to contemporary urban legends and facets of cryptozoology such as the Beast of Bodmin Moor.

Morris dance and related practices such as the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance preserve old English folk traditions, as do Mummers Plays. Pub names may preserve folk traditions.

Ethan Iverson

Ethan Iverson (born February 11, 1973) is a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work in the avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King.

Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Before The Bad Plus, he was musical director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a student of both Fred Hersch and Sophia Rosoff. He has worked with artists such as Billy Hart, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Mark Turner, Ben Street, Lee Konitz, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Paul Motian, Larry Grenadier, Charlie Haden and Ron Carter.He currently studies with John Bloomfield and serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.In 2017, the Bad Plus announced that Iverson would be leaving the Bad Plus and that Orrin Evans would replace him.

Golowan Festival

Golowan (sometimes also Goluan or Gol-Jowan) is the Cornish language word for the Midsummer celebrations in Cornwall, UK: widespread prior to the late 19th century and most popular in the Penwith area and in particular Penzance and Newlyn. The 2019 Golowan Festival dates are 21 June to 30 June 2019. The celebrations were centred on the lighting of bonfires and fireworks and the performance of associated rituals. The midsummer bonfire ceremonies (Tansys Golowan in Cornish) were revived at St Ives in 1929 by the Old Cornwall Society and since then spread to other societies across Cornwall, as far as Kit Hill near Callington. Since 1991 the Golowan festival in Penzance has revived many of these ancient customs and has grown to become a major arts and culture festival: its central event 'Mazey Day' now attracts tens of thousands of people to the Penzance area in late June.

Hobby horse

The term hobby horse is used, principally by folklorists, to refer to the costumed characters that feature in some traditional seasonal customs, processions and similar observances around the world. They are particularly associated with May Day celebrations, Mummers plays and the Morris dance in England.

London Pride

London Pride may refer to:

London Pride (beer), a bitter brewed by Fuller, Smith and Turner

London Pride (morris dance), a morris dance in various traditions, and the tune that it goes to (earlier than Noël Coward's)

London Pride (novel), a novel by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

London Pride (film), a 1920 British silent film

"London Pride" (song), a 1941 song written by Noël Coward during the Blitz of World War II

London Pride (sculpture), by Frank Dobson, on London's South Bank

Long Sword dance

The Long Sword dance is a hilt-and-point sword dance recorded mainly in Yorkshire, England. The dances are usually performed around Christmas time and were believed to derive from a rite performed to enable a fruitful harvest.

Mark Morris (choreographer)

Mark William Morris (born August 29, 1956) is an American dancer, choreographer and director whose work is acclaimed for its craftsmanship, ingenuity, humor, and at times eclectic musical accompaniments. Morris is popular among dance aficionados, the music world, as well as mainstream audiences.

Mark Morris Dance Center

The Mark Morris Dance Center is located in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, at 3 Lafayette Avenue, on the corner of Flatbush Avenue. It is the permanent home of the international touring modern dance company, the Mark Morris Dance Group. Open since 2001, the Center also houses rehearsal space for the dance community, outreach programs for local children and area residents, as well as a school offering dance classes to students of all ages.

In 1996, the Mark Morris Dance Group launched a $7.4 million capital campaign to build what would be its first permanent headquarters in the United States. The Company purchased a derelict building on the corner of Flatbush and Lafayette Avenues in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and broke ground in 1999. The architectural firm, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners, designed the building, which today consists of 5 stories, seven column-free studios with wood-sprung floors, spacious locker rooms with showers, a wellness center, a 140-seat performance space, and offices for the Company's administrative staff. Seven studios are available to rent at discounted rates to non-profit dance companies, and range in size from 430 square feet (40 m2) to 3,600 square feet (330 m2).

Molly dance

Molly dancing is a form of English Morris dance, traditionally done by out-of-work ploughboys in midwinter in the 19th century.

Nantgarw tradition

Nantgarw tradition is a style of Morris dancing from the South and Valleys regions of Wales, specifically associated with the small village of Nantgarw. The style encompasses both handkerchief and stick dances. The dances call for eight dancers in four pairs. There are now five dances in the Nantgarw tradition: Y Gaseg Eira (The Snow Mare), Hela'r Sgwarnog (Hunting the Hare), Ty Coch Caerdydd (Red House of Cardiff), Y Derwydd (The Druid) and Y Goron (The Crown). They are most frequently performed by Cardiff Morris. The style was first put into dance notation by Dr. Ceinwen Thomas (1911-2008) who wrote down what her mother, Catherine Margretta Thomas, could remember of the dances that had been danced locally when she was young.

Operation Morris Dance

Operation Morris Dance was an Australian military operation conducted in May 1987 in response to the first of the 1987 Fijian coups d'état.

On the morning of 14 May 1987 the Military of Fiji took control of the country in a bloodless coup d'état. In response to the coup, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) began preparations to evacuate Australian citizens from Fiji. Five Australian warships (HMA Ships Stalwart, Sydney, Parramatta, Success, and Tobruk) were deployed to patrol south-west of Fiji. 'B' Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment was added to this force on 23 May, with the soldiers being flown from Townsville to Norfolk Island and transferred by helicopter to Stalwart, Tobruk, and Success. The Australian task force remained off Fiji until 29 May, when the situation in the country had stabilised.

Rapper sword

Rapper sword (also known as short sword dance) is a variation of sword dance that emerged from the pit villages of Tyneside in North East England, where miners first performed the tradition.The dance requires five performers who co-ordinate themselves whilst using "rapper swords" made from flexible steel. Accompanied by traditional folk music, the dancers wear specially-designed shoes that allow for percussive foot movements. Mental alertness, in addition to physical agility, is required in order for dance participants to use the swords effectively without causing harm to themselves or the other performers.

Sword dance

Sword dances are recorded throughout world history. There are various traditions of solo and mock-battle (Pyrrhic) sword dances from Africa, Asia and Europe.

General types of sword dance include:

solo dancers around swords – such as the traditional Scottish sword dances. This general form also encompasses non-sword dances such as the bacca pipes jig in Cotswold morris dance,

mock-battle dances, including many stick dances from non-sword traditions, and such common continental dances as Bouffons or Mattachins as described by Thoinot Arbeau in 1588.

hilt-and-point sword dances – where the dancers are linked together by their swords in a chain. These form the basis for rapper sword and long sword forms

Folk music by era
Subgenres and fusions
Dance forms
Song forms
Regional traditions
Related articles
Church calendar


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.