Dancers

51 dance groups, 2 samba bands and 2 mummers’ plays have confirmed attendance (that’s over 410 dancers). Another 27 dance groups have reserved spaces while they check numbers available to dance. It’s going to be a big day!

Note not all photos were taken at our event.

BORDER

From Herefordshire  Worcestershire and Shropshire and dating back to the 17th century. Blackened faces conferred anonymity on the dancers who were supplementing their income by a bit of dancing and begging. The disguise was necessary so the performers were not recognised and then prosecuted for begging, or victimised by their landlords. Dancers generally wear black with masses of highly colourful rag ribbons and elaborate headdresses, often featuring tall pheasant feathers. Wild dances, raucous dancers, driving rhythms and enthusiastic crashing of sticks. Stand well back!

CLOG / STEP

Like North West Clog these dances also originate from the Lancashire and Cheshire woollen mills but where NW Clog evolved into processional dances this variation remains more static and could be likened to very rhythmical tap-dancing in clogs.

COTSWOLD – “TRADITIONAL

This is the oldest and most traditional of all the Morris dance styles. Originating from Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire. 6-8 dancers, complex stepping and movements, hankies waving, sticks crashing, bells jingling and sometimes with a hobby horse or a fool. Traditionally these sides are men only (some have women musicians) but over the years many ladies’ only sides have also appeared. They only perform Cotswold dances and usually dress all in white with coloured cross sashes and flowery hats.

COTSWOLD – “MODERN”

These are mixed sides of men and women that also focus mainly on Cotswold dances but some include border dances as well. They generally have more colourful outfits.

“INTERNATIONAL”

We have interest from Ballet, Bulgarian, Czech, French, Hip Hop, Lebanese, Moravian, Polish and Slovak dance groups so watch the space. Already confirmed are:

  • Appalachian Clog: The Appalachian style originates from the USA and incorporates steps from various European countries brought together by settlers.
  1. BrandyWine (Gwent) Dancing at Gower Bluegrass Festival
  2. Tappalachian (St Albans) Dancing at Chippenham
  • Bollywood and Bhangra: Avtar Indian Dance Come and learn Bollywood and Bhangra dances but get here early as these are fun dances and always very popular.
  • Irish
  1. Blackrock Irish Dancers (Yeovil)
  2. Hills Irish Dance (Bath) Hills teaches both traditional and modern styles of Irish dance to the children of the Bath area. Dancing practice looks like fun!
  • Welsh: The traditional folk dance style of Wales almost died out. Believed to originate from village wakes or revels, known variously as gwyl mabsant, mabsant, taplasau haf and twmpath when work was suspended and everyone came together to socialise, dance, sing and feast. Cardiff Morris will perform rare dances collected from the Welsh village of Nantgarw near Caerphilly

JIG

A solo morris dance, typically competition or show off dances and only danced by those considered to be the best dancers in a side.

Watch this space

LONGSWORD

Miners’ dance style from Yorkshire using (blunt) wooden or metal swords. They link up in a ring and then weave around over or under the swords. A highlight is to weave the swords into a star shaped knot.

Watch this space

MAJORETTES

Majorettes originate from the carnival dancers of the Rhineland, “tanzmariechen” in German anglicised as majorettes. They are processional dances with lots of high stepping and baton twirling.

MOLLY

A high stepping style from East Anglia and the East Midlands. Dances were performed on Plough Monday by male farm-workers with one dressed as a woman and, like Border Morris, they were dancing for money to supplement their income so they concealed their identities by blacking their faces. Traditionally they wore a modified version of their Sunday best but modern dancers usually wear very colourful outfits.

Watch this space

NORTH WEST CLOG

The most urban style of Morris dancing from the Lancashire and Cheshire woollen mills where workers sitting at the weaving machines wore hard-soled clogs with iron nails on the soles and heels, which they tapped to the rhythms of the machines to keep their feet warm. They dance with colourful decorated sticks and hoops which are symbolic of the mills’ bobbins and shuttles. Many clog dancing sides are female and their costumes are visually striking with broad sashes and generously flowered hats.

REGENCY

Stately English dances and country folk dances dating from the C17 and C18th performed in period dress. Dances include the cotillion, waltz and quadrille but the main tradition is country dances where lines of couples perform figures with each other, progressing up and down the line.

RAPPER

Sword dancing from the pit villages of Tyneside. Dances are performed at great speed by a team of five people continuously linked by short flexible swords called rappers. They weave intricate patterns at high speed, often with clog steps, moving smoothly in and out of complex shapes including forward and backward somersaults over the swords. A highlight is to weave the swords into a star shaped knot.

Northgate Rapper (Bath) Dancing at Bath Festival

STAVE

A folk dance style from Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire believed to originate from the nineteenth century ‘club walks’ of the friendly societies. Dancers carry long decorated poles, known as staves, over their shoulders whilst performing. There are only a handful of these dancers in the uKL so we are extremely pleased to have bagged:

Somerset Morris (Bristol & Bath) Dancing at Chippenham