There will be 35 dance groups, that’s at least 320 dancers and 100 musicians dancing from 10 til 3 at eight town centre locations. We have two broad categories of dance styles:

INTERNATIONAL & BRITISH NON-MORRIS DANCE STYLES: We have a really international theme to the dancing this year with international / none Morris dance styles including Appalachian, Bulgarian, Lebanese, Regency, 17th/18th C English folk dances and Slovak. Expect some wonderful outfits and mesmerising dances.

Jane Austen Dancers (Bath)

Lebanese Belly Dancers (BoA &Trowbridge)

Morena Slovak Dance Company (London)

Spank The Planks (Appalachian) (Bournemouth)

Steps In Time (Shaftesbury)

Zdravets Bulgarian Dancers (Southampton and Portsmouth)

Zlaten Klaas Bulgarian Dancers (Bouremouth)

MORRIS dancers of every shadowily be performing including Border, Cotswold, Jig, Longsword, NW Clog, Molly, Rapper and Stave dancers. These variations are described below.

BORDER MORRIS: Originated in Herefordshire  Worcestershire and Shropshire in the 17th century. Dancers were supplementing their income by a bit of dancing and illegal begging so they blackened their faces to hide their identity from employers and the law. There is absolutely NO connection with ‘Minstrel’ shows. Dancers generally wear black with masses of highly colourful rag ribbons (tatters) and elaborate headdresses, often featuring tall pheasant feathers. Faces are painted in variety of hues. Wild dances, raucous dancers, driving rhythms and enthusiastic crashing of sticks. Stand well back!

Armaleggan (Cumnor, Oxford)

Enigma (Stoke Sub Hamdon)

Erstwhile Morris (Feckenham)

Hook Eagle Morris (Hook)

Queens Oak (Yardley Gobion)

Styx of Stroud

Tatters & Tails (Bath)

The Tattered Court (Cheltenham)

White Horse Morris (Westbury)

Widders (Chepstow)

Winterbourn Down (Bristol)

CLOG & STEP: Started in Wales and the North of England. Clog and step dancers emphase footwork: dancers can create many different types of sound using their feet alone. Clog dancing was often performed very casually, people would dance at home, in the pubs or in the street. The upper part of the body was kept relatively motionless so it required little space.

Beetlecrushers (Gurney Slade)

“TRADITIONAL” COTSWOLD MORRIS The archetypal vision of Morris dancers originated in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire. 6-8 men, usually dressed in white shirts and trousers with coloured cross sashes and flowery hats, leaping and twirling, hankies waving, sticks crashing, bells jingling, sometimes with a hobby horse and a fool. In the “traditional” style men and women dance separately.

Bathampton Morris Men (Bathampton)

Cam Valley Morris Men (Priddy)

Holt Morris (Holt)

“MODERN” COTSWOLD MORRIS: The same Cotswold dances but sides are normally mixed, men and women. Dress standards are much more relaxed with bright multi-coloured outfits and some sides have less formal stepping.

Bell’s Angels (Holt)

Cardiff Morris

Pigsty Morris (BIshopston)

Sweyn’s Ey (Swansea)

White Horse Morris (Wylye)

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.

Knights of King Ina (Langport)

MOLLY A very distinctive, 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 illegally 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 are known for their very colourful outfits and brightly coloured face paints. 

Holly Copse (Bournemouth)

NORTH WEST CLOG The most urban style of Morris dancing from the Lancashire and Cheshire woollen mills where women operating 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. Today they dance with colourful decorated sticks and hoops which are symbolic of the mills’ bobbins and shuttles. Most clog dancing sides are female and their costumes are visually striking with broad sashes and generously flowered hats.

Belle D’Vain (Evesham)

Black Adder (Selly Oak)

Hips & Haws (Biddestone)

Mr Wilkin’s Shilling (Bath)

Old Speckled Hen (Milton Heights)

Oyster Girls (Isle of Wight)

RAPPER SWORD DANCERS: Originating in the pit villages of Tyneside, dances are performed at speed by a team of five people continuously linked by flexible ‘swords’ called rappers. For most of the dance the swords are held above the dancers heads while they weave intricate patterns at high speed, moving smoothly in and out of complex shapes including forward and backward somersaults over the swords. Timing is emphasised by the rhythmic tapping of their wooden clogs. Like Longsword, their highlight is to weave the swords into a complex star shaped knot.

Northgate Rapper (Bath)

Sweyn’s Ey (Swansea)

STAVE DANCERS: These are unusual and very rare dances which originate from the Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire Friendly Societies. Each dancer carries a two metre stave crowned with a distinctive brass emblem and decorated with ribbons. Whilst the staves are mainly carried on the shoulder, some dances require the dancers to form arches or other figures.

Somerset Morris (Bristol & Bath)