About Morris Dancing
Morris dance is an English ritual dance that dates to medieval times. Eleventh Century woodcuts depict dancers with handkerchiefs and bells resembling those used today. Morris has been danced continuously since then, evolving over time, but maintaining a thread to the past.
Many elements of Morris, especially the handkerchiefs, sticks, and bells have their mythic connotations. The hanks are said to wake the spirits of the air; the sticks, the spirits of the earth; the bells, the spirits of the ‘other world.’ These aspects combine to produce an energetic and vital dance.
The origins of Morris are obscure. Many believe that it derives from per-Christian rituals, Druidic, Anglo-Saxon, or Norse in nature. Others believe that the word Morris may be a corruption of the word Morisco, meaning Moorish, and the dances reenact the battles of the Crusades. The debate will no doubt continue.
Since Shakespeare’s day, the Morris has been danced to celebrate the change of seasons, as well as the planting and harvesting of crops. Indeed, tradition holds that the crops will grow as high as the dancers leap. Each village or district in the Cotswold region of England developed a distinctive style of steps and kit (costume). Teams of dancers gather at annual events known as Ales to leap and caper, clash sticks, wave hanks in intricate patterns, sing, and quench a well-earned thirst. It is an exciting and colorful spectacle.
It is also said that Morris Dance brings fertility, abundance, and good luck to those who watch. We welcome you to join us in this celebration of the Morris!
About More or Less Morris
More or Less Morris has been performing Morris dancing here in Richmond Virginia since 1979. We meet for practice most Sundays from 10:30 am to 12:30pm at either the Capital Alehouse in Downtown Richmond or the Richmond Waldorf School. Feel free to stop by and see us. Just be sure to contact us in advance to confirm our location.
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