In the UK the traditional May Day holiday is the first Monday in May. This is a village festival that can be traced back to the ancient Roman festival of Flora (the Roman goddess of flowers). As it celebrates the start of spring and summer flowers and dancing are major themes and a proper village festival wouldn’t be complete without a performance from a Morris team. Read on for more…
So what is Morris dancing? Morris dancing has been around for many years with the first written record made in 1448. Morris dancers dance in teams and while they are typically based in the UK there are teams in other parts of Europe and around 150 teams in the USA. Teams often use a variety of instruments such as a pipe and tabor drum or an accordion. They also use props like handkerchiefs or batons and wear various costumes, which are specific to each style.
In 2009 it was reported in the British newspapers that Morris dancing would soon disappear. However, it seems that the Internet has been instrumental in keeping Morris dancing alive and has increased its popularity by using blogs, forums and social networks to help connect people and send out information about events and performances. In fact, a newspaper article in 2018 reported that this year’s May festivities and Morris dancing will be the most popular in recent times. Here’s a case of technology helping to keep a tradition alive.
One such example is the Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers. Abingdon-on-Thames is in Oxfordshire and their team forms part of the Cotswold Morris tradition. ‘Cotswold style’ is with white clothing and handkerchiefs. The Abington team have their own web page, Facebook group and are members of the Morris Ring. They can be pictured dancing with a sci-fi dalek and to a pop song called “Apparition” by the group Stealing Sheep. Now that’s really getting modern!