I spent a very pleasant day today at the Moira Canal Festival, on the Leicestershire / Derbyshire border, quite near home for me. If you have not been, then it is well worth a look. As local events go, it is full of action with plenty of events going on throughout the day, from Civil War re-enactments, through dancing dogs, old steam rollers, and falconry, to the point of this post, Morris Dancing.
If you are unfamiliar with Morris Dancing, it is a traditional English form of dance that has been written about as far back as the fifteenth century, which is often shown as featuring men in white clothes waving handkerchiefs. There are six predominant styles of Morris, the most famous of which is probably the Cotswolds style, which features the white outfits and handkerchiefs. There are also North West, Longsword and Rapper dances, and as you will see from the pictures below, Molly – where one of the male members of the Morris is dressed as a woman, which is centred normally around Cambridgeshire, and Borders, from the English/Welsh border that often features blackened faces.
There is much rhythm and percussion in Morris Dancing, with sticks being struck, and as the Morris men & women often wear bells, it can generally be quite a noisy affair. There is plenty of music to be heard too, with a band playing traditional music to accompany the dancers. In some styles, swords are used rather than sticks, and in many, the dancing is vigourous and noisy, with plenty of shouts and noise from the dancers.
I find Morris Dancing a fascinating sight to behold, and I am pleased to see that this tradition continues through feast days and celebrations. I took my almost six month old son Xander to see it, and he was fascinated by the noise, the bells, and the percussion, and looked on with great interest. He was also quite the talking point. There were several Morris Sides there performing multiple sets, with different music and different dances each time. I could have spent all day watching, had it not been for many of the other impressive things to be seen at the festival.
I took some pictures of the various Morris activities, I hope that you like them.