Interesting the way morris dances get passed on.
I'm currently looking through a book of Border Morris dances written by John Kirkpatrick
in order to find a new four-man dance for Anonymous Morris. As the dancers get more experienced, they're learning faster. There's only one dance that they don't all know from the current repertoire -and that's partly because it's a really draining one to do (though it looks really good when performed)
I found a possible dance 'Four Lane End' and started to work through the notation. It can be a bit irritating because a lot of the time it will say 'this figure is the same as the one in 'Half a Farthing Candle', so you have to flip through the pages and read it there - and sometimes, it would have taken very little extra space to write the full text. You also have to keep flipping to the glossary and half the terms are defined at the back of the book and half at the front...
I initially mis-read the chorus. It's very easy to do that the way it's written down, and I notice with some amusement that every side performing the dance on You Tube has it the way I initially read it.
I also note that the point where I thought 'that won't work, you'll have to drop the arm turn' the sides on You Tube have also dropped it.
All the sides I see dancing 'Four Lane End' on You Tube are American - I couldn't see any film of Shropshire Bedlams dancing it, although the dance originated with them. I'm guessing that all the American sides learnt it from the same workshop and hence have the same variation of the chorus. (the way they dance it is the way that is used for the final extended chorus in the original version)
Annoyingly, Kirkpatrick defines a 'Border' step as taking 2 bars, and it took me quite a while to realise that in the tune he's using for this particular dance, a 'step' actually fits into one bar. Took me half an hour to work that out. I'm trying to think the music for the band at the same time as I'm working the figures for the dancers, so I was rather concerned that the music didn't seem to be fitting.
Have made all those grumbles, this looks like it could be a very useful dance for us. It's got a nice complex sticking pattern, but it breaks down into a logical sequence that shouldn't be too hard to learn. There's a stick toss on one figure. You get to stand still during the chorus, which will be handy for Cu_sith who has a bad ankle. The figures follow a pattern as well. It's basically the same thing each time, but with different patterns of stick clashing.
I like the look of the dance overall and I think we'll enjoy doing it. I'm making a start on learning the tune. (Don't yet know which version of the chorus we'll go with - the You Tube version will require an extra two bars of music, which inclines me towards the original as I like simplicity
Here's the dance - enjoy.
Or, if you want to see it a bit slower and see what a good teacher can do with children, watch this one
There's two different versions of the finish to the dance, but I can't see a version of the original. That has the dancers tossing their sticks round in a circle. It would probably look good, though be tricky to get right. The instructions say to do it to just a drum beat and then have the music come back again, but I'd be more inclined to have the dancers end it with a yell (the band instructions for the final chorus are messy enough as it is).
We'll also need to decide whether to use single step or 'Border step'. 'Border step is a modern innovation, but it is widely used for many dances. You can see it on the videos.