watervole: (Morris naked)
 I'm totally wiped!
On Friday, we got up just after 6 in the morning and drove 2 hours to a school in Somerset where we did morris workshops all day with the children (with the help of other volunteers from Anonymous and a couple of people from other sides who pitched in to help).  The school had asked the local morris teams, but none of them were able to do it - so we ended up travelling from Poole.

After dancing and teaching all day, I got dropped off near Exeter for a weekend morris workshop.  We did several more hours dancing on Friday evening, lots more on Saturday and a fair bit on Sunday morning.

The workshop was organised by Great Western Morris and taught by Roy Dommet.  Roy is in pretty poor heath due to kidney problems and all sorts, but he knows more about Cotswold morris than half a dozen experienced dancers added together.  He gave several talks over the weekend on topics related to morris history (He actually knew William Kimber - you have to a be a real morris buff to understand why this suddenly brings home to you how old Roy is.)  One of the key points he was making was that folk dance and music collectors collect what they want to collect.  Things that don't fit their expectations or desires will be missed out.  eg.  Cecil Sharp ignored morris tunes that came from the popular music of the time as he wanted older material.

I started the weekend as a total novice as far as Cotswold morris was concerned.  It was certainly a baptism of fire as Roy raced us through different dances from different traditions and variations upon them.  Luckily, there was usually someone in the set who could talk me through the footwork.

One thing I soon realised is that many Cotswold dances exist in both stick and hankie forms.  They're essentially the same dance, you just change the hand movements and the chorus.  To most audiences, they will look totally different, so you get two dances for the price of one.

A lot of Cotswold dances seem have very similar figures - I think Cotswold - in a very over-generalised sense - has the variation in the stepping and the choruses, and North West has the variation in the figures, but has much simpler stepping.

One thing we did on Saturday, which was good fun, was an exercise in looking at an old dance and then trying to learn elements from it (without being allowed to watch it more than a few times).  The dance chosen for the exercise was an old favourite of mine - Wilson Keppel and Betty doing the sand dance.



We had half an hour or so to put together  a performance in our groups of six.  All the results were funny and some very much so.  "Rameses's Revenge" were awarded 'most authentic moves' though we didn't win overall.  It was great fun and a good change of pace from morris.

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Judith Proctor

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