Morris Dancing

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The Morris comprises a variety of forms of traditional ritual dances from England, but The Black Jokers specialize in Cotswold Morris, as was practiced in the villages of Bledington and Brackley in the English Midlands.


Morris Dancing is one of the characteristic Folk Dances of England. Its origins are lost in the mists of time, derived from the pan-European agrarian traditions of fertility rites and celebrations at sowing and harvest-tide. Though well known during Shakespeare's time, the Industrial Revolution cut into its constituency so that by the turn of the century the Morris was practiced only by a dwindling number of Ale-drinking pensioners in, what some would call, the lesser sophisticated villages of the English Midlands.


Discovered in the nick of time by an itinerant ethno-musicologist, Morris Dancing was seen as a hither-to unstudied subject of academic research, and via publications and other means enjoyed a revival in Britain. Morris became a part of the curriculum in schools, new teams were formed, and over the decades it has spread throughout the English-speaking world.


Today, the Morris has found a home in academe, providing research opportunities and thesis topics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Teams can be found associated with many prominent institutions of higher education, among them Marlboro College, University of Indiana at Bloomington, UCal Berkeley, and even such conservative institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, and M.I.T. Students, staff and faculty alike are captivated by the potent combination of aerobic dance and fermented beverages. Ph.D., LL.D., MBA and SB join with TA and RA; engineer and mathematician dance be-side poet and architect to celebrate the changing seasons. The colorful sight of the dancers with their bells and waving hankies, along with the simple yet compelling tunes played on fiddle, pipe-n-tabor or melodeon, adds a festive note to Colloquia such as this, as well as to symposia, seminars, and lectures. Try it!


You can see and join in the old traditions at their finest at Sunrise on Mayday Morning beside the banks of the Charles River on the Cambridge side of the Weeks footbridge. For more information you can contact us as
The Black Jokers
c/o I. J. Stefanov-Wagner
Post Office Box 410476
Cambridge MA 02141-0005
or by network via Out-of-towners can write to morris-request@INDYCMS.IUPUI.EDU

Other WWW Morris Dance pages

Morris Teams on the Web, a public service maintained by Jeff Bigler of Middlesex Morris is the place to find the latest links, but here are some that I have had since the early days, when the number of Morris related WWW sites could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
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Original June 1, 1995
Last Modified: Aug 8 18:37 EDT 2003 / Ishmael the Fiddler