Morris dance is still part of folk festivals. People enjoy watching the dancers in colourful costumes. If you are not aware of this type of dancing, then you should know its history and how it evolved.
Morris dance is a popular folk custom that is recorded back to the 1890s. During those times, the dancers blacked up their faces and had bells fixed to their legs. Morris dance originated in the European courts of the 15th century. The dancers had colourful costumes with attached bells and pendant sleeves. The dance used to be of two types: solo and dance in a circle.
Morris dancing became a part of the Church festivals by the early 16th century. Morris dancing was used as a means to raise funds for the Church. Later it became part of folk festivals and May Day. Morris became popular in England. At those times, many people couldn’t afford fancy clothing, so they wore normal clothing decorated with flowers and ribbons.
Cotswold Morris is the most common style of Morris dance which originated in the South Midlands. Here sets of six or eight dancers performed together and they waved handkerchiefs, clashed sticks, and clapped hands occasionally. Each side wore a different costume.
Rapper dance or the sword dance was popular in Durham and Northumberland. This dance is performed by five people. The dance required speed and agility and so the costume was more comfortable for the purpose. In the Welsh border countries, a different type of Morris dance became popular known as bedlam Morris which was mainly performed with sticks.
During the nineteenth century, the popularity of Morris dancing declined as new forms of entertainment were available. However, in the early 20th century the dance revived. During that time, Cotswold dances and other versions of Morris dances appeared.
The Morris sides have their musicians and in the past, the musicians used pipe, tabor, and others. Now, fiddle, melodeon, accordion, and other instruments are used. The tunes of the music are drawn from different sources, particularly the villages where it is taking place. The knowledge about Morris dancing is very limited. This information will help you to learn more about Morris dancing in earlier and modern times.