The 38th Tour of the American Travelling Morrice
Thu 01 Aug 13
The American Travelling Morrice is comprised of morris dancers and musicians from across the USA. Originally composed of men from Binghamton, NY and Boston, Massachusetts, it now includes dancers from across the United States, as well as a very few men from England. While many of these men perform regularly with teams in their hometowns, they come together for one week each year to form the American Travelling Morrice.
The first tour was in 1976 so the present one is the 38th and is taking place, this year, in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. It is based in Sedbergh and each day will dance at various locations in different parts of the area. The tour invariably takes place in North America. The present tour is only the second one to come this way; the first foreign tour was in 2006 in the Cotswolds.
Morris dancing is an old English country tradition, with roots in medieval street theatre. Its origins are lost in the mists of forgotten time but pictorial references date back to the 15th Century. In his day, Shakespeare cherished the morris as an ancient custom and he made allusions to it in several of his plays. The dances you will see performed, using sticks or handkerchiefs, have their origins in Cotswold villages. Many villages, such as Longborough, Bampton, Bledington, Oddington and Sherbourne, had their own tradition and, if you watch carefully, you may be able to spot the differences.
A morris “stand” is a colourful spectacle indeed. The dancers, with small bells strapped to their legs, leap through complex figures accompanied by the music of the accordion, fiddle, or the ancient pipe and tabor. Directing the proceedings with comical grace is the all-licensed Fool, whose antics amuse the onlookers and harass the dancers. Moreover, it was thought in ancient times that morris dancing brought good luck and prosperity to the community.
As part of their tour they will be stopping at the Museum and performing for around 45minutes. For more information on the tour visit www.americantravellingmorrice.org, or contact the tour organiser Cecil Laughlin on 0115 9663632 (landline), 07968444108 (mobile) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Do come to see them and enjoy a spectacular display of morris dancing!
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