The Morris
     
Border Morris Dancing

The style of morris dancing known as 'border' originates mainly from four English counties - Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. The origins of the tradition are lost in the mists of time, but it is quite probable that border morris dancing predates the other styles of morris dancing given that it is arguably more simplistic in its style than the morris dances of the Cotswolds and North West of England.

Border morris dancing was at its height in the 1850's - 1860's and was always performed by men. Each village had its own style of dancing and costume, and dances were developed which were exclusive to a particular village.

 
 
Border dancers often would black their faces with burnt cork to disguise their identity if they were busking, which was tantamount to begging in the nineteenth century. The dancers were sometimes referred to as 'Not For Joers' and the dancing as 'Not For Joeing' after the popular border dance and tune 'Not For Joe'.

As the twentieth century developed, the popularity of border morris dancing faded. Its revival in the 1970's is mostly due to the influence of John Kirkpatrick and his team 'Shropshire Bedlams', providing the inspiration for modern-day border morris dancing teams throughout the world.

Hot For Joe

Hot For Joe is an Adelaide-based women's border morris team formed in 1993. The team has developed a highly styled, truly unique form of morris dancing, which essentially emphasises the importance of precise and energetic dancing while at the same time presenting a mysterious, wild and dramatic performance. In both 1995 and 1997, the group was the recipient of a South Australian Folk Federation Award, and were also nominees for a SAMIA (South Australian Music Industry Association) award in both of these years. These accolades have reflected not only the group's growing popularity, but also a renewed respect for this ancient art form.

All of the dance repertoire has been choreographed within the team and some of the tunes used are also originals. When performing in public, Hot For Joe wear a 'kit' which consists of black tunic dresses, black and white striped leggings and black 'Doc Marten' type boots. Bells are worn on the feet, and faces are painted black in a mask-like appearance, just as those of our border-dancing ancestors were.

Since its inception, Hot For Joe have attracted a strong following, and have performed at such events as the Woodford Folk Festival (Qld), the National Folk Festival (Canberra), the Maldon Folk Festival (Vic), the South Australian Folk Festival, South Australian Medieval Fair, the South Australian Tourism Awards, and the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

* Hot For Joe is an inspiring modern interpretation of an ancient dance tradition.*

 

Hedgemonkey Morris

Hedgemonkey Morris’s unique interpretation of Cotswold Morris Dance is based on the stick and hankie dances from the village of Ascot-under-Wychwood. Hedgemonkey has maintained the traditional stepping and hand movements peculiar to the Ascot style but has incorporated them into new and exciting dances using original choreography and new tunes.

While traditional Cotswold Morris consists of a set of six or eight people (usually in two lines), Hedgemonkey’s choreography features a varying number of dancers forming circular, linear and triangular patterns. As well as new contemporary dances, the team’s repertoire also includes traditional material to maintain, and indeed strengthen the link with Morris past.

 

Hedgemonkey website>>>

The performance is based on high energy, innovation and precision - and the team’s philosophy is simple: strive for a high standard of dance, respect the past and have a good time!

In comparison to traditional teams, Hedgemonkey’s kit is simple and contemporary, consisting of a white collarless shirt, black jeans, tri-coloured armbands, white shoes and that most distinctive feature of Morris Dancing - bell pads below the knees. The performance is accompanied by live music provided by accordion and drum.

Every year we encourage The Morris from all over the country (& overseas) to come and join us at the Ale, whether they be a whole side or a single dancer.

So What is Morris Dancing?

Morris dancing is English, and has been around for a long long time, though where it originated is mostly explained by the old phrase ‘Lost in the Mists of Time’.

The word “Morris” has been recorded at least as far back as 1458 and we know it was used in Shakespeare’s time, even appearing in some of his plays (well, at least the word did!), and it was considered a mysterious and ancient art even then. That word was used to describe a particular dance form, though whether it was the same as the Morris we know today is the cause of much debate.

The dancers have been regarded as the bringers of luck, ensuring sunshine, fertility and good crops ...at least that’s one theory! In return for this service to the community contributions of money are collected during the dancing, which is good for us, but there’s probably as many theories on the origin of Morris as there are dancers!

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  Designed by Kim Brown