MORRIS DANCING

Morris Dancing – Like Devils Incarnateambience: Morris DancingEvery summer in Thaxted, England, Morris Dancers from throughout the United Kingdom gather to celebrate the change of seasons. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Ask a number of Morris Dancers about the origins of their craft, and you’d probably get a number of different answers. Much of its history is obscure.It’s been suggested that Morris dancing came from ancient Druid ceremonies, but some scholars say that it began during in the 15th century, in the villages of the English countryside. On cold mornings, mill workers sometimes danced for warmth as they waited for their work to begin. Those informal gatherings could have been the beginnings of Morris Dancing.Most Morris groups have six dancers, plus a musician or two. The groups wear brightly colored costumes, often adorned with ribbons and bells. They dance vigorously, and wave sticks, handkerchiefs, or swords called rappers and blunts. Historically, not everyone was impressed by Morris dancing; here’s a commentary from the 16th century:They tie about either leg twenty or forty bells, with rich handkerchiefs in their hands. Then march this heathen company towards the Churchyard, their pipers piping, their drummers thundering, their stumps dancing, their bells jangling, their handkerchiefs swinging about their heads like madmen. And in this way they go to Church dancing like devils incarnate, with such a confused noise, that no man can hear his own voice.Well despite that review, Morris dancing has survived over the years, and you can still see it performed in Thaxted, England, and in folklore and dance groups around the world. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

MORRIS DANCING

While it’s history is a mystery, the English tradition of Morris Dancing has managed to survive for centuries.
Air Date:07/10/1997
Scientist:
Transcript:

Morris Dancing - Like Devils Incarnateambience: Morris DancingEvery summer in Thaxted, England, Morris Dancers from throughout the United Kingdom gather to celebrate the change of seasons. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Ask a number of Morris Dancers about the origins of their craft, and you'd probably get a number of different answers. Much of its history is obscure.It's been suggested that Morris dancing came from ancient Druid ceremonies, but some scholars say that it began during in the 15th century, in the villages of the English countryside. On cold mornings, mill workers sometimes danced for warmth as they waited for their work to begin. Those informal gatherings could have been the beginnings of Morris Dancing.Most Morris groups have six dancers, plus a musician or two. The groups wear brightly colored costumes, often adorned with ribbons and bells. They dance vigorously, and wave sticks, handkerchiefs, or swords called rappers and blunts. Historically, not everyone was impressed by Morris dancing; here's a commentary from the 16th century:They tie about either leg twenty or forty bells, with rich handkerchiefs in their hands. Then march this heathen company towards the Churchyard, their pipers piping, their drummers thundering, their stumps dancing, their bells jangling, their handkerchiefs swinging about their heads like madmen. And in this way they go to Church dancing like devils incarnate, with such a confused noise, that no man can hear his own voice.Well despite that review, Morris dancing has survived over the years, and you can still see it performed in Thaxted, England, and in folklore and dance groups around the world. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.