Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Travelling Morrice in Newburyport, MA

Yesterday the American Travelling Morrice, a group of Morris dancers who gather for a week each summer, came to our little city of Newburyport. I heard about their tour on the Revels facebook page and was thrilled to find they were coming here.

Here's how they describe themselves on their website:

Morris dancing is an English country tradition, with roots in medieval street theatre. For hundreds of years, teams of white-clad men have capered and stepped through the intricate patterns of the dance, clashing wooden sticks and waving handkerchiefs in time to lively traditional tunes.

The American Travelling Morrice continues this tradition for a week each summer, bringing the morris dance to a new geographical region. Since 1976, the men have toured throughout New York, New England and Pennsylvania, with performances at such settings as The House of Seven Gables, Newport Folk Festival, Old Montreal, and the White House.

A morris “stand” is a colorful 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.

Today I had to take the time to make a small book celebrating the occasion using photos printed from the computer, two copies of the little brochures they handed out, and a cereal box panel.

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