Filming Wyld! A May Day Celebration for Wyld Morris’ 10th Anniversary

Brian Kelly updates us on the 10th Anniversary of Wyld Morris based in Dorset:

Wyld Morris‘ first public performance took place in Bridport on 1st May 2011.  So the 1st May 2021 had been planned for some time as a celebration of our 10th anniversary, with a day of dance with other local sides envisaged for later on in the season.

“Covid-19 meant we had to rethink our plans! However a year or so ago Rob Jayne, a local filmmaker, agreed to make a documentary about our side and the 10 year anniversary year, focussing on participation with a number of new recruits to the side.  The focus of the documentary has clearly changed to a more long term project, and will cover how we coped during lockdown (Rob took part in a number of our Zoom meetings) and the future celebrations of our anniversary.

“Rob had also been asked to make a Virtual Mayfest 2021 film for the Bridport Community Orchard – and Wyld Morris, who had had very close links with the Bridport Community Orchard for many years – were delighted to take part in the video. 

Wyld Morris 2021We performed four dances (socially-distanced versions of Webley Jig, Beau of London City and Journeyman,  which featured four dancers) together with a Nutting Girl double jig. We had one musician, with Rob Jayne who was filming making up the sixth person permitted by the film-making Covid guidelines (as can be seen in the video, we did not have an audience).   The dancers also wore new items in our kit, which had been made during lockdown – the waistcoats and the brightly coloured handkerchiefs.

“The rest of the team watched the video when it was published in time for the May Day celebrations – and are looking forward to dancing out as a group later on in the season.

See more about Wyld Morris: they have been publishing a weekly YouTube show since Jan 2021 and have launched a Twitter channel (@WyldMorris) to complement their Facebook page. See: Wyld Morris website.

Morris on May Day on Guernsey

Belles and Broomsticks Morris in Guernsey danced out on May Day, not having to adhere to any local restrictions, and sent us this message to teams in the UK:

“It’s good to see that so many sides have been able to do something to celebrate May Day.  It must be so frustrating for you all not being able to get together.  Here we continue to be Covid-free so no social-distancing, just carrying on as ‘old’ normal.

“We’ve had a busy weekend.  Friday, we had our local ITV News team filming us for our dress rehearsal for May Day celebrations.  We selected one of our favourite locations (Liberation Monument) where we were able to also entertain workers going to and from our main town car park.

Belles and Broomsticks 2021“Saturday, we were up at dawn to greet the sun as it rose.  Our venue was one of our piers at the harbour, which is on the eastern side of the island.  Well away from anyone having a Saturday lie-in and of course no visiting yachtsmen this year.  We had a small appreciative audience and got through nine dances.  Unfortunately, there was a little cloud over the islands of Herm and Sark that obscured us witnessing a clear sunrise. But hey ho, you can’t have everything.

“Today was the summer opening of one of our castles, and we were invited to join in the opening celebrations.  There was a good size audience for us and the historical re-enactors.

“Tomorrow, although a Bank Holiday, we will be having our usual weekly practice as next weekend is our Liberation Day when we will be celebrating 76 years of freedom.  Sadly, this year, neither the Jersey Lilies nor Helier Morris Men, nor for that matter any sides from the UK will be able to join us to mark the occasion.  Roll on next year and hopefully better times.

“Here is a photo of the team from Saturday.  We were five short of our full complement, so a good turn-out.

“We look forward to a better year for all and being able to mix and dance freely with other teams.

The Adderbury Morris Men talk about their history

Adderbury Morris

Review of the online talk given by Adderbury Morris Men in Oxfordshire, on 25th April 2021.

Review by Mike Heaney

“Over eighty participants joined this talk on 25th April, including from as far afield as the Netherlands, Estonia, the USA, and Canada. No fewer than seven members of the team contributed to different parts of the presentation, ranging from history to musical and dancing style, interspersed with entertaining videos from across the years, all brought together by current bagman Keith Norton.

“We started with a recently rediscovered video from the team’s first day of dance 46 years ago, followed by an introduction to the history of morris dancing in Adderbury from Stephen Wass. There was dancing there from at least the late 18th century, and records from nearby places suggest a strong local morris dancing culture from at least the beginning of the century. A good part of the early history concentrated on Adderbury’s famous fool from the early 19th century, Old Mettle.

“Tim Radford took over with an account of the earlier revivals – possibly dancing Headington from Cecil Sharp’s books – in 1908 and 1913. Local resident Janet Blunt met an old Adderbury dancer, William Walton, and collected dances from him. Later on Sharp also met William Walton – in some cases the descriptions by Blunt and Sharp differ.

“Moving on to the 1975 revival, Tim revealed that it began when he got tired of travelling from Adderbury DOD 1975 rehearsalBanbury to Oxford to dance with Oxford City Morris Men and in 1974 he decided to form a side in Banbury. After a few weeks of a team practising in Banbury, an Adderbury native, Bryan Sheppard, joined and Tim needed no persuasion to move practices to Adderbury and to dance solely the Adderbury dances. Enthusiasm and practices were intense – two practices a week from November through to the first dance out on 26 April 1975 and a successful season.

“At the AGM at the end of 1975 Bryan Sheppard proposed some changes and when the proposals were voted down, he and some other members left to form their own side, Adderbury Village Morris Men. In 2010 a women’s side, wittily named Sharp and Blunt, also came together to dance the village dances. All three teams now co-exist amicably.

“Fiddler Chris Leslie, taborer Dave Moore, and Stephen and Verna Wass on melodeon and fiddle, all provided their insights into playing for the Adderbury dancers, complete with demonstrations, including Chris dancing to his own fiddling (inspired by Bampton’s Matt Green) Adderbury 2018

“Current squire David Gunby rounded off with an account of some of the team’s more memorable foreign excursions, including Estonia, the USA, Germany and India (where they were escorted by an armed motorcade!).

“In the questions that followed the team were asked what they thought about other teams dancing and adapting the Adderbury dances. Tim Radford said he wanted everybody to dance it; David Gunby put a final gloss on it in saying that the morris dances are “Adderbury’s gift to the world”.

“Thanks to all the members of the team who contributed to an enjoyable and informative presentation.

Review by Mike Heaney of Eynsham Morris, Oxfordshire

Donations from the participants raised money for charities: The Teenage Cancer Trust and Katharine House Hospice in Adderbury.

Workshop to learn two jigs in the Imington style

Here is a review of our fourth Cotswold Morris workshop held on 28th March 2021, for over 60 participants from the UK, Netherlands, and Sweden to learn two jigs – ‘Nelson’s Praise’ and ‘Jockie to the Fair’ in the style of Ilmington.

Ab van Barneveld who zoomed in from the Netherlands writes:

Andrew Knight dancing Ilmington styleI attended this workshop with much pleasure.  Our hosts were dancers Andrew (Drew) Knight and Lin Steel, and musician Tony Warren on mandolin from the Knights of King Ina jig team in Somerset.

“Paul Bryan from The Traditional Ilmington Morris Men in Warwickshire participated sometimes by answering questions for instance about the Ilmington style.

“When I started Morris dancing in 1996, I first learnt some Ilmington dances because Utrecht Morris ran workshops for several weeks in the Ilmington style tradition. Since then, I have a special relationship with Ilmington. Every time we dance it, it is as if I meet an old acquaintance.

“Before the Lockdowns I was not very busy with jigs. We always practiced one jig at the end of our rehearsal evenings. During a performance one of our younger dancers would do a jig so that the older ones like myself could rest and breathe.

“Thanks to the Morris Federation/KOKI workshops I now feel much more capable to jig in public when that will be possible again.

“Our team has been dancing using Zoom almost since the beginning of the pandemic. Although it is nice to see each other and hear the familiar tunes, I noticed that my dancing got sloppy.  I mostly dance in position six at the back of the set. I found out that I had become more dependant of the examples of the men in front of me than I was aware of. And in our kitchen, there were no other dancers. (And the music went slower then the other men on the display danced).

“The precise explanations and the thorough demonstrations of Andrew and Lin were, and are, helpful for me to stay in shape, in form. And I experienced the workshop(s) as uplifting.

“On one hand Andrew’s historical research and his search for <long legs> provide a reliable and firm ground. On the other hand, Andrew gives in a relaxed, light-footed way, all the space for an individual approach.

“In his own words: <Jigging is yours … it is your dance and your expression of the dance. A jig is not a finished project. Do not nail it, but learn.  Fill it with your performance>. That encourages me!

“I love the poetic expressions like: <the slows are slightly fast and the fasts are slightly slow> or …<the timing is based around lots of bouncy heights and flight time>.  And I can follow that if I find that the main stepping is too slow, or that I don’t jump high enough.  And also that if I go too fast I will lose the expression of the steps and the features of the Ilmington style.

“I also want to mention that from the workshop I got a greater insight in technical details of the Ilmington style. For instance I learnt to turn my hand-palms out/forward. And also that it is useful not to focus on the <flick> or <snatch>.

“At first, I did not understand the counting in the slows of the 16 bars. It was very useful to be able to watch the workshop again on YouTube. Now I know that you count in 3 and that 5 times. That means that there is one bar of the 16 left. So now I can follow that at the second slow there is an extra handclap.

“I now realise that a good relationship with your musician is essential. <Buy a pie and beer for him or her!>

“And I realise once more the necessity of warming-up and warming-down. Andrew is an osteopath and makes it very clear how important that is.

“In summary … I enjoyed the workshop! I am very grateful for the inspiring way Drew, Lin and Tony gave it!

by Ab van Barneveld is a member of Utrecht Morris Team (UMT) in the Netherlands

Donations from workshop participants raised money for Yeovil Freewheelers Blood Bikes:

You can see the video of the Ilmington style jigs workshop on the MF YouTube channel.

Workshop to learn Bledington, ‘Lumps of Plum Pudding’ Jig

KOKI 20210228 Bledington Andrew KnightHere is a review of our third Cotswold Morris workshop held on 28th February 2021, for over 80 participants from the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and the USA to learn the ‘Lumps of Plum Pudding’ jig in the style of Bledington.  The workshop was kindly run by dancers Andrew Knight and Lin Steel with musician Tony Warren, all from the Knights of King Ina jig team in Somerset.  You can see the video of the Bledington ‘Lumps of Plum Pudding’ jig workshop on the MF YouTube channel.

Nic Yannacopoulos writes:

I am very pleased to have attended this opportunity to get expert instruction from Drew Knight and his team of helpers.

“The session included short breaks for hydration and relaxation.  It allowed the use of multiple cameras for participants to watch both instructors and themselves from various angles. This reduced the need for frequent clarifications and allowed more time for mass practice.

“It helped me correct mistakes acquired from watching dancers who focused more on physical prowess than elegance and attention to tradition. Some of the salient features fo Bledington, such as the high arm movements on the vertical plane and the disciplined shuffle-back were meticulously explained and practised.

Lin Steel - Bledington“Attending many workshops helps attendees assimilate the personal style of the instruction team which adds value to an otherwise sterile adherence to tradition as described in a book.

“One challenge that I have yet to overcome is the slow speed of the music. It may fit taller, younger and fitter dancers but some of the participants couldn’t cope.

“Full marks to the team.

by Nic Yannacopoulos, a member of Hurst Morris People (HuMP), Kennet Morris Men, and Redding Moreys

Donations from workshop participants raised money for Yeovil Freewheelers Blood Bikes:

You can see the video of the Bledington ‘Lumps of Plum Pudding’ jig workshop on the MF YouTube channel.

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