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The feature below was first shown on my website on 18 August 2002

John Ball

Images of Wales


Street Market - Pontardawe Festival




Page 1: General scenes       Page 2: French market       Page 4: People-watching


Morris Dancers

Morris dancers 

Left: My visit to the market was interrupted by the arrival of a team of morris dancers.

The morris dance is a traditional English ceremonial dance for men, but now also danced by women. The name is derived not from the personal name Morris, but from the word Moorish (pertaining to the Moors of Spain). There are regional variants, but the best-known form, spread by the national revival of folk dance from the early 1900s, is that known as Cotswold, which was mostly performed in rural villages of the south Midlands. Six dancers, known as a team, or side, wear ribbons and rosettes, with bells attached to their lower legs. From opposing lines of three each, they execute various figures in a light but energetic jumping manner, often swinging handkerchiefs or clashing wooden sticks. Another popular form is that from the industrial north-west of England, which is, in part, distinguished by an emphasis on changes in spatial formation and a heavier style. Teams usually comprise eight or more dancers, sometimes wearing clogs and often twirling brightly coloured cotton slings or holding sticks.
From the 15th to the early 17th centuries, morris dancing was often associated with guilds, the court, and town parishes, apparently undergoing a rural resurgence in the 18th century, but suffering decline by the late 1800s in the south Midlands and rapid change in the more urban north-west. The past two decades have seen a vigorous revival in all forms of morris dancing and it is mostly seen at summer fêtes and festivals.
Sources:
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2001, published in 2000 on DVD by the Microsoft Corporation.
The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, edited by Lesley Brown, published in 1993 by Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK.


Morris dancers
Above: The morris dancers advanced to this point in Herbert Street, where they entertained the crowds with their lively performance.

Morris dancers
Above: The team included young and old performers, all of whom seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Morris dancers
Above and below: The dance continued to the sound of clashing of sticks, jingling of bells, and was accompanied by the skilled playing of an accordion and a fiddle.
Morris dancers


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