Sunday, February 8, 2009

All Work and No Play... as if I would let that happen.

A couple weeks ago I was shipped off to the UK on business. Knowing that I was going to be staying in the town of Chippenham, I figured I would check if there might be a local Morris side that was dancing out during my stay. A quick Google search took me to the site of the Chippenham Town Morris Men. There I found that, on the day that I would arrive, they would be dancing out at The Mermaid Inn in nearby Christian-Malford. (How lucky is that?) A few clicks and some friendly emails later and it was arranged that I would be picked up by one of their members (thanks again Richard) to not only watch, but also dance with them.

The Chippenham Town Morris Men consist of a couple of dozen very friendly and welcoming dancers and musicians. They dance in the Cotswold tradition, which is fortunate for me, since it meant that I knew some of their dances. You can see a couple of videos of them dancing outside of The Mermaid here and here. The former being "Young Collins" and the latter being "Vandals of Hammerwich". The dancer that is not 'in kit' is yours truly.

Later that week I joined them at their practice (literally around the corner from the hotel where I was staying). There I captured, on video, a stick dance that the Chippenham side had learned from a Spanish folk dancing team. The folks on our local Breathless in Berthoud Border Morris side found these videos very interesting. Hmmm, I wonder when I'll be seeing (and practicing) that dance.

One last thing: the sweater that I'm wearing in the above Vandals video was knitted by Linda, one of the Maroon Bells dancers. She recreated it from an existing sweater of mine that was starting to fall apart from age and excessive use.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wait, Wait... We're Not Dead Yet!

Rumors of the pending demise of Morris Dancing have now been covered by that esteemed public radio news show "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!". Yes folks, Peter Sagal has been duped into reporting that Morris Dancing will die out in a generation because today's youth find it embarrassing.

Now to be fair to the good folks at "Wait wait", their job is to find the ridiculous, yet news worthy items from the preceding week's news and mock them further. And a fine job they did! We laughed, we feigned indignant responses, we laughed, we forward the link to everybody on the Maroon Bells mailing list and then we laughed some more.

And why were we laughing? Well, because this rumor is far from true. Perhaps the Morris Ring just wanted to generate some press, but here along the Front Range of Colorado our Morris sides are alive and capering, including our youth "farm team" the Tommyknockers. My daughter was a "tommy" and after ferrying her from gig to gig for a year I figured that I may as well be dancing too. (Okay, there was also the allure of some mighty fine home brew.)

We just danced out at the Berkely Community Church's Epiphany Celebration - Our dancers ranged in age from 16 to 70+. Several of those dancers were new to Morris within the last couple years. Morris Dancing dieing? Ha! Who's spreading these rumors!?!