Morris dancing is an English traditional type of dancing. Its origins go back for hundreds of years to pre-Christian times. The farmers and peasants who did these dances believed that the dances helped their crops to grow.
Each village had its own dances and its own team of dancers. The dances which we do come from different villages in the south of England: Bampton, Headington, Adderbury etc.
Some of the dances are fertility dances to make things grow (usually these are the dances with handkerchiefs). The height the dancers jump to in these dances is the height that the crops will grow to this year. Some are fighting dances (usually done with sticks). The sticks are a small version of the fighting sticks (called a quarterstaff) which peasants often used to defend themselves a few hundred years ago.
The traditional costume of male dancers is all white. The bells are to frighten away the evil spirits which might stop the crops growing. The baldrick (crossed bands) was the belt from which a sword or bag was hung to be carried. Nowadays each team of Morris dancers has its own colour of baldrick and a badge at the centre to identify it. The women dancers traditionally wear an English country woman’s shirt and skirt in the team colours.
The dances are usually done by groups of six or eight dancers. Sometimes men and women dance together, other times the dancers are all women or all men (as often in the case of the fighting dances).
Music is provided by a variety of traditional instruments. The tunes that are used have existed for hundreds of years. Some of the tunes were made for Morris dances, others were taken from songs and music which were popular with the country folk.
As well as the dancers and musicians every team has a “Fool” (jester, clown) and an animal, often a horse. These are said to bring good luck to people. They also join in some of the dances.
We are the Hong Kong Morris and dance to keep the tradition alive and for fun. We welcome anyone to join us and learn the dances or the music. Everyone is welcome. It’s fun, it keeps you fit and it’s different!