Projects

Prog Morris

Telling people I’m a Morris fan is a bit like coming out as a lesbian. People laugh at Morris dancers, they find the tradition odd, out of touch and strangely sometimes offensive.
And when I asked national jig champion Owain if he would mind being photographed in the middle of a city high street he wouldn’t do it, saying he had had too many negative comments when dancing out in public in the past.
But since the revivalist movement of the sixties and seventies Morris dancing has maintained its popularity and there are now 600 sides meeting regularly around England in three main strands. The Morris Ring are the purist, men only sides. The Morris Federation lets women to take part and adhere less strictly to the ancient traditions.

Now a new type called ‘Prog Morris’ has started using electronic beats as the soundtrack to their dancing.

I spent a few months getting to know groups in the south. There are as many styles of dance and costume as there are eccentric and inventive characters developing and continuing one of the country’s oldest surviving rural traditions.
They spend the winter teaching new members old dances, developing choreography and getting their outfits ready for spring.
Then on May 1 they start dancing out, at pubs during the summer weekday evenings and folk festivals around the country at the weekends.