There are two predominant forms of Sword Dance: Rapper, the more common short sword dance; and Long Sword, the less common dance performed with, er... long swords. Rapper tends to be a tighter set, with short stepping and highly intricate manoeuvres. Long Sword uses a more languid gate, often covering quite a large area, with dancers leaping or stepping over swords as part of figures. Both are done to reels, usually with a single musician, seldom to a large band.
NEXT UP! Tuesday 1 May 2018
May Day 'Greet the Dawn'
5.00am, Cassiobury Park, where the paths meet at the river.
At the end of a dance, and often within the dance as well, the set will lock their swords in a star pattern, which will be held aloft for audience approval, and when all is done, this locked star will often be thrown to the ground by way of a full stop.
Rapper is possibly the most vibrant and active arm of tradtional dance, not liking to be referred to as Morris, with the annual Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT) competition regularly attracting virtually the whole community! New teams seem to spring up all the time, with the competetive nature of DERT feeding a desire for high standards that other forms of dance find it difficult to sustain. Not neccessarily true for every team, but certainly for the majority.
There are a number of other forms of Morris dance, some of them not too keen on the link being made, despite their obvious relationship to the higher profile styles. The Brittania Coconut Dancers of Bacup have their own very distinct and unique style, with its own tales of origin, and traditions in performance - well worth catching. Then there is the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance and it's Thaxted homage, and the Hobby Horse traditions at Minehead and Padstow, which vary greatly from mainstream Morris. You then start crossing over into other local traditions such as Bonfire and Carnival that, whilst making no link to the Morris, do represent a common wish to maintain celebratory dance or spectacles evolved over centuries and owned by the people who participate in them.
WOODSIDE MORRIS MEN
Squire: Dave Pearse
Foreman: Dave Lang
Bagman: Nick Wilson
Lead Musician: Pete Flanagan
WHY NOT GIVE IT A TRY?
During Winter, we meet at 8.00pm on Wednesday nights in the Pump House's Colne River Rooms, Watford. You would be most welcome to come along.