The world of the Morris
The history of morris dancing
Morris’ origins are shrouded in mystery. Some say that it was brought back from the Crusades by the Knights Templar (an argument that finds favour with many morris scholars who see the prevalent use of white in costumes as evidence of a middle eastern influence). Others argue that a form of morris dancing (most likely the French ‘Maurice’) was brought over by William the Conqueror for use as a pre-battle Haka at the Battle of Hastings.
Dances used in the film
A wide variety of styles and techniques were employed during filming. From the downright traditional If You Please, through to the Dorset classic Tubs of Lard For My Old Lady – brilliantly reinterpreted for a modern audience – to the highly confrontational Leeks On Fire, there is something for every morris man or woman in this filmic journey through ancient and modern. Millsham Morris had hoped to perform their signature dance, An Apple for Teacher, but the performance had to be cancelled due to bad weather; that and the pub car park was full.
Great Morris men of yore
Derecq comes from a distinguished morris lineage. His father, the great Norris Twist was a world champion dancer who completed the legendary Threeple Hammer Damson at the age of 13 and won five Golden ClogsÔ at the Bath International Folk Festival in his lifetime. His father before him, the revered Regius the Lionheart Twist was a fearless early pioneer of modern morris dancing, frequently clashing with police and local militia over the right for a man to dance The Morris in public, a battle which he finally won in 1908.
More recently Derecq has been mentored by Tinkering Tom and Shirley Gromsey, both of whom were noted during their tragically short lives for their fearless and extreme styles, specialising in heavy gauge hankies and rapid stick work respectively.
Cracked knuckles, chipped teeth, broken fingers and splinter damage are not uncommon. At the more extreme end of the morris performance envelope hanky scars, blisters and myocardial infarction can be experienced if a suitable warm up has not been undertaken and/or Onan’s Revenge has been consumed within 12 hours of the beginning of the dance.
Please note, Morris dancing is dangerous and is not for all. Please consult your physician before any type of folk dancing is undertaken.
What’s next for Millsham Morris
Millsham Morris are pleased to be able to confirm that they are in preliminary talks with London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, about opening the London 2012 Olympic Games. Commenting, Derecq Twist said, “It was both an honour and a long overdue recognition of Morris’ place in this country’s affections that we have been asked to open the Games and show the world the hankies we are made of. Sadly, though, it will only be hankies that we will be using as our traditional oak staves have been banned on the grounds of health and safety. But it’s a start, though.”
Discussions are still continuing with the RFU, however, over their invitation to attend next years match with the All Blacks at Twickenham to perform a riposte to the Haka. Commenting on the stalled negotiations, Muff Barcock, Bagman, said, “they’re big bastards and I’ll only do it if I can actually hit them with my stick. That’s fair, ain’t it?”
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A bit of History about Morris Dancing (from Morris: A Life with Bells On website)