On the one hand Derecq is a traditionalist – when we join him he is preparing to perform the ultimate Morris Dance, the mystical and legendary Threeple Hammer Damson – and yet on the other, he is pioneering an innovative and daring new freeform brand of dancing – Extreme Morris. Innovation and invention are frowned upon by the Morris Circle, the dark and sinister governing body of Morris dancing and following a series of warnings over their conduct, its chief executive, Quentin Neely, expels both Derecq and his team from the Circle thereby preventing him from completing the Threeple Hammer Damson, his life’s ambition.
Derecq recovers from this blow to form New Morris. All is going smoothly until tragedy strikes and a trusted member of the team dies. Derecq, now a beaten man, contemplates giving up Morris until he is persuaded to go to Los Angeles and dance with the flamboyant Morris men of Orange County, the OCMs. In the USA, Derecq finds artistic freedom, falls in love for the first time and then follows his heart to Iowa to start a new life with his beloved, Sonja. However, in the wasteland that is Zwingle, deprived of Morris and cider and now reduced to Line Dancing (“the Devil’s Dance”) he longs for England and home. After much thought he returns to Devon to a hero’s welcome whereupon he and his team are, following much lobbying, accepted back into the Morris Circle.
In a grand finale at the Wimborne International Folk Festival he dances once again with the men of Millsham and with Sonja at his side in Dorset, Derecq is finally content.
The Men of Millsham Morris
Derecq Maximillian Twist – Squire
Derecq is a rebel, an artist and a visionary. All at the same time. He is also an innovator, a revolutionary and a secret agent of Morris change. He dreams of a world where all folk disciplines can be incorporated into The Morris without fear of retribution and as a consequence isn’t afraid to bring other folk and dance cultures into his own dancing such as Brazilian Maurizio, France’s Maurice and the ancient Japanese martial art of Mo-ri-fu. These acts of innovation have caused friction with the Morris Circle, the governing body of Morris dancing in England, who consider him a dangerous influence.
Derecq is without doubt the finest Morris dancer of his generation and his levels of fitness and skill are akin to those of a Shaolin monk. Just with different bells. He recently turned down an offer to appear on Strictly Come Dancing.
Will Frosser – Foreman, Morris Lore Compliance Officer
Derecq’s right hand man and best friend. An ardent supporter of Derecq’s modernising technique, Will is a highly disciplined and capable dancer in his own right. He can perform a Red Rabbit Side Swipe with a back flannel hand pull faster than any other Morris man in Dorset. Arlene Phillips is known to be a fan.
Muff Barcock – Bag Man, Point Man 1, Backup Squeezebox.
The Grand Old Man of the team. Muff is fierce, loyal, nimble and large. Mostly, however, he is fierce. Some say he suffers from PTMD (Post Traumatic Morris Disorder), but he is likely to thump anyone he hears saying this. He brews a powerful cider, known locally as “Muff’s Zyder” or “Muff’s Juice”, which he says loosens his muscles and makes him dance better. His leg extensions and especially his Upton Bampton Howsyourfather need to be seen to be believed.
Plush Gurney – Point Man 2, Rhythm
A new recruit, Plush came to Morris from the world of ballroom dancing citing creative exhaustion and an intolerance of diamonte and spandex. He finds Morris a much more physically demanding discipline however and, by his own admission, has struggled as he has tried to find the limits of his own personal Morris performance envelope. However, he remains determined to work through these short term set backs and achieve peak fitness in time for the next Blackberry Wallop exhibition dance at the Diddlebean County Show.
Boothby Pagnell – Point Man 3.
A man of mystery. He once let slip that he may have been a ballet dancer in a previous life. However, as it has resulted in his hanky technique being classifed as among the top five in the country, the men of Millsham have let it pass. Further revelations about a dark past are expected.
Lydiard Sperling – Point Man 4.
Lydiard is on a cultural exchange programme and on permanent loan from a fearsome Northumberland clan of Morris Dancers, known as The Geordie Jiggers. We’d love to tell you more about him, but we can’t understand a word he says.
Jean Baptiste Poquelin – Substitute Point man, International Relations
A long distance whelk fisherman by trade, a storm at sea set in train a freak set of events that culminated in Jean Baptiste being washed up on the shore of a Dorset beach. Rescued by his future wife, Magenta, he was brought back to Millsham where, ever since, he has danced the Morris as though his life depended on it.
A penchant for innovation and experimentation lead to his appointment as Millsham’s R&D chief. Using hallucinogenic cider (from trusted suppliers in the West Country) as a neurological key to access the dancer’s hidden soul he has perfected the new crossover dance technique of Trance Morris. To date, he has danced under the influence of 167 different types of West Dorest and Devon’s best ciders including Onan’s Revenge, Trollop Face and Wookie’s Hole.
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A bit of History about Morris Dancing (from Morris: A Life with Bells On website)