There are few cultural traditions as distinctive and almost universally recognisable as that of Morris dance. An exclusively folk-based tradition, Morris dancing has been around since the 15th century, originating in courtly settings but likely proliferating in the 16th century to the lower classes. The exact nature and development of English folk dance before the 1600s is still shrouded in mystery, but what can be known for certain is that it is one of the relatively few surviving folk traditions that is still practiced by thousands of people in the UK today. The tradition is so popular in fact that there are hundreds of groups that regularly meet and practice Morris dancing in a communal setting, often with social aspects and celebratory occasions where enthusiasts can speak openly to like-minded folk about folk dancing and practice different variations of their craft. While there are too many Morris dance groups in the UK to list here, there are some that are documented below which may be of interest to Morris dance fanatics across the UK.
Five Rivers Morris, Sheffield
Forming in 2008, Five Rivers Morris are a passionate Morris dance group which practice regularly in Sheffield. Each meeting is a social occasion consisting of merriment, beer, and some inspirational Morris that forms the focal point of each gathering. The group is a mixture of professional-level and amateur dancers who all come together to practice and refine their craft as well as simply to have a good time.
Ripley Morris Men, Surrey
This group have existed in one form or another since 1924 and have shared a passion for Morris dancing that has been passed down throughout the 19th century and exists to this day in the 21st. Far more than just a practice group, Ripley Morris Men can adapt to many situations and their presence can be called for at pretty much any occasion including Barn Dances, Rambles, Weddings, and Funerals.
Lady Bay Revellers Morris, Nottingham
This group were formed in 1992 and have been performing various traditions of Morris ever since including Bledington, Bampton, Fieldtown, and Oddington. The Lady Bay Revellers Morris are frequently practicing during the winter months and can be found touring with other Morris groups during the summer as well as being available for booking for a variety of events and celebrations.
Mortimer's Morris, Nottingham
Another Nottingham-based Morris group, Mortimer's Morris is side that is capable of far more than just traditional English Morris. Their performances are said to reflect the more unusual sounds of various areas around Europe whilst maintaining traditional English dance patterns. Mortimer's Morris are actually an all-female group and can be found playing at a variety of folk festivals including Warwick Folk Festival.
The Bo Diddlers
The Bo Diddlers are a Morris dancing side that are far from traditional. Made up of a variety of talented contemporary dancers and performers, this group perform some of the more unusual Morris dancing that the country has seen. Some of the members are fans of physical comedy and other forms of entertainment, and these influences can be seen in the group's unusual approach to the tradition of Morris. They have performed at Brighton Fringe Festival and are available for playing at a variety of events including other festivals, corporate events, and also private functions.
Kelly's Heroes have a wonderfully Celtic sound provided by a rich accordion performance and a guitar/bodhran instrument combination. This band is available for hire pretty much anywhere in the UK and are used to travelling even further afield should the occasion call for it. The three-piece ensemble can also be expanded to include a fiddle, whistles, and banjo for a deeper and louder sound. Their repertoire includes a variety of well-known Celtic songs as well as original numbers. They can be found touring and gigging frequently in all areas of the UK and will add some traditional Celtic flare to pretty much any occasion you can think of including parties, private functions, regular gigs, and festivals.
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