Morris Dancing Teams in Yorkshire

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What are the following or what do they have in common?  Lizzie Dripping, Yorkshire Chandelier, Gift Rapper, Slubbin Billy’s, T’Gradely Lasses, Rhubarb Tarts, Goatland Ploughstots, Betty Lupton’s Ladle Laikers , Flag Crackers of Craven, Kitchen Taps, Inclognito, Lord Conyers Morris Men and I could go on with lots more. From Rotherham, Green Ginger, Richmond and Otley there is a local Folk Dance troupe ‘or side’ near you. For a full list and contact points you could do worse than start with Yorkshire Folk Arts. Patrons are two female folk legends Norma Waterson and Kate Rusby.

The Dances

Folk dance including Maypole dancing and Clog dancing take many forms and if you want to be amazed at the variety try ‘The Day of Dance’ at Saltaire in May each year.  Below are some notes on a couple of dance routines popular in Yorkshire. Yes I said popular, it is not just a minority participation activity it draws the crowds when Ale and dancing come together at festivals.

The Long Sword Dance of Yorkshire and the rapper sword tradition was traditionally performed in the mining villages. The dance involves five people (often accompanied by two Tommy and Betty characters) connected by short two-handled flexible swords, called rappers, forming an unbroken chain. There are many variations of this dance creating different patterns with the swords. 16 colleges run folk dance courses in Yorkshire And Humberside as well as numerous private clubs.

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The Morris goes back to ancient pagan rituals which were held in the Spring to ensure fertility and virility if not desirability or ‘prodigious proliferation of crops, livestock and the local populace’. By the end of the nineteenth century morris dancing was almost extinct due to the decline of the rural communities. The fact that a few Morris traditions have survived is due to a chance encounter between Cecil J. Sharp and the Headington Quarry Morris side on Boxing day, 1899. Sharp, already a noted folk song enthusiast was inspired to create a record of many of the remaining dances from the reminiscences of the surviving dancers.

Maurice and the girls not dancing

Betty Lupton’s Ladle Laikers
Chewitt Well Mummers
Claro Sword & Morris Men
Cricket on the Hearth – Stella Zealand 01423 540709
Flag & Bone Gang
Great Yorkshire Morris Men
Highside Longsword
Hornbeam Molly
Knaresborough Mummers
Medusa – Geraldine 01423 563649
Minster Strays
Pateley Longsword
Ripon City Morris Dancers
Ripon Sword Dancers
Skelton on Ure Blue Stots
Wakeman Mummers

Clogaire at Saltaire Step clog routines from trad and not-so-trad sources.

Spiral Dancers Maypole Team

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