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Morris Dancing performed at the Wimborne Folk Festival 2006

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Published on Dec 8, 2006

Morris Dancing performed by the Hunters Moon Border Morris at the Wimborne Folk Festival 2006

May Day (1st May) is traditionally the start of the Morris Dancing year. The Morris Dance itself is believed to have evolved from ancient fertility rites, although the present dance is more recent. The name "Morris" may be a corruption of the word "Moorish" a reference to the way dancers black their faces and supposedly resemble Moors.

Morris dancing in Victorian England was in a general decline until a man named Cecil Sharp became interested in collecting and recording traditional folk dances and music. It is largely from his collection that today's dances and their many variants are drawn. Morris sides often choose to dance one of two styles, either Cotswold or Border. Yet vital to any Morris dance are bells, handkerchiefs and sticks; visually attractive as they are, though their true purpose is to scare away troublesome fairies and demons.

Among Morris sides there will always be lurking a curious animal figure invariably a 'Obby Oss' usually appearing on May Day, and even dragons and peculiar bull-like animals!

Discover more Dorset traditions in the book 'Dark Dorset Calendar Customs', by Robert Newland, now available at Amazon.co.uk. Visit the Dark Dorset website, http://www.darkdorset.co.uk or blog http://darkdorset.blogspot.com
and open the door to a world of fascinating folklore and legends.

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