The Dark Morris

Discussion in 'THE DEATH BOOKS' started by Rewr, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. Rewr New Member

    Just wondering, I can recall reading that a group of morris dancers performed the Dark Morris for Pterry, does anyone know if the dance was recorded? Is it available on youtube or something?

    Tis something I would like to see, as I did a turn at morris dancing when I was younger (a lot younger). :D
  2. redneck New Member

    I think I saw PTerry in this one. It's around the 2:18-2:20 segment. Not a very clear picture, but I think it is him.
  3. Rewr New Member

  4. Katcal I Aten't French !

    It sir does look like him! :D
  5. Joculator The 'Old' Fool

    It certainly is Terry, but the dance is not Morris. It's called Rapper. Big difference. Only five men dance rapper and they use short "swords" made of flexible steel to create various shapes during the dance. Morris can have anything from 2 men upwards but always in multiples of two.

    Somewhere on video, I have the Lancre Morris Men performing our own choreography of the Dark Morris. Black outfits, black bells with the little tinkly bits removed for "silent running" and black handkerchiefs. If I can find someone who still has a video grabber card in their PC I will convert it to Mpeg and post it on my site. It's quite an eerie sight as it is performed, as Terry describes it, in complete silence and very late at night.

    As far as I'm aware only a few Morris sides, who are dedicated Pratchett fans, have created their own versions of the dance and they have used steps from traditional dances.
    You can sometimes see various "novelty" types of the Stick and Bucket dance being performed during the summer months at some gatherings.

    All in all, its great fun at anytime and everyone should give it a try sometime.

    I think one of the biggest problems with Morris sides being unable to recruit members is that many of the older, long established sides still hold to the tradition that the dances are performed only by men. Fortunately many younger sides are now dragging these diehards, by their baldrics, out of the Century of the Chauvinistic Pig" to more enlightened times.

    I have occasionally been accused of trying to 'alter tradition' by including dances of both sexes in the side. However our view is that we can't change history, we can only add to it.

    The Dance must go on!
  6. psychicdeath New Member

    This is one of those areas where we American readers are at a disadvantage. I assume there are some enthusiasts here in the States somewhere, but for the most part we don't know what a morris dance is. After seeing it mentioned in Reaper Man, I had to look it up because I had never even heard the term before.
  7. Rewr New Member

    Oh I'll keep my fingers crossed :smile:

    Very true - my wee stint at Morris dancing was just for a school term, I had recently moved to a new school and the teacher decided to teach the class how to morris dance. Six months earlier I was dancing the Highland Fling amongst others!:wink:
  8. Katcal I Aten't French !

    Someone on the radio was talking about that article and suggested that to survive, Morris dancing should be adapted to modern tunes, perhaps made popular by a novelty morris song released by one of those old X-factor kids... I think there's something to be said for that idea.
  9. Joculator The 'Old' Fool

    A great quote, Kat. I love these 'pet' experts that appear on TV and radio with their mundane statements to solve all the world's problems.

    Try choreographing a Viennese Waltz to the march tune Colonel Bogey and it simply doesn't work. :D You either finish up with a Viennese March or the Colonel Bogey Waltz, neither of which is he same as the original.

    I, for one, appreciate your support on that idea. Especially if it is approached from the opposite direction. It is a lot easier to adapt popular tunes to Morris dance steps. That is how the dance tradition has survived for the past 500 years.
    A friend of mine who dances with a clog-Morris side regularly use a couple of songs from the 30's music hall and more recently performed a passable dance to an adaption of the Harry Potter theme.

    It has always been happening. Most sides are striving to preserve the Dance by adapting the music to the traditional steps. Although, as I've already mentioned, their are some die-hard sides who insist the steps and tunes should not be changed.

    I have found the real problem in recruiting people, is getting past the attitude of most youngsters under the age of eighteen who seem to think if they appear on the dance floor they have to be playing air-guitars and head butting innocent bystanders who approach to closely.

    Just to add to the confusion... about five years ago, I made an enquiry to the Northern Arts Council for a small grant to take a side around local schools to promote folk music and dance. They immediately told me Morris dancing was a sport and they couldn't see how they could help. If we were all musicians or danced ballet or a similar recognized 'art form' they would have been more than happy to oblige. The Sports Council told me Morris dance was not a recognized sport and I should approach the Northern Arts Council as they did "that sort of thing" (?)!
    To cut a long story short, I didn't even get past the switchboard of the Lottery Commission after being told by the nice lady she had seen Morris men performing at her village fete and it looked a stupid way to entertain people.

    I reckon the problem is going to remain around , unsolved, for a bit longer.
  10. taniamclewis New Member

    Dark Morris at 2011 Convention

    Hello folks, my name is Tania M C Lewis and I am the Events Co-ordinator for Nullus Anxietas III The Australian Discworld Convention 2011. I will post more on that later.
    I am really, really keen to demonstrate the Dark Morris at the 2011 Convention. I was a Morris Dancer in Portsmouth, UK for about 4 years as a youngster. I know many basic steps and patterns and would love access to film of someone performing the Dark Morris so I can learn it and run it as an event at the 2011 Convention. Of course, if anyone else would like to volunteer to run this event - I would love to hear from you.
    Nullus Anxietas
  11. Joculator The 'Old' Fool

    Email coming your way, Tania. We have an original dance and music written for our own perfomances of the Dark Morris. You won't find it in any of the repertoires of the UK sides.
  12. geegar New Member

    Modern Morris

    We have recently been involved with a school that wanted to learn Morris for a school project. This turned into a request to keep the team that was formed dancing and learning new ond old dances, which we did with "traditional" dances of our own initially.

    Inevitably 14-17 yr olds want to dance to music that they listen to, so we were set the challenge - could we do it? Something that is recognisably a Morris Dance to a modern tune.

    Turns out we could, not by altering the tune [thus making it into something they don't listen to], but by using steps and whole figures of the traditional dances and structuring the new dances in the traditional Morris format [a pattern dance].

    It requires careful selection of music, of course, and a degree of ability to deconstruct the tune [not alter it or change it] and use the dance components that work with the beats, the tune suggests what can be used and what won't work. Joculators example of doing a waltz to a march evidences the importance of knowing the time signature of the music you are trying to make up a dance to, anything in 6/8 will be fairly easy.

    So far we have dances to Biffy Clyro and 3OH!3 / Katy Perry that have gone down a storm - attracting more youth to the team [now more than double the size we started with and more in number than most Morris teams can field], and a request for an adult team from the parents of these pupils. I have tried to do something to Rap [but failed as yet, perhaps the time and beat are just not designed for it, I have yet to give up on the idea though].

    Oh Yes, the young team is all Girls!

    I am with Joculator on the Chauvanism! though I think it is fine for all male, all female and mixed sides to live in harmony and dance together, the energy of the dance is different in each type of set.

    Attracting new members

    Notwithstanding the above, rather singular, experience, I think the article about Morris dying out was a ruse designed to get press [this is not a criticism; clearly it worked!] and whoever did it is to be applauded as it is having the desired effect - people are talking about Morris Dancing and still quoting it 18 months after the press went out. There is a British Film set around Morris Dancing, the DVD has just been released and is doing well, so is it dying out?

    Who is likely to join a morris team? the 40 somethings whose children have grown and whose musical tastes have mellowed [in my youth I listened to punk and electronic, now I listen to folk and can appreciate music for what it is when performed rather than follow the flock in POP Music]. The influx the team [a mixed sex team] I am foreman of has seen from 4 dancers and 1 musician to 20 with 5 musicians in 4 years, all drawn from the 40 somethings bar 1 and they grew up with Morris. As Joculator says, the teens just don't get it [when I was a teen nor did I].

    Dark Morris and back to the thread

    We dance Dark Morris all in black with black hankies for the last "dance out" [public performance] of the season, we wear masks too. The Fool is the only one with any colour, the last dance of the evening is silent, or perhaps only to a drum, we even have sticks that make no noise when clashed together.

    Our interpretation is the dark Morris isn't a specific dance but taken from Terry's idea that is is a closure of the dance out season [you have to dance both or you cannot dance either and one is at the beginning of summer and one at the end], the Morris season begins about May Day [or St Georges Day more likely these days in the UK] and hearalds the summer in the UK, the Morris season ends in September [ish] when the nights draw in and Autumn / Winter is threatening [in the UK], the Dark Morris hearalding the change in the seasons [if you subscribe to the idea that the dance has Pagan origins].

    We think "the Morris" is "the dancing" as in: "I Dance The Morris" the specifics of the dance are not as important as the fact of the dance being danced, although a certain style of dance is a defining characteristic, a pattern dance, one or more dancers, dancing a pattern on the ground with consistent, timed and recognisable stepping or we are back to Air Guitar again!

    Discussions as to what makes a dance a Morris is for another thread and in another forum, but think about what makes you recognise that a dance is a Morris dance and you'll be mainly there?

    good luck, Tania, where in Australia are you? we have some Morris contacts in that part of the world that may be able to help; I would love to help but the expenses from the UK are just too high....

    I'd love to see Joculator's dark Morris dance too! any chance?

    Do you know about "Recently Traditional Fictional Morris"? google it - pics there.


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