Scroll below to find all our articles about England's traditional folk dance.
Morris dancing is a traditional folk dance that first appears in records in England from the 15th century. It involves a group of dancers performing intricate and rhythmic movements, usually accompanied by live music played on instruments such as the accordion, fiddle, or melodeon.
The origins of Morris dancing are unclear, but it is believed to have developed from earlier forms of traditional dance that were performed in rural communities across England. It has been suggested that the dance may have originally been a fertility ritual or a form of pagan worship, although evidence to back this claim up is scarce.
That depends on the style of dance. Morris dancers often wear traditional costumes that include white shirts, breeches or trousers, and black shoes. They may also wear brightly colored waistcoats, sashes, and ribbons, as well as bells around their knees or ankles. Some dancers - especially those that dance border morris - may also wear hats, feathers, tatter jackets or other decorative accessories.
Morris dancing is performed for a variety of reasons, including entertainment, cultural preservation, and community bonding. In the past, it was also used to mark significant events such as weddings, harvest festivals, and other calender celebrations.
Morris dancing has spread to other countries over the years, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. However, it remains most closely associated with its English roots and is still most commonly performed there.
Yes, anyone can learn to Morris dance! Many Morris dancing groups welcome new members, regardless of their level of experience or ability. Some groups even offer classes and workshops to teach the basic steps and movements of the dance. The best way to find your local side is to look at the Morris Ring's 'find a side near you' page.
Morris dancing seems to be having a bit of a renaissance, thanks in part to the work of Laurel Swift, Alex Merry and Boss Morris, among other young and progressive sides. Speaking about Boss Morris's appearance at the 2023 Brit Awards, morris historian Michael Heaney said, "Seeing Boss Morris at the Brits, I thought they were evoking not so much a tradition of Englishness as something exotic and spectacular, which must have been the kind of feelings morris evinced when it first burst onto the entertainment scene at the royal court in the 15th century."
Discover May Day dance-outs and wassails near you
Trending Morris articles
Our most popular morris features here on Tradfolk