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The Tradfolk Rachallenge: Cotswold Morris

Is it possible to learn how to Morris dance in one month flat? Rachel Wilkinson is about to find out in the first ever Tradfolk Rachallenge.

Rachel Wilkinson of the Tradfolk Rachallenge
Rachel Wilkinson is a writer on the Tradfolk website. She's an adventurous sort and she likes to set herself targets. We thought it'd be fun if YOU set her challenges, getting her to involve herself in various British traditions and then write about them for your pleasure. Got any Tradfolk Rachallenge suggestions? Add them in the comments below, or send them to the @tradfolkrach Instagram account.

Something about an impending birthday always has me taking stock. What did I actually achieve in the last year? Well, a few good things (pauses for the applause to die down) but it made me think – what would I like to be looking back on in a year’s time? Cue my internal monologue:

“12 whole months of possibility. That’s a lot. What could I do in a year? Hmm, too much scope. What could I do in a month? Better. Expand that. What 12 things could I do before April 2023. Nope, too big again. What one thing could I achieve by May (and while I choose the next thing)? There it is.

This coincided with the realisation that my local Cotswold side, for whom I am a decidedly itinerant musician, will be in touring elsewhere as April melts into May, and what with one thing and another, I can’t join them. Normally, they’d be up long before the day-o to dance up the sun next to Ely Cathedral, but alas, not this year. It would be remiss of me, at this point, not to mention that the marvellous Ely and Littleport Riot will be dancing on regardless by the West Door, but the prospect of no Cotswold Morris on May Morning gave my little grey cells an idea about what my first challenge might be.

The first ever Tradfolk Rachellenge is…

I’ll spend April learning a Cotswold jig and on May Day, I’ll do my bit to get summer going. Great plan. Except…

I have tried dancing twice in my life. The second time prompted a global pandemic (I have no evidence that the two weren’t connected) and the first time looked like this –

Dartington Morris looking on, in awe. Photo credit: Cat Shearer

Such poise and elegance… And that look of panic. I can’t promise it won’t look like this again but I’ve assembled a crack team to help me, and I’ll be updating you on my progress throughout the month right here on the Tradfolk website. Hankies at the ready!

Want to see Rachel take part in a mummers play? Learn some shin kicking? Chase a truckle of cheese? Help decide what the next Tradfolk Rachallenge is by leaving your comments below.