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Credit:: Peter Fleming

Vote for your favourite folk dance performance of 2023

We've compiled the best morris performances of 2023. Now it's time to vote for your favourite.

It seems to come round early each year, doesn’t it? The true meaning of the festive season; voting for your favourite morris or associated folk dance performance of the year!

Following the inaugural award in 2022, won by Beltane Border Morris, we’ve once again received dozens of entries showcasing our vibrant and exciting folk dance traditions.

But of course we couldn’t ask you to vote on all 30! So we’ve whittled the nominations down to a shortlist of eight performances representing most* of our folk dance traditions.

(*For the second year running no Molly appears on the shortlist – because none was nominated. Come on Molly dancers and watchers – get some videos made for the 2024 award!)

Casting your vote


Last year, we asked the heads of the Morris Ring, Morris Federation and Open Morris to help us shortlist the entries. In the spirit of openness about the judging process, this year this hasn’t been possibly; frankly because I haven’t had time to organise it.

So, the shortlisting has been done by your fine Tradfolk staff, plus a couple of external opinions.

The shortlist

How to vote

After you’ve watched the performances below please rank your top three dances via the button below. 

To prevent brigading of the voting, points will be awarded as follows:

  • 1st choice = 5 points
  • 2nd choice = 3 points
  • 3rd choice = 1 point

Please cast all three votes by the evening of Sunday, December 17th. Any votes after that date will not count.

The dance with the most points will be the winner of the Tradfolk Morris and Folk Dance Performance of the Year 2023.

What to look for

Here are some things to look out for when considering who to vote for:

  • Are the dancers in line, evenly spaced or making a recognisable shape (circle, square, diamond etc) when they’re meant to be? 
  • Are they all on the same foot and on the beat of the music?
  • Are their movements in time with each other?
  • Do they look like they are enjoying themselves?
  • Is the audience engaged?
  • Does the dance surprise or excite you?

Don’t worry if you’re not a Morris aficionado – you can also just vote for your favourite, regardless of any of the above! Most of all this is just a bit of fun and a way of highlighting some of the great folk dance performances that happen throughout the year all across the country.

The prize is bragging rights (and the massive, multi-million pound endorsement deals Beltane have been swamped with since winning in 2022, obviously. I’ve heard those guys don’t even have jobs anymore; full time morris influencers, all of them).

Meet the sides

Berkshire Bedlam

They made morris dancing hot which was very confusing

About Berkshire Bedlam

Berkshire Bedlam’s portait in the National Gallery

Berkshire Bedlam were formed in 1977 and hail from Wokingham in Berkshire. Their repertoire includes both traditional Leafield dances, as well as self-penned compositions. Like lots of long-standing teams, they’ve had their ups and downs, including not performing at all in 1992 due a drop in numbers, but thankfully they survived the lean years and are regulars at festivals and events both local and national.

Not only can they claim lots of TV appearances (a 2005 episode of Chucklevision being a personal favourite, as featured in our article about morris in popular culture), they are also the only morris side to be immortalised in the National Gallery.

What the nominations said

“Not only was this dance and spot high quality and great fun, for anyone at Sidmouth this year dance shows at the Bulverton were especially poignant. It was hard to choose my favourite of the lot as they were all fantastic, but Berkshire Bedlam just cinched it with this dance.

“They made morris dancing hot which was very confusing.

The judges’ view

The introduction and staging is imposing and really engages the audience from the start. From then on it’s just pure exhileration and enthusiasm. The performance uses the full space superbly and the shapes of the dance are clearly defined. Lines are good and ‘sticking’ crisp.

This is not the first or (spoilers) last video that appears in these lists from Sidmouth LNE spots. A big reason they appear is the great camera work and dedication to capturing morris performances of Owain Boorman and his Morris Hub YouTube channel / Facebook page; thank you Owain!

Check out his channel for more great performance videos.

Boggart’s Breakfast

About Boggart’s Breakfast

One of Sheffield’s plethora of morris teams, Boggart’s Breakfast have been around since 2001, when a pub trip to the Fat Cat resulted in former members of a folded border team, Wicked Stix, deciding to start a new team (you can read about their origins in rather more florid terms here). Since then they’ve been impressiving, unnerving and downright terrifying audiences around the country with their entirely self-penned repertoire.

What the nomination said

“I love the change of pace and direction, the neat lines and intricate sticking. I also love that they were performing at a steampunk weekend and evidently going down well”

The judges’ view

Boggart’s have been one of the top border teams for a long time, and in this video it’s clear to see why. Border is all about big rigourous movements that fill a space and overawe the audience; Boggart’s not only achieve this but also care as much about their lines and moving together as a team – something that sometimes gets lost in border performances.

Plus, I have personally witnessed through bleary eyes how long it takes these guys to apply their makeup, meaning they have to be up at times when no morris person should be awake at festivals. I’d say that deserves a vote or two.

Boss Morris

About Boss Morris

Boss Morris has been bringing a new and unique approach to morris dancing since forming in 2015. Based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, Boss dance traditional dances and their own compositions, often bringing in modern and electronic music into their performances. They’re on a mission to bring morris to increase social social engagement with morris, reshape customs and bring an an inclusive and fresh approach to folk dance. While alaywas having fun and dancing well, of course.

What the nomination said

“Probably the most important folk dance of the year, in terms of pulling focus towards morris dancing. Extremely well choreographed, combining traditional with new steps. The music is probably not to everyone’s taste, but I loved the progressive nature of this whole thing.

The judges’ view

It would have been impossible to create a 2023 performance list and not include this dance. 3.9 million people watched Boss on the BRIT Awards on Saturday 11th February 2023, which I think I can safely say puts this at the top of the pile for audience numbers of any dance this year (let’s hope they don’t all vote as it would make the competition somewhat one-sided…). Although past prime-time TV appearances by morris teams possibly had bigger audiences (my research suggests the Generation Game was getting around 20+ million in the late ’70s when Herga Morris (1974-1990ish) appeared on the show), what was great about the Boss performance with Wet Leg is that morris was an integral part of the artistry of the performance. It wasn’t done for laughs or novelty value, but because the music and dance complemented each other.

Perhaps don’t judge this one on camera work, though, as the multi-million pound production and broadcast budget perhaps puts the others at a disadvantage…

3.9 million people watched Boss on the BRIT Awards

Chiltern Hundreds

About Chiltern Hundreds

Chiltern Hundreds have been performing North West morris since 1992, and can boast appearances in Hong Kong, Seattle and Vancouver, not to mention countless UK festivals, during that time. They are based in Bushey near Watford and pride themselves on dancing in an energetic and high-energy style.

What the nomination said

“This performance had great impact on the audience in the space outside the Ashmolean museum at Oxford Folk Weekend that was absolutely perfect for morris. The sound of their clogs and drums echoed around the space and brought people to the standstill to watch.”

The judges’ view

As the nomination says, the sound of this dance in this space really sets the performance apart. I can well imagine Oxford tourists flocking to the sound of the drums and clogs echoing down the steets. Add to that the military-like precision of the figures, the energy of the stepping and the overall impression of 17 dancers all working together and I think this is a pretty perfect North West performance.

Also a special shout-out to Chiltern’s kit, which I think is one of the smartest out there and gives a thoroughly modern impression of the tradition.

Chinewrde Morris and NYFTE

Two teams sneaking in as one entry here for a joint spot at this year’s Bromyard Folk Festival.


The first is the National Youth Folk Troupe of England, commonly known as NYFTE (“Nifty”). As the name suggests, NYFTE is a national group open to 10-18 year-olds that covers a wide variety of folk music and dance. Since starting in 1990, NYFTE has helped hundreds of young people develop their passion for English traditional song, music and dance. As well as North West, they also dance Cotswold, border, rapper, longsword and clog, plus sing and play instruments.

About Chinewrde Morris

The second featued team is Chinewrde Morris, who also made the shortlist last year. Based in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, Chinewrde have been dancing North West Morris for over 30 years and are renowned for their energetic and precise dancing style.

What the nomination said

“When two sides sharing a stand realise they both dance the same dance, and combine forces to produce a mass celebration it’s always a joyful spectacule. Joint band, dancers interleaved, lines sharp and dancers who were enjoying themselves.”

The judges’ view

Who doesn’t love a joint spot? It’s rare for one to look as good as this though, particularly with over 20 dancers involved. ‘Celebration‘ (written by John Earnshaw of Wakefield Morris) is such a great dance for spots like this as it’s a solo dance that can be done for as many who know it. If you fancy learning it, John produced a video during the Covid lockdowns, so polish up your ramp steps and get ready to jump in at the next North West spot you find.

Chinewrde are another North West team whose kit I think deserve a special mention. Recently redesigned by Wefan Textiles’ Rosie Butler-Hall, it shows how morris teams can upgrade and modernise without losing the fundamentals that make them recognisable and connect to their history.

Tower Ravens Rapper

About Tower Ravens Rapper

This year’s rapper representation comes from London’s Tower Ravens Rapper. Named after the synonymous feathered guardians of the Tower of London and with a Tommy dressed as a Beefeater, they can be found touring London’s drinking holes on a monthly basis, plus at all of the biggest folk festivals. Having formed following DERT 2012 (that’s the Dancing England Rapper Tournament, for those unaware), they have gone on to win numerous awards for their dancing in the intervening decade, not least at the 2023 competition when they won the overall competition, alongside an award for the best stepping and music.

The drama, the theatre, the pizazz, the innovation, the courage, the bare balls of it all! So exciting.

What the nomination said (Buckle up, because this is a long one…)

“Rapper has never been better!”

“Seeing three sets up of a female rapper team at the top of their game, made history I think”

“It was a spectacular performance that clearly took incredible work and dedicated rehearsal. Blown away by three rapper sets! And to join them all together in one big set at the end! Phenomenal.”

“I’m not massive fan of watching Rapper but this was a fantastic performance that many will remember for a long time!”

“The energy, precision and just impressiveness of having three sides all dancing together, finishing with a 15(16?) sword lock was amazing, especially after a long week at Sidmouth.”

“I don’t remember seeing a rapper performance that inspired such an enthusiastic audience response! I also don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it. Everyone in the tent was full of support for Tower Ravens – the atmosphere was electric! One to remember!”

“The drama, the theatre, the pizazz, the innovation, the courage, the bare balls of it all! So exciting.”

The judges’ view

Without giving too much away from the nomination comments you can probably tell this was a popular one. It’s easy to see why.

This is another performance from a Sidmouth Late Night Extra (LNE) in the Bulverton, probably the country’s most prestigious morris spot. The atmosphere and buzz of the tent is palpable; if you’ve never attended a Sidmouth LNE these performances take place in the late night ceilidh interval at midnight. Already an ungodly hour for morris dancing, what makes this dance all the more impressive is that it was the last Friday of the festival, so Tower Ravens had already been dancing all week, running workshops, doing extra pub crawls and winning the team collecting competition. The fact they could still stand up at all is frankly astonishing, let along put up three sets for a rapper tour de force.

This performance, Berkshire Bedlams’ above and all the other brilliant LNE dance displays wouldn’t have happened this year (and perhaps ever again) without the mobilisation and generosity of the folk dance community in Spring 2023 when it was looking like the Bulverton tent would not have a dance floor this year. In a few short days, a crowdfunder raised around £25,000 to not only secure a floor for 2023, but also to fund groundworks to make it cheaper to put in the dance floor in future years. Here’s to many more years of excellent morris LNE performances!

Twin Sword

About Twin Sword

With a combined age of under 60, Twin Sword are both our youngest entrants and the newest team in the list. So-called because they are comprised of three sets of twins (geddit?), they are all from Sheffield and have known each other since being babies. They were formed to perform at the 2023 Sword Dance Union Longsword Competition, where they were highly commended, but have since performed out a few more times and there are even whispers of starting a wider youth longsword team open to people who are not twins (which feels like a pretty niche market).

What the nomination said

“A very young side taking on a very old tradition and doing it with enthusiasm, poise and grace. Demonstrating that traditions will survive and be embraced by a new generation.”

The judges’ view

I didn’t only shortlist Twin Sword because they are the kids of some very close friends of mine. I wanted to include as wide a representation of our folk dances as possible (get those Molly nominations in next year!), and what better video to include than a group representing the future of our traditions. As you might expect, Twin Sword were extremely popular at the Sword Dance Union Longsword Competition where the average age was, to be polite, somewhat older than 10. So let’s celebrate a group of young ‘uns willing to put the time and effort into learning and performing a traditional dance to an accomplished standard in public.

Winchester Morris Men

I’d had a tough day and I happened across these chaps. Something about the setting, the sun, the dancing and the bells turned my evening around.

About Winchester Morris

From our newest team to the most longstanding.

Winchester Morris came into existence on 11th March 1953 at the Eclipse Inn, The Square, Winchester, which seems suspiciusly precise in a hobby that has a reputation for “morris time”. Winchester have, you might say, been around the block in that time, dancing across the country, in France, the Netherlands, Washington DC and “even on the Isle of Wight” (their words not mine). They can also boost not one, but two previous squires of the Morris Ring amongst their members; Lionel Bacon (1962-64) and Geoff Jerram (1986-88).

In researching this biography of the team, I also learnt that Lionel compiled the invaluable Handbook of Morris Dances, a copy of which I have, as I’m sure many dancers do, on my shelf next to me.

What the nomination said

“I don’t know a huge amount about what makes a morris dance good, but I’d had a tough day and I happened across these chaps. Something about the setting, the sun, the dancing and the bells turned my evening around. The magic of the morris!”

The judges’ view

This video was submitted by our own Tradfolk editor-in-chief, Jon Wilks (hence it being hosted on the Tradfolk YouTube channel, for those wondering).

I am absolutely delighted to include it in this shortlist, as it shows morris as it is danced 90% of the time. Not at big, late night or tourist-packed festival spots, but in relatively low-key spaces to small audiences by groups getting together for the sheer joy of dancing. Of course it helps that this performance is also extremely accomplished; sharp lines, precise stepping and crisp sticking combine with the perfect camera position to make this an extremely evocative performance. As I sit listening to the mid-December rain and wind whistle around my house, it makes me yearn for the long warm summer evenings spent with fine company and silly costumes outside a country pub.

And on that note, here ends the shortlist! Click below to vote for your favourite dance and good luck to all the finalists!