WANTED - Morris Dancers from Penkridge

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Morris Men in Penkridge Xmas 2002 - Pictures

WANTED - Penkridge Men

MEN of mature mind, unlikely to be less than 40, who, having done everything, are looking for that little extra out of life;   something more than flicking the remote, something to stimulate the mind, use a little energy (but not too much), absorb the interest.

Young lads plunge like lemmings into the lager-vat, brewed from marketing's promise of eternal lust, everything now and nothing to pay for until tomorrow.  Between youth and the early thirties, the accelerated pace of change and uncertainty of modern life, forge a life-style incapable of sustaining reliable structural material for anything, let alone the continuity of Morris Dance.  Be that as it may, it is the raw material available, vast natural reserves of rampant ignorance.  Try to change it and you're looking straight down the barrel of the multi-million pound "marketing industry".  Better to lie in wait until they stabilise and can see that what we are trying to preserve is just what they're looking for, something to build on for a more complete and sustainable life-style.

THE ENGLISH MORRIS DANCE, of unknown origin but probably part of primitive religious ceremonial, is danced principally by the men, but in the distant past not exclusively.  Stick tapping on the ground are acts to "awaken Mother Earth from winter slumber", the handkerchief waving and clapping to despatch evil spirits.  The name probably derived as earlier dancers blackened their faces resembling the Moors, described by soldiers returning from the crusades.  Staffordshire is rich in Morris history - Danced in Lapley in 1655, we know the names and have traced current descendants.  Morris Men of the 16th century are recorded in the stained glass of Betley window, now in the Victorian & Albert Museum;  and St. Mary's Church records refer to Morris Men "Thomasing", (collecting for the poor), in the 1600's - traditions we are trying to continue.

Today The Morris Ring (our National Association) preserves this ancient English tradition so that our descendants may enjoy the historic spectacle which, with cricket and the village green, have come to epitomise the very essence of an English summer's day.

The Morris Dance provides gentle exercise............................. But that's not why we do it.
The Dance has traditions emerging from the mists of time.......But that's not why we do it.
The Morris has tunes found no-where else................................But that's not why we do it.
We dance for many local charities..............................................But that's not why we do it.

We enjoy Morris Dancing, the camaraderie, it's entertaining, stimulating, relaxing................
                                    and it's ENGLISH - THAT'S WHY WE DO IT!

Stafford Morris Men, who draw members from Staffs, Shrops, and adjoining counties would like it to be known that the new seasonís PRACTICE has started and would welcome new members. Northend Community Centre on Holmcroft Rd Stafford is the venue 8.30pm Monday evenings. (thatís just off M6 North Stafford Jn. turn off Eccleshall Rd near Tillington Hall Hotel).

Men without previous experience are invited call Alan Dandy on 01952 810334 for more detail &/or just turn up. Whilst Morris is not dying out in the area we do need others to act as custodians of this very English of English traditions for future generations. Members come from all walks of life, University lecturers, engineers, gardeners & farm labourers.

Itís not difficult, but itís not as easy as it looks, itís relaxing, itís light exercise, but most of all itís fun & for enjoyment of dancers and audience alike. Itís not a beer drinkerís charter, and althoí we do enjoy the camaraderie of an odd pint after practice, we share lifts or stay well below the limit if driving home.

Special arrangements are made for potential new members to enable them to enjoy participation as early as possible yet recognise that they may not be as fit as they would like to be. Thereís no age limit, but over 38 has advantages. Several instruction 'sheets' have been prepared, in Filo-fax format, and these will be made available to potential new members. They have been set out by members who have just gone through what you may be attempting to do. They realise the difficulties, not only of the learning process, but also the 'culture', and are designed to assist.

The dance traditions that were originally passed on by word of mouth, from generation to generation rely on new men successfully learning the dances. We repeat - Morris Dance in the area is not in danger of dying out as some may lead you to believe, but it does need to develop in the modern world. Hopefully, you will be one of many working to achieve this objective.

Also PROGRAMMES & BOOKLETS are usually available from Stafford Libraries and Information Centres or just call as above. Our dedicated web site is http://www.staffordmorris.org.uk or use search ďStafford Morris DancingĒ

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Lapley - June 2002

The Vaughan Arms, Lapley - June 2002

Copyright © Text - Alan Dandy:  Photos - Bevan Craddock 2002/3