Dance displays at Tenterden Folk Festival 2008
3rd to 5th October 2008
At Tenterden Folk Festival you will see around 30 difference dance sides representing most of the different Morris styles including Cotswold Morris, Molly dancers, Border Morris and North West Clog. You may even see Longsword and Rapper.
Cotswold Morris is probably the most frequently seen Morris style. A dance is normally in sets of six or eight dancers who will be waving white handkerchiefs or clashing sticks. As the name suggests these dances are thought to have originated in the Costwold area around Gloucestershire and Warwickshire. Each side or team has a unique costume which will frequently include a white shirt, white trousers or black breeches, and bell-pads worn on the shin. A baldrick may be worn across the chest with a badge showing the name of the side in the centre.
Molly Dances were originally performed in January as part of the Plough Monday celebrations in East Anglia. As in many areas, it was customary for local farm workers to take a plough round the local villages, dancing, singing and collecting money for food and beer. Molly dancers usually have black faces, possibly to avoid recognition, and wear work cloths and hobnailed boots.
Border Morris originated in the Welsh border counties including Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire. Border is more energetic and lively than Cotswold with more vigorous stepping and violent stick clashing often accompanied by loud shouting. The dances can be in sets of four, six, eight or even more. Costume will include a coat made of rag tatters or a tail coat. Some sides black their faces and others have taken to wearing masks.
North West Clog Morris comes from the industrial towns of Cheshire and Lancashire and the costumes worn tend to be striking and include clogs with irons nailed to soles and heels. The dances are quite intricate and involve stepping and creating a rhythm sounded out by the clogs. The dances are best performed by groups which are a multiple of four and the dancers will often carry smaller sticks in each hand.
Longsword is only occasionally seen in Tenterden as there are not many teams locally who dance this style which is more frequently seen in the North of England. Each “sword” is about three feet long, made of steel with a wooden handle at one end. The climax of the typical dance is the formation of a star or lock as seen in the emblem of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
Rapper is another form of “sword” dance which is also seen only occasionally at Tenterden. Rapper was originally found in Durham and Northumberland areas. The swords are a flat strip of flexible steel about two feet long with a handle at each end. The standard dance is performed by a set of five men often accompanied by a fool. The cloths normally include white shirts, breaches and heavy shoes or boots.
The music for all sorts of Morris dancers is often provided by individual musicians or by groups incorporating concertinas, melodeons, drums, guitars, banjos, fiddles, brass and percussion instruments.
As well as Morris you will of course also see the ever popular Appalachian dancers, Scottish dancers, Maypole dancers and sometimes Irish dancers and even Slovakian dancers.
Tanglefoot Appalachian Cloggers regularly entertain at Tenterden with their own arrangements of American style folk clog dancing associated with the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee, West Virginia. Appalachian dancing is an amalgamation of the various styles and traditions that early settlers, such as the English and Irish, took with them to America from Europe. Although the dancing is referred to as 'clogging' the dancers actually wear tap shoes. Apparently the dancing seemed similar to English clog stepping and so the term stuck.
After the success of last year’s souvenir programme we will be publishing an even bigger programme this year and we are still accepting bookings for advertisements.
More details of Tenterden Folk Festival 2008 guests, accommodation and camping are now being posted on our website at www.tenterdenfolkfestival.org.uk.
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Alan Castle – Festival Director
19th July 2008
Trustee and festival director
Tenterden Folk Festival
Tenterden Folk Day Trust (Registered charity No. 1038663)
Promoting folk song, music and dance