Morris dancing is a traditional form of English folk dance that is thought to have originated in 15th-century Spain, either as a Moorish dance or in imitation of one. In rural England, the dance was a feature of May Day celebrations. The dance is part pantomime, using such stock characters as a Fool and a hobbyhorse to mime traditional English stories. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in Morris in England and in the United States.
Banbury Cross Morris
is a Morris dancing team for young people, based in Newton
, Massachusetts. When the team was founded in 1981, it was the first Morris team for young people in the U.S. Today, a number of teams for young people have followed Banbury Cross
's example, but we still proudly carry on our tradition of teaching Morris to new generations of young dancers.
Who Can Join?
Banbury Cross Morris
is open for membership to young men and women ages ten through eighteen.
When and Where Do We Meet?
We meet in the Parish Hall of the First Unitarian Society of Newton, 1326 Washington Street, West Newton, Massachusetts, from 6:15 to 7:30 PM on Wednesday evenings during the school year.
Is it Hard to Learn?
Most people take about a year to learn enough to be able to perform in public, and about two years to become fully competent dancers. People who are unusually athletic or well coordinated, or who have studied other forms of dance, tend to learn more quickly, however, anyone who is reasonably fit can learn Morris dancing. As with most things in life, hard work, practice and perseverance will take you far.
Do You Perform in Public?
Banbury Cross Morris performs at the New England Folk Festival (NEFFA)
every spring, and we generally participate in several other public performances each year, including Lilac Sunday at Boston
's Arnold Arboretum, and the May Day
sunrise celebration on the banks of the Charles River
, near Harvard Square in Cambridge.
How Much Did It Cost?
Fees for the 1998-99
school year have been set at $95 per semester, payable in September and January. We are a not-for-profit organization, and we intentionally keep our fees as low as we can.
In addition, new members will need to make a set of bell pads, if you do not already have one. We provide you with materials at our cost, which is currently $20. These become your property.
The official kit of Banbury Cross is as follows:
- A long-sleeved white shirt or blouse with a collar.
- White pants.
- White socks and white athletic shoes.
- Armband ribbons.
- Baldricks (yellow and green)
- Bell pads
What you need to supply are the shirt (1), the pants (2) and the shoes and socks (3). The pants, shirt, and socks must be genuinely white, not off-white or cream colored. Banbury Cross will supply the armbands (4) and the baldricks (5). The bell pads (6) are another story altogether!
Each dancer is responsible for making a set of bell pads. When you have made them, they will belong to you, to keep even after you have left the team. The price of the leather, bells and hardware (rivets, grommets, etc.) is $20. Details about how to make them will come later.
Other Morris sites
There is a great deal of Morris dance material on the Web; Ishmæl the Fiddler has a Morris page which is as good an entry point to this maze as any:
Banbury Cross performing at the New England Folk Festival (NEFFA), Natick, Massachusetts, April 1996