Cotswold Morris
by Goat Hill Morris

Morris is an old style of dance found in various parts of England.

Nobody knows for sure what its origins are, but references to dances called "moresque" or "moresca" have been found in English records as early as the 1500s; Shakespeare referred to morris in a number of his plays, and in 1599 William Kemp, "Shakespeare's Fool," performed a morris "jig" (or solo dance) from London to Norwich in nine days (he described it in a wonderful little book called "The Nine Daies Wonder," which is a charming piece of self-promotion!). However, there are almost no descriptions of what these dances looked like, and it is almost certain that they have evolved considerably from the "olden days" in any case.

The type of morris performed by Goat Hill is found in the
Cotswold Hills, a region of gently rolling farmland just southwest of Oxford. Since the 1800s the agricultural and trade workers have performed this type of morris in the spring time, typically on Whit Sunday (in the States, this would be Memorial Day weekend). Each village in the Cotswolds which had morris dancers evolved a slightly different style from the others, partly because in the 1800s there were competitions; the prize for the winning team was a cake, hence the phrase, "that takes the cake." Since the huge revival of folk music and dance which began in
the 1970s, morris, especially Cotswold morris, has spread all over the English-speaking world and even into a few other countries, such as Scandinavia. Now, morris is performed all through the spring time, usually beginning on around May Day (some teams perform all through the year).

Goat Hill is eye-catching, loud, and very cheery in our white shirts & pants, with lots of ribbons, and pads of bells tied on our legs just below the knees. The dances are done in sets of six, the dancers flicking hankies, or clashing sticks, and jingling bells in time to the music of fiddle, accordion, and occasionally penny whistle. We prefer
to dance out of doors, on hard surfaces, and enjoy interacting with varied audiences. Children especially enjoy the spectacle. Why Goat Hill? We rehearse on Potrero Hill in San Francisco. Goat Hill is the old name for Potrero Hill, and our practice hall is named (surprise!) Goat Hall.

Suitable for ages 12+.

 



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