Dancing with bells and sticks

They swooped in like feathered birds, wearing colourful rags and masks.

They whirled and twirled with bells on legs and shoes.

These are Morris Dancers, performing old-age dances that some say even the Druids performed at Stonehenge during the summer solstice.

The leader of this group of dancers looked fearsome.

Musicians dressed in black played wild music.

I fell in love with the beauty of the accordion.

Some groups of Morris Dancers dress in white and dance with handkerchiefs.

Others dress in feathered rags and dance with sticks that they knock against each other.

When I was younger, I thought that Morris dancing was for nerds.

But now I appreciate the tradition of a dance that binds the past with the present.

There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.  ~Edwin Denby

These are the Morris Dancers I saw at the Steyning Fair in May when I was in England.

For more traditions, please visit: My World.

67 responses

  1. this would be so cool to see…going to see if i can find a youtube vid…what cool costumes…

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 15:58

  2. Wonderful photographs! Morris Dancers are pretty difficult to photograph in my experience, but these are great. I love the accordian close-up too.

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 16:12

  3. Your photos are brilliant. I like those traditions in other countries. I also like to know the origine of each tradition.

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 16:23

  4. Keeping traditions like that alive is quite a valuable achievement. Hooray for them, and thanks for you great photos that tell the story as well.

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 16:34

  5. the past with the present.
    Beautiful. Thanks for the continual educaton, Lady, Fi.

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 17:06

  6. You have really cool traditions in your part of the world. Very different from us here.
    I love accordion music.

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 17:09

  7. Jingle – Jangle and ring a ding ding.
    Magic shots.

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 17:26

  8. Great photographs of such a lively time …. keep the green masked guy away from me though!

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 17:50

  9. Looks like a fun festival!!! Do you know how the tradition has been kept alive and how accurate the tradition is? Especially the costumes? Pretty fascinating when you think about it…how this all traversed the ages!!!

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 18:14

  10. Funny How these are young men keeping the tradition going. Wonderful and colorful. Thanks for reminding me. I had heard of them when I lived in the UK.

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 18:58

  11. that sure seems great fun!
    in india too we have a dance with sticks being knocked called ‘dandiya’!

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 19:02

  12. Riet

    Now that is beautiful I love those coloured rags and the dance looks so interesting

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 19:14

  13. fascingating. i like their rag costumes.

    my world is poste at http://calrat.blogspot.com

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 19:41

  14. What fun. I’d love to see them perform.

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 20:15

  15. Love that quote. I think children have it correct. Spontaneous happy dancing when the mood strikes. 🙂

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 20:29

  16. The facial paint did look scary. But when I saw the accordion I knew all was well. A friendly musical instrument there never was. Love those raggedy costumes.

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 21:31

  17. Very cool! Isn’t it funny how our attitudes change with age?

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 21:57

  18. Love the Laura Ashley look 🙂

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 22:24

  19. Such vibrant colours!

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 22:27

  20. Nerds..my goodness..you are gently getting older Lady Fi! Such colorful rags..they look a little scary but still fun.:)

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 22:41

  21. I love to learn of traditions like these! Thanks! Now i want to go to England to see them!

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 22:55

  22. this sound like a lot of fun. .)

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 23:01

  23. Wonderful! Lovely colors and photos.
    Happy week to you:-)

    Like

    June 27, 2011 at 23:32

  24. Wow. Love the accordion close up, and the elegance of the player’s hands. And the colours – which captured a little bit of joy for me. Thanks.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 00:18

  25. Oh, how fun!
    I love their costumes but the accordion is my favorite picture!
    Beautiful photos!
    Thanks for all the beauty you share!

    Margie 🙂

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 00:53

  26. that first shot is eye-catching….so colorful! I’ll have to ask hubby if he’s heard of this.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 00:57

  27. Traditional and mysterious dancing!! Intriguing and stimulating imagination. Dancers and people have fun. It is great to past down such an old, precious tradition from generation to generation. Thank you for great story and photos! Have a wonderful day!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 01:44

  28. Al

    That looks very colorful and attractive – I love the way you captured the movement in that last photo.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 01:55

  29. This is my first ‘up close encounter’ with Morris Dance! Another good post with great pictures 🙂

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 02:55

  30. When I saw the first two photos, I thought this looked like some of Japanese traditional dance to ward off evil spirits. The music instrument is different. I love the accordion, too. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 04:07

  31. dancing, whereever you may be, I am the lord of the dance said he.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 04:13

  32. I like their costumes 🙂

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 04:33

  33. Amazing, those Morris dancers!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 04:45

  34. Fantastic! Love your photos and the brilliant colors/costumes! What fun! Thanks for sharing it with us!!

    Sylvia

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 06:26

  35. beautiful and colourful series of photos.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 06:31

  36. I’ve never seen Morris Dancers before. Beautiful photos!!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 06:54

  37. Your photos are impressive and they are really good even seen so big!
    But I have never heard about a custom like that, never is too late to learn new 🙂
    Nice sunny summer to you!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 09:32

  38. cloudia

    very good exposition of Morris Dancing. Yes, our view matures over time – thank goodness! 🙂

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

    >

    >

    <

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 09:35

  39. I think its important to keep our traditions alive, by encouraging our young people to continue on with them. I enjoyed these photos Fi – Dave

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 10:20

  40. Ash

    I’ve been in England for the last three years and I’ve never seen these Morris dancers perform though I’ve seen them once in an old pub! Lovely photos. You’ve done a great job.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 11:21

  41. En härlig värld med färg skulle jag vilja säga. Fint att du vill bjuda på denna värld. Min värld är lite rödare…

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 12:08

  42. Hi there – nice to see these dancers again – happy mid-summer from our happy mid-winter!

    Stewart M – Australia

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 12:28

  43. I have seen morris dancers before, such a spectacle

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 12:36

  44. There’s another theory that “Morris” dancing is an Anglicization of “Moorish” dancing, and that in England it only dates back as far as the Crusaders returning with vague memories of Arabic dances.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 13:52

  45. How neat!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 13:58

  46. Good! This form is preserved thus. Colorful and lively. Love those costumes.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 14:17

  47. Very colorful and fun getup.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 14:26

  48. Blu

    Thanks for showing the world the crazy Morris dancers, just like the sealed knot lot, they are a bit bonkers!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 14:27

  49. That would have been something for me ! I wished I could have seen this life !!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 15:10

  50. ds

    I’ve read about Morris Dancers, but never seen them (obviously). Thank you so much for sharing this. The accordian is gorgeous–but I’m curious about the green-faced leader. Is he meant to be a reference to the Green Man of legend?
    So much history & folklore here. Love it!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 16:40

  51. Those costumes are FABULOUS!! The colors are so FUN!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 17:44

  52. So very fun!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 20:05

  53. JM

    Very cool. The accordion shot is fantastic!

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 20:20

  54. Nice pictures, I’ve loved these dresses made with scraps.

    Like

    June 28, 2011 at 21:35

  55. wonderful action shots LadyFi. I really like what they’re wearing. they sort of resemble some things in my closet 🙂

    Like

    June 29, 2011 at 00:30

  56. Never seen Morris Dancers but I can imagine how they look and sound live!

    Like

    June 29, 2011 at 06:02

  57. I love to see Morris men dancing. I’ve never seen the rags, though.

    Like

    June 29, 2011 at 12:31

  58. So colorful and charming! Wonderful lively captures 🙂

    My Yatra Diary…

    Like

    June 29, 2011 at 13:18

  59. Happy Wednesday!

    Like

    June 29, 2011 at 18:19

  60. I HEART THE ACCORDION! GAH!

    Like

    June 29, 2011 at 23:26

  61. Fabulous photos of the Morris dancers!

    Like

    June 30, 2011 at 00:38

  62. This photo shoot is done very well. I feel like I am right there with the dancers :^)

    Like

    June 30, 2011 at 01:59

  63. I love the accordion too
    the dancers are wonderful

    Like

    June 30, 2011 at 02:56

  64. That’s a raggedy bunch if I’ve ever seen one.

    Like

    June 30, 2011 at 03:39

  65. Very eye-catching shot of the accordion!

    Like

    June 30, 2011 at 07:07

  66. Great post. Saw the other side of this years ago on a pre-Christmas (i.e. winter solstice) visit to Stonehenge. Lots of witches and druids about, including one young and very pregnant woman who was hoping to deliver her baby that night within the stone circle.

    Like

    July 1, 2011 at 23:41

  67. Odd how traditions and stories that we discounted when young become more important as we get older. Wonderful pictures; great you were there to see this festival.

    Like

    July 2, 2011 at 02:46

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