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 thoughts on “Dancing with bells and sticks

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


  2. 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.


  3. 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!!!


  4. 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.


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

    Margie 🙂


  6. 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!


  7. 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.


  8. 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!


  9. 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


  10. 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.


  11. 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.


  12. 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!


  13. 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.


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