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Morris dance

There are records of Morris Dancing dating back to 1477. In the modern day, it is considered to be a uniquely English activity, although it is mentioned in Renaissance documents in France, Italy, and Spain. The term then was "moorish dance" and "Moresco", which was gradually corrupted to "Morris Dance".

Before the English Civil War, the working peasantry often took part in Morris dances, especially at Whitsun. The Puritan government of Oliver Cromwell, however, supressed Whitsun Ales and other such festivities. When the crown was restored by Charles II, the springtime festivals were restored. In particular, Whitsun Ales came to be celebrated on Whitsunday, as the date coincided with the birthday of Charles II.

Morris dancing continued in popularity until the Industrial revolution and its accompanying drastic social change.

Today, there are three predominant styles of Morris Dancing:

  • Cotswold Morris
    • Dances from the English Cotswolds, normally danced with handkerchiefs or sticks to embellish the hand movements
  • North West Morris
    • More military in style and often processional. Clogs are a characteristic feature of this style of dance
  • Border Morris[?]
    • From the English/Welsh border. A free-flowing, informal style, normally danced with blackened faces and wearing rag coats

Other forms include Molly dance from Cambridgeshire, associated with Plough Monday. A parodic form danced in work boots and with at least one Molly man dressed as a woman.

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