Monday, September 12, 2016

A Morris man

click photo to enlarge
It is generally thought that the name "Morris", pertaining to the English type of dance called Morris dancing, derives from "Moorish". Whether that is because of the similarity between the dances or because, as in other instances, the oddness of the dance attracted a foreign epithet, isn't known.

The earliest reference in English to Morris dancing occurs in the mid 1400s, and not until the 1600s does the spelling "Morris" appear. Many writers note that at the end of the nineteenth century Morris dancing as a conscious revival activity prevented the disappearance of the dance as a genuine folk activity of great longevity. Today it is pursued as a hobby or pastime by Morris groups throughout the country. Frequently groups follow the dance steps, patterns and tunes peculiar to the locality in which they are based, something that distinguishes (though often only for the observant) one from the other.

In recent years it has seemed that whenever I go out and about with my camera in the south of England, particularly in the west, I come across Morris dancing. Usually they are strictly traditional in all respects, though one of the most enjoyable was an updating that edged towards heavy metal! It happened again recently when we were in Gloucester. In  a public space at the centre of Gloucester Quays, a shopping centre that has sprung up in the old docks, at least two groups were putting on a display of dancing for any interested shoppers. Naturally there was The Gloucestershire Morris Men, but the troupes also included the Great Yorkshire Morris, of which "Bob" above, is a member.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Morris man, Gloucester Quays, Gloucester
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On