It was in the village of Meavy, near Burrator Reservoir, on one sunny August evening, where I met a group of Morris Maids Clog Dancers and I myself (although not in clogs) danced a North West Morris dance.
Morris dance is a form of English folk dance and the earliest known acknowledgement and surviving English written record of Morris dance dates to 1448. The exact origin is not known or clear but it is worth mentioning that the dance has some similarities to Catalan and to Basque dance.
Dancers uses sticks, swords or handkerchiefs to perform complicated and complex movements with their hands whilst skipping and dancing. Dancers also wear fantastic costumes with many colourful traditional features and pieces.
The Plymouth Maids Clog Dancers were established in 1980 and dance in clogs, which was the typical footwear in the North West of England in the past.
The Maids practise new dances from October to May, they then perform for the public at various locations, including Folk Festivals both home and abroad, fêtes, pubs, and in the streets of Plymouth and other tourist attractions.
Clog or processional Morris is a much more modern type of ‘Morris Dance’ than, for instance, Cotswold Morris. It originated in the county areas of Lancashire and Cheshire in the 18th century. At the time of the rush harvests, the rushes were used to decorate carts which were pulled by teams of men or women, who would stop and perform ritual dances during the procession. Such dances have seen a recent revival and are performed by teams throughout the country.
The women I danced with performed amazing dances with complicated choreography movements wearing dresses that they had embroidered themselves. They danced to traditional folk tunes performed on authentic instruments.
The images are taken from Plymouth Maids website: http://www.plymouthmaids.co.uk/
The Plymouth Maids usually dance out every Thursday evening during the dancing season (May to early September), starting at about 8pm unless otherwise indicated.
Their next performance is today 8th September in the Barbican, at 7:30pm.
Sun 10th Totnes Day of Dance 11.00
Sat 17th Morewellham Quay 13.30
Sat 25th Devonport Bandstand (time tbc)
Thu 28th AGM
If you would like to join Plymouth Maids, they welcome new members from the beginning of their practice season, early September, up until Christmas. The group meet on Thursday nights from about 8.00pm at St Bartholomew’s Church Hall, Milehouse (opposite the Life Centre).