Awakening the Earth with Dance

Awakening the Earth with Dance Morris dance musicHere’s a program from our archives.If you should come across a group of brightly garbed people, dancing and leaping about to this music as they clack long wooden sticks together, well you’ve come upon a Morris dance, and this is a good time of year to witness it. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Morris dancing is an English folk form hundreds of years old. Shakespeare referred to it in several of his plays. And for about the past twenty-five years, there’s been a revival of Morris dancing on both sides of the Atlantic. Laura Chessin plays fiddle in a Morris group in Virginia. She says the sound of Morris music may be a bit misleading.Chessin: The music has a real proper, formal quality to it. It’s really very much English dance music and it’s been fitted into something that is more robust and athletic. Traditionally there are six dancers and that’s called the side, and it’s set up in three pairs of two. And you face up towards the musicians, and the musicians are usually fiddlers, or a melodeon which is a kind of a squeeze box or concertina, and sometimes there are drums.Morris dancing is traditionally part of a springtime ritual, a celebration of fertility that’s often performed in May Day fairs and festivals. In one style of Morris, the dancers wear wooden clogs, and in the most popular form, the dancers wave handkerchiefs, wear bells around their legs and have wooden sticks that they sometimes pound onto the ground, symbolically tamping seeds into the soil. Chessin: Morris dancing is a fertility reenactment of the planting ritual. The significance of the sticks are to awaken the earth.We’ve been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Awakening the Earth with Dance

An old English folk form that is thriving on both sides of the Atlantic.
Air Date:06/08/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

Awakening the Earth with Dance Morris dance musicHere's a program from our archives.If you should come across a group of brightly garbed people, dancing and leaping about to this music as they clack long wooden sticks together, well you've come upon a Morris dance, and this is a good time of year to witness it. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Morris dancing is an English folk form hundreds of years old. Shakespeare referred to it in several of his plays. And for about the past twenty-five years, there's been a revival of Morris dancing on both sides of the Atlantic. Laura Chessin plays fiddle in a Morris group in Virginia. She says the sound of Morris music may be a bit misleading.Chessin: The music has a real proper, formal quality to it. It's really very much English dance music and it's been fitted into something that is more robust and athletic. Traditionally there are six dancers and that's called the side, and it's set up in three pairs of two. And you face up towards the musicians, and the musicians are usually fiddlers, or a melodeon which is a kind of a squeeze box or concertina, and sometimes there are drums.Morris dancing is traditionally part of a springtime ritual, a celebration of fertility that's often performed in May Day fairs and festivals. In one style of Morris, the dancers wear wooden clogs, and in the most popular form, the dancers wave handkerchiefs, wear bells around their legs and have wooden sticks that they sometimes pound onto the ground, symbolically tamping seeds into the soil. Chessin: Morris dancing is a fertility reenactment of the planting ritual. The significance of the sticks are to awaken the earth.We've been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.