Happy St. George’s Day all
Here’s an early song from Richard Thompson. Its one of his rare overtly political songs, dealing with the class struggle
Richard Thompson – The New Saint George
‘Morris Dancing‘ covers a broad umbrella of traditional English Dances, and there are different styles of dance performed in different areas of the country. In all cases they were perfomed originally by low-paid working people. The most familiar style, incorporating handkerchiefs and sticks, comes from the Cotswold counties of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire and were predominantly performed by farmworkers. The Cotswold dances were performed primarily during the ‘winter layoff’ when farmworkers were unable to work on the land and so were laid off without pay until the weather improved. Another traditional day for dancing was Mayday – May 1st, on which the dancers celebrated the coming of summer.
The dances had pretty much died out by the turn of the 19th Century, but were revived largely due to the efforts of a music teacher called Cecil Sharp who chanced upon the Headington Quarry Morris Men on Boxing Day 1899. Sharp befriended the team’s musician and leader, William Kimber and the friendship led Sharp to devoting the rest of his life to collecting traditional folksongs, tunes and dances, seeking out the few Morris Dance Teams still in existence, and those who could remember the dances being performed, where the dancing had died out.
The dances themselves were revived largely due to the efforts of a few collaborators, particularly Mary Neal, who ran a club for disadvantaged young women in London, called the Esperance Club. Mary used Sharp’s notations to teach the dances to her young women. Sharp and his collaborators would later form the English Dance Society and the English Folksong Society, which later merged to become the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS)
In recent years, many ‘Revival’ Morris sides have taken to dancing out on St Georges Day
Hammersmith Morris Dancers