A troupe of morris dancers is appealing for new members to help keep this colourful English folk tradition alive.

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As the summer dancing season draws to a close, Kenninghall Morris – which celebrates the energetic “Welsh border” tradition with clashing sticks and colourful costumes – is inviting people along to its practice nights to give it a try.

Peter Osborne, squire of the troupe, said: “We have had a great summer dancing at events across East Anglia, but we are now looking to increase our number over the quieter months.

“Morris dancing is beginning to shake off some of its old image and is being appreciated more for its lively sense of fun and tradition as well as being a good way to keep fit and meet new people.

“Practice nights are fun, informal affairs where new routines and old favourites are rehearsed. Male, female, young and not so very young are all welcome to give it a try or simply find out more.”

Kenninghall Morris was set up in 1999 for fun as an act for the Kenninghall Village Show, but interest was so high that the side decided to keep going, he explained.

They dance in the style of the Welsh Borders (Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire), now called Border Morris, a tradition that is recorded from the early 17th century and may be even older.

“We chose Border as it makes use of fairly simple stepping, so it’s easy for beginners to learn, and the dances are well notated,” said Mr Osborne.

“Border Morris dancers traditionally black their faces, historically used to provide the dancers with anonymity. To create our own identity, we use both black and white.”

The tatters – tops covered with coloured rags – are also traditional for this form of morris dancing and provide colour and form of their own.

“We dance out, as other sides do, throughout the summer at events all over East Anglia. We also dance at special village events in Kenninghall such as at the Wassail in January and midsummer, both in the orchard and wood, and we often receive requests to dance at fairs and fetes as would have been done in years gone by.”

For more information, email Peter Osborne at squire@kenninghallmorris.org.uk or just turn up. Practice nights are every Thursday (except the first Thursday of the month) at Kenninghall Memorial Hall, 7.30pm-9pm.

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