December 5 2013 Latest news:
By DAVID BLACKMORE
Monday, October 15, 2012
It’s an ancient English folk tradition that seems to be cherished and derided in equal measure and is claimed to be on the verge of extinction.
The old joke that: “You should make a point of trying everything once, except incest and morris dancing” does little to help the cause.
And a survey in 2002 by the Future Foundation also revealed just 24pc of young Britons viewed the tradition as a key part of our heritage.
But efforts are under way in King’s Lynn to rehabilitate morris dancing in the public consciousness and the town’s troupe, The King’s Morris, held a taster session on Saturday as part of its drive to recruit new, younger members which includes a possible future flashmob event.
And Squire Ian Price reckons the tradition is not on its last legs yet.
“It’s true that most dancers tend to be getting on a bit,” he said. “We don’t have anybody under the age of 50 and most of us are over 60.
“I’ve been here for 26 years and our members are just getting older and older. But what we are trying to do now is make an effort to make newcomers welcome.
“Morris dancing is never going to be mainstream but we don’t need a lot of people to help keep this tradition alive in this area.”
The King’s Morris were formed in 1978 as a revival side, meaning one formed in a town with no prior tradition of morris dancing.
They dance from May to September, and are best known for dancing up the dawn on Knight’s Hill roundabout, before parading a garland through Lynn on May 1.
Mr Price continued: “Our biggest problem is getting youngsters to come along, join and stay for a long time. We had two boys who came here when there were in their teens but then went off to university – hopefully in later life they will came back to it.
“But I think what we also need to do is to attract young fathers who have kids that are young enough that they have to come with their dad to practise and hopefully this tradition will rub off on them.”
He added: “There are records of morris dancing going back to Henry VIII and even Shakespeare so if it’s been around for this long, then it should stay. It’s great fun and it’s important for people like me, who drive desks, because it’s a good way of keeping fit.”
Over the summer, Mr Price said seven people expressed an interest in joining their troupe, which currently consists of 11 dancers and four musicians. And at the taster session at the Memorial Hall at St Germans on Saturday, one of those interested people came along to try and learn a few basic steps.
Lynn resident John Bush, 66, was a member of The King’s Morris some 20 years ago and after bumping into the troupe a month ago, decided to answer the plea for more dancers.
He said: “I love it because it’s good harmless fun with people enjoying themselves. At the end of the day I think morris dancers give a lot of pleasure to lots of people.”
Have you ever fancied having a go? The King’s Morris rehearse during the winter at the Memorial Hall at St Germans on Monday evenings.
Anyone interested can call David Jackson, the King’s Morris’s bagman, for more details on 01553 768390.