Esperance Morris Book vol 1 - online book

A Manual Of Morris Dances Folk-songs And Singing Games With Sheet Music And Instructions

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THE ESPERANCE MORRIS BOOK
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they had a way of getting damp every now and then when he put them in the fender to warm. In the end, however, we got the tunes by dint of patience and making him feel at home with us. When he came to town he brought with him his " young brother," a grey-bearded man, wonderfully agile on his feet, who very soon had our girls dancing the dances he knew.
" They do step it well, miss," he told me, " I never saw a man step better." The learning of a new morris is an interesting sight.
The tune having been taken down, is played on the piano, the old men marshall six girls into the middle of the room ; there is a babel of voices, everyone seems to be pushing everyone into her place. The piano stops, a committee is held, all talking at once. The pianist turns to me in despair. " They'll never get the dance, they can't understand the old man's broad Berkshire dialect, it's no use." " It's all right," I reply, " you wait, I've seen all this sort of thing before ; in twenty minutes they will have got it." And sure enough in less than that " Sally Luker " is going merrily and to the entire satisfaction of the teachers. The other dances go through the same stages, and in two evenings we know all those which the men can teach us.
Later on is given a description of the general morris steps and the formation of the dances for which the tunes are given, but I hope that in every case those wanting to learn will have a teacher who will do what no book can do, to teach the dance in the right way.
In my opinion the ideal teachers are those who have learned these dances direct from the country dancers, and who in the nature of things are in tune with them.
The principal things that make the working girls so suitable as teachers is their youth, simplicity, and their extraordinary vitality and charm. I might hesitate to use these words had I not in my possession scores of letters
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in which it is almost amusing to watch their constant recurrence.
It is no wonder that these free-born laughter-loving healthy girls, who are not two generations away from the peasant class from which they sprung, should have travelled from one end of England to the other taking back to country children their joint inheritance cf dances and games.
After all. if folk music is the spontaneous expression of a people's life, we of our generation too have a contri­bution to make to it. And it is this contribution which I believe these Esperance instructors have given to the movement for the revival of folk music which is going on to-day.
There must be nothing in this revival which cannot be done by the average boy and girl; it must be kept, in the true sense of the word, a " vulgar" movement, under-standcd of the common people.
I am only afraid of the hindering touch of the pedant, of the professional dance and music teacher. The move­ment must be kept clear of all pedantry and of everything precieux. These dances must from time to time be learnt direct from the peasant, and be handed on by the simple-minded, the musically unlettered, the young and the happy. I thought it would take five years to cover England with merry-making boys and girls. Now that the schools can help, it looks as if we should do it in half the time. Reports of progress still pour in, the merry are becoming more merry, and the young more youthful, and even the laggards in health and happiness are coming into line, and I feel we have in this folk music a weapon which will do as much as anything else to check phvsical deterioration, and to make English boys and girls what every lover of our native land would like to see them—upstanding, clean living, and joyous.
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