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.
CHAPTER IV.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DANCES.
I N the dances of the particular set which include Country Garden, Rigs o' Marlow, Shepherd's Hey, and Constant Billy the form is the same, with a slight variation in Shepherd's Hey, noted later. Each dance consists of a series of evolutions, which are : chain, cross-over, and back-to-back, and in between each of these movements occur the steps and hand movements particularly characteristic of each dance. The evolutions—chain, cross-over, and back-to-back—are done to eight bars of the music, and the steps for accomplishing them are :—
I Spring on the right foot = R. Spring on the left foot = L. Spring on the right foot = R. Hop on the right foot = hop R.
jump ; this will be called Down and back turn ; Up and back face.
Chain.—-You start facing partners, and the leaders and ends have to change places. To do this they all four turn out and dance towards each other ; at the same time the centres follow their leaders, so when leaders and ends meet the centre should be in her leader's place ; the leader then goes in front of the end girl to her (end) place ; the end girl dances to leader's place—she will have to pass in front of centre, who will return to her own place. This is a half chain and takes 4 bars ; to complete chain do the same to own places, centre always following her leader.
In Chain, the dancers should have reached the places they are making for by the time they have finished R L R hop R, LRL hop L, so that both hop, both hop, etc., should be danced in position.
Cross-over.—To do this you cross to your partner's place, right shoulders touching, doing R L R hop R, L R L hop L. By this time you should have turned in her place ; you then do both hop both hop together jump, and cross to places in the same way.
Back-to-back.—-You meet your partner, right shoulders touching, doing R L R hop R. You then pass round her without turning on L R L hop L, and back to your own place on both hop both hop together jump ; you then repeat, left shoulders touching.
I bar—Feet together and jump.
The dancers would do well to bear in mind the following general rules for performing the steps. Try to dance on the ball of the foot towards the toe. The effect should not be of stamping or of scraping, but one should make a clean clear tap on the ground. The less noise made the better; it is the bells that we must hear, not the stamp of the foot. The unemployed leg should, in general, be straight, but not stiffened. The effect should be one of naturalness and ease. At the beginning of a step the foot which is about to be used is thrust forward, and is brought back into position on the ground in order to make the first step or spring. At the moment the foot touches the ground the other foot is thrust forward. In making the hop, the unemployed foot should not be raised too high from the ground ; but the hop itself should be a high one, as this act of restraining the unemployed leg should give the effect of a shake to that leg, which makes the bells "speak" The approximate position of the feet can be seen in the lower picture on p. ix.
These dances, with the exception of " Rigs o' Marlow," all start the same way, and the same steps are used as for chain, etc. The set stand in position, the music plays 4 bars, a slight jump is made on 2nd beat of 4th bar, and the set then all dance forward, doing R L R hop R, L R L hop L, and retire doing both, hop, both, hop, together, and jump ; they then make a right about turn and do the same thing the other way, and on " together," being in their places they face partners and
SHEPHERD'S HEY (Stick Dance).
The evolutions in this dance are the same as those just described, with one exception. In this dance crossing is done by a movement called " go-and-come," which is a little different from the ordinary crossing and back-to-back. The dancers cross by a slanting movement, bearing a little to the left, and come back without turning on the same track ; they then cross bearing to the right, and return on their own tracks.
The evolutions therefore are as follows :—
Partners knock sticks on last beat of " Once to yourself."
Down and back, turn ; Up and back, face partners.
8 bars. Dance ; chain. 16 bars. Dance ; go-and-come. 16 bars. Dance ; back-to-back. 16 bars. Dance ; go-and-come. 16 bars. Face as at start and dance the same step as for chain
in position for 8 bars double quick time. Finish
by flinging both hands above head and cry. For down and back and all evolutions, the step is the
same as described above.
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