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 Growth and Future of Morris Dancing.
An interviezu in the "Musical Herald" zvit/i Miss, Mary Neal, Espirance Girls' Club.
" Miss Neal, you have told the story of the beginning of your folk-music work in 'The Esperance Morris Book.' Will you tell the Musical Herald something aboul its developments ? "
" With pleasure. Where shall I begin ? The work now absorbs the whole of my time and that "I a secretary. I fear you will not have room to describe all that we are doing, but I can give you some instances oi the enthusiasm with which the movement is being taken up. I have a list of addresses of persons interested. Recently 1 sent a notice to about one-third of the names cm this list, announcing that I have had put at my disposal a large house at Littlehampton, and proposed to hold there an Easter vacation course for teachers. The notice wa.s copied into one or two educational papers. I thought that, if successful at all, I might hope to fill the house after two or three months' canvassing. Between fifty and sixty people could be taken. In three days 1 had to stop all circularising, and could have filled the house three times over. To avoid some of the disappointments a smaller house and some additional rooms have been engaged We hope to give teachers a comprehensive course of folk-art, combined with a delightful holiday at the seaside ami on the Sussex downs. Morris dances will be taught by Miss Florence Warren. Singing games by Miss May Start. Folk-songs by Mr. Clivc Carey. Lectures will be given by the Hon. Neville l.vtton and others. I am going to lecture on the religious ideas which persist in folk-lore. On Easter Sunday (what day more appropriate ?) Mr. F. R. Benson will possibly speak on Shakespeare and the resurrection of the dead. In more detail, the General Secretary of the Festival Association will speak about the features of the next celebrations at Stratford-on-Avon. It is clear that we must organise this vacation teaching on a bigger scale in the summer, and I shall welcome applications from ten hers who would like to join a course in August."
" Is there something special about the next Shakespeare anniversary ? "
" Folk-song and dance competitions are being organised, and will be held in the Town I [all and Corn Exchange at Sti atford-on-Avon. Children from elementary schools will compete in nine classes (open and local) on the 9th May. in folk-songs, morris dances, traditional English country dances, and solo jigs. On the following day there will be similar
compel tions for adults, including novices. For these contests we are sending a good many teams from pupils in our (lasses. If there is sufficient encouragement a uninicr school ol morris daneing will be held in connection with the Shakespeare com me moral ions."
" What is being done by the Esperance Club ? "
"The work has outgrown local interests Besides the Club premises in Cumberland Market, an office is being 111,cm tamed. The tune has come to unite scattered forces. I lie Esperance Guild of Moris Dancers is being formed, consisting of those people in England who want to see the development of song, dance, game, and drama originated by the people themselves. A small subscription will entitle members to join any classes or attend freely any public appearances of the Club. Intending members should write for information to me at 50 Cumberland Market. London, X.W.
" llow is your training carried on ? "
" Six teachers are constantly on tour, sometimes eight are at work. A teacher usually spends a week giving lessons daily in one place . she may be re-engaged for six weeks or at once introduced to a neighbouring society. One education authority suggests having one teacher engaged for three months at different places within the county. We scarcely know how to overtake the work. It has come upon me like a torrent, which has been increased by the recent circular of the Board of Education recommending morris and other country dances. We have given over twenty concerts in the Small Queen's Hall, others at Kensington Town Hall, and we have been all round the environs of London. Next summer I am meditat ing a fortnight's tour by motor 'bus from London to Yorkshire and back, giving a display in a different town or village every day but Sunday. We have taught girls' clubs, boys' clubs, polytechnic schools, and private individuals in all parts of London. We have started classes especially for elementary school teachers, which are very well attended. Everywhere the same result has followed. Letters come from all parts of England, the colonies and foreign countries. This revival of the practice and use of our English folk music is part of a. great national awakening, a going back from town to country, a reaction against all that is demoralising in city life. In this music we have made a great discovery of a hidden treasure."
Some Developments of the Revival of Folk Dances.
An interview in the " Observer.
■ I the most                 ing entertainments to be given in
Way-Day Festival will take place i1 1                 Hi Town Hall next Thursday evening, when the
E.          .ce Club and Guild of Morris Dancers will recall many
of the folk-songs, singing games, and dances, which are fast becoming only a memory of the past.
I or several years Miss Mary Xeal has thrown he self with characteristic energy into a movement for rev ving these quaint and charming o'.d dances, which are so racy of the soil, and her efforts have been rewarded with a. large measure of success. Instruction in Morris dancing is now included in the physic 1 educational code of the elementary schools, so that children can be taught these picturesque measures in school hours.
I ''in the happiest woman in England." Miss Neal told a. rep esentative oi The Observer, "for I see a chance now of children learning to dance. I have six or eight teachers giving instruction in these dances from one end of England to the other, and they are nearly worked to death. A week or two ago 1 was judging six teams of mollis dancers at Newbury, and on Mas 6 1 am judging eight teams at Battersea town Hall. Children taught by my Esperance Club members will also lake part 111 the folk-song and dame competitions at Stra'ford-on-Avon next week during the Shakespeare festival celebrations, some of the teams coming from as Ear north as Hull and as far South as Southampton."
It is Miss Neal's ambition to induce the London County Council to allow her club to give performances of these songs and dances in the parks, say once a week, during the summer months, the music being supplied by the band. By this means, at a, purely nominal cost, the public would become acquainted with these pretty folk relics and share her desire to see them perpetuated.
It is also part of Miss Xeal's scheme that a knowledge of these songs and dances should form a, national bond, not only m England, but for English residents in remote parts of the colonies, where many a dull hour might be enlivened by tripping a lively morns. It was to emphasise this idea that she had a, I nion Jack fixed to the top of the maypole at her holiday hotel for winking girls at Littlehampton, where a class for training teachers was crowded out this Easter. From 7 a.m. until I 1 pin. eai h day of the course these working girl students applied themselves to mastering these old measures at the hotel of the " ( .1 e'll I adv."
At the Kensington Town Hall on I h irsday a special feat uie will he the presence ol several traditional dancers and singers some of whom taught the Esperance Club, and one ol whom last (lain I'd a morris on the King's wedding-day. There wall also he shown regalia d traditional dancers, going Km k at least to the year [700, Several old morris customs in connection with the dances will also figure in the programme.
Miss Ned is going to take a party of monis dancers from the Esperam e Club o\ er to Brussels to dance at the Exhibition.
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