Some snippets from our very illustrious past hopefully with more to follow.
No-one is too sure, but it is believed Chalice MM first danced out in public in 1973, so this year they are celebrating 50 years of “entertaining” the population of Somerset and beyond with their dancing skills in the Cotswold tradition of Morris Dancing. Congratulations to our founder members Bob, Derek and Rob who are still active members. However this is only part of what makes The Chalice Morris team what it is.
A Short History of Morris Dancing and Chalice Morris
In 1889 Cecil Sharp started to collect and record Morris dances after seeing the Headington Quarry men dance. Although most of the dances that you will see were collected by Sharp, they, and the music, have evolved over the years. The world of the Morris is clearly indebted to Sharp and his work.
During the 19th century, when most villages had their own Morris side, the custom started to wane. This has left only a few places with an unbroken tradition of dancing.
“People always ask about the bells, sticks and hankies. the bells and waved hankies are supposed to ward off evil spirits while the sticks represent ritual combat. Nobody is sure of the origins of Morris dancing, but we believe that it was based on pre-Christian fertility dances. It has elements of circle dancing, resurrection and death and ritual combat deriving from our earliest pagan forebears. The fertility dances (necessarily male) would have taken place on such ancient feast days as the first day of spring, the solstices or midsummer’s day. When the Christians took over the old festivals they would have danced on “high days and holy days. We like to think it works!”
The above quote is attributed to a Chalice member given, when asked by an audience member during a dance out in Glastonbury, pretty well sums up what Morris Dancing is all about!!
Chalice MM have a long and varied history and it would take too much time at this point but over the period of time we will cover many of the historical elements that make up our story. It started in the heady days of the early 1970’s when Morris Dancing was taught in schools and teams formed in schools went on to develop into adult teams.
Many of the dances we perform are in the Cotswold tradition with many from Oxfordshire/Cotswold villages such as Adderbury, Bampton, Headington and Fieldtown and our outfit is also traditional Cotswold style, white shirts and trousers, black shoes and bell pads.
Very prominent is the baldric ( NOT the Tony Robinson character in Blackadder!!) which is two loops of coloured webbing, the colour’s in our case being red and blue, passing over the shoulders and crossing at the middle of your chest and back with a badge or perhaps a rose or other decoration at the crossing points.
With Chalice MM, the emblem on the front of each baldric is personal to each particular individual and the back has a facsimile of The Chalice Well at Glastonbury, talking of which below is a sound sample of Chalice MM performing in that fair town.
For more information the following link is useful: http://www.morrisdances.com/costume.html