8 agosto Piazza Carducci, ore 21

Morris Dancers. Spettacolo folkloristico

24/07/2003 in Manifestazioni
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Di Luca Delpozzo

Mor­ris Danc­ing” è una dan­za rit­uale folk­loris­ti­ca che veni­va orig­i­nar­i­a­mente dal­la regione di Oxford. Le danze face­vano parte degli antichi fes­ti­val dei Celti.Già nel 1200 si han­no notizie di per­for­mance di Mor­ris e Shake­speare cita la dan­za in “Tut­to è bene quel che finisce bene”. All’inizio del 1700 re Gia­co­mo cita ques­ta dan­za nel “Book of Sport” e la definisce un diver­ti­men­to per i giorni fes­tivi ed in par­ti­co­lare per la fes­ta del pri­mo maggio.I bal­leri­ni indos­sano cam­i­cie bianche, pan­taloni neri o bianchi con scarpe nere. Si addob­bano con pic­coli cam­pan­el­li intorno alle ginoc­chia, por­tano faz­zo­let­ti e bas­toni come sim­bo­lo del con­fronta tra inver­no e d estate.La per­for­mance è ese­gui­ta con musi­ca dal vivo con stru­men­ti tradizion­ali: vio­la, tam­buro, fis­ar­mon­i­ca, zampogna.Le can­zoni sono tutte tradizion­ali e ogni dan­za è accom­pa­g­na­ta da una melo­dia apposita.Although the link between Druids and mega­lith­ic sites is ten­u­ous at best, there seems to be no rea­son to doubt that both the cel­e­bra­tion of ancient Celtic fes­ti­vals and the rit­u­als per­formed at stone cir­cles and oth­er mega­lith­ic sites includ­ed danc­ing in one form or anoth­er. Evi­dence for the lat­ter is vir­tu­al­ly non-exis­tent, but folk­lore and oth­er clues sug­gest, for exam­ple, that dance may have been per­formed at Stone­henge if only through the sug­ges­tive descrip­tion by Geof­frey of Mon­mouth, writ­ing in the 12th cen­tu­ry, who calls Stone­henge the Dance of the Giants (chorea gigan­tum). Much lat­er, Mor­ris danc­ing used to take place around the ancient bar­row at St. Weonards in Here­ford­shire. Mor­ris danc­ing, in fact, has been claimed to be a rem­nant of a pre-Chris­t­ian Celtic, or Druidic, fer­til­i­ty dance.Morris Dancers out­side The Old Neigh­bour­hood Inn, Chal­ford Hill, Glouces­ter­shire, Eng­land Mor­ris danc­ing also fig­ures among the evi­dence in sup­port of the claim that danc­ing formed part of the cel­e­bra­tion of Celtic fes­ti­vals. Among the ear­li­est ref­er­ences to Mor­ris danc­ing are those made by Shake­speare, who, in All’s Well that Ends Well (II.ii.21), makes it clear that the Mor­ris dance was com­mon­ly per­formed on May Day (May 1). That Mor­ris danc­ing was asso­ci­at­ed with May Day cel­e­bra­tions in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry is also sug­gest­ed through King James I’s Book of Sports which per­mit­ted among the amuse­ments to be enjoyed on a Sun­day the con­tin­u­a­tion of “May games, Whit­sun ales and mor­ris dances, and the set­ting up of May-poles…” The Whit­sun ales referred are a beer pro­duced for Whit­sun (or Whit­sun­day, cel­e­brat­ed in the Chris­t­ian cal­en­dar as Pen­ta­cost) which Shake­speare, in Hen­ry V (II.iv.18), says was also a time when Mor­ris dances were performed.The ori­gins of Mor­ris danc­ing are lost in the mists of time. It sur­vives today as a form of folk­dance per­formed in the open air in vil­lages in rur­al Eng­land by groups of spe­cial­ly cho­sen and trained men and women. It is a rit­u­al rather than a social dance which the dancers take seri­ous­ly. It is felt that the dances have a mag­ic pow­er and serve both to bring luck and to ward of evil. Attempts to uncov­er the ori­gins of Mor­ris danc­ing have focused most­ly on the name. Some believe Mor­ris to be a cor­rup­tion of the word “Moor­ish” and there­fore to have orig­i­nat­ed in Africa. In order to explain how African danc­ing could crop up in Eng­land, it has been sug­gest­ed that back Moor­ish cap­tives were brought back from the Holy Land by cru­saders. Or, alter­na­tive­ly, it has been sug­gest­ed that John of Gaunt (1340–1399), Duke of Lan­cast­er, fol­low­ing the fail­ure of his cam­paign in Spain to claim the king­ship of Castile and Leon, returned to Eng­land with Span­ish Moors as captives.In this sense, the word “mor­ris” would seem to be relat­ed to “morisco”, which is a form of court dance per­formed in Italy. How­ev­er, Joseph Strutt (1749–1802), in his Sports and Pas­times of the Peo­ple of Eng­land, doubts this was the ori­gin of Mor­ris danc­ing, stat­ing that “the Morisco or Moor dance is exceed­ing­ly dif­fer­ent from the morris-dance…being per­formed with the cas­tanets, or rat­tles, at the end of the fin­gers, and not with bells attached to var­i­ous parts of the dress.” Oth­er­wise, Strutt sug­gests that the mor­ris-dance orig­i­nat­ed from the “Fool’s Dance” (trace­able to the 14th cen­tu­ry), in which the dancers dressed in the man­ner of the court fool, and from which can be traced the bells used by mor­ris dancers. If Mor­ris is a cor­rup­tion of a sim­i­lar-sound­ing word, it could equal­ly well be “moor­ish” in ref­er­ence to, at the time of Shake­speare, bog­gy land, and lat­er used in con­nec­tion with moor­land or heath­land. It has also been sug­gest­ed that the word Mor­ris is derived from the Latin word “moris” mean­ing tra­di­tion or cus­tom. Then again, it might be derived from the game “merelles”, forms of which were called ninepen­ny mor­ris” or “nine men’s mor­ris” (referred to, for exam­ple, by Shake­speare in A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream, II, i, 98). On the con­ti­nent, the name was applied to the step­ping, dance-like game of ‘hop-scotch.’ Attempts to dis­cov­er the ori­gins of the dances per­formed have revealed a gen­er­al con­nec­tion with oth­er rit­u­al folk­dances else­where in the world such as san­ti­a­gos, moriscas, and mat­achi­nas of the Mediter­ranean and Latin Amer­i­ca, and the calusari of Roma­nia. The ulti­mate source of this type of danc­ing, how­ev­er, remains hid­den. It is sus­pect­ed, how­ev­er, to be of pagan ori­gin per­formed most like­ly as part of ancient fer­til­i­ty rites. The music and dances were per­haps intend­ed to attract ben­e­fi­cial influ­ences, while the bells, flut­ter­ing hand­ker­chiefs, and clash­ing sticks served as the means to scare away malev­o­lent spirits.Traditional Mor­ris danc­ing is today asso­ci­at­ed with the Cotswolds, a region of Eng­land locat­ed between Oxford and the Welsh bor­der. Cotswold Mor­ris is danced in sets of six dancers arranged in two rows of three. For some dances, hand­ker­chiefs are held in each hand, while for oth­er dances short sticks are car­ried, and struck against each oth­er or against those of a part­ner. Part of the cos­tume includes bells, usu­al­ly worn tied below the knees. Cos­tume varies from one Mor­ris team, or ‘set’, to anoth­er, with each vil­lage also pro­duc­ing its own steps and dances. Mor­ris men usu­al­ly wear a white shirt, white trousers or dark breech­es, and black shoes. Coloured sash­es or baldrics worn over one or both shoul­ders, or a waist­coat, serve to dis­tin­guish dif­fer­ent teams. The Stroud Mor­ris Dancers in Stroud, Glouces­ter­shire, for exam­ple, wear white trousers and shirts with red and green sash­es (the colours of Stroud).Other teams, such as that danc­ing in front of the Old Neigh­bour­hood Inn at Chal­ford Hill in Glouces­ter­shire, are dressed in dark breech­es and bowler hats. A vari­ant of Cotswold Mor­ris is Bor­der Mor­ris, asso­ci­at­ed with the Welsh bor­der coun­ties, which have sides of four, or six, or eight men who dark­en their faces and wear ‘rags’ and dark trousers. Bor­der Mor­ris is danced more vig­or­ous­ly than Cotswold Mor­ris and involves much clash­ing of sticks. Cotswold Mor­ris is usu­al­ly per­formed from May 1 to Sep­tem­ber, while Bor­der Mor­ris is tra­di­tion­al­ly per­formed in the win­ter months. Anoth­er form is North West Mor­ris, in the North West of Eng­land, which is more of a pro­ces­sion­al dance with sides of at least nine men wear­ing clogs.

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