Clodagh Chapman remembered

Clodagh Chapman who was an original member of Bury Fair (founded in 1977, but originally part of Hageneth Morris) and a founder member of the Haughley Hoofers died in June.  Her funeral will be at the Bury St Edmunds Crematorium in Risby at 9am on Monday 2nd July 2018.  Colourful clothes and Morris kit should be worn to celebrate her 95years.

Clodagh (back right) with Bury Fair in 1981

(photo from the East Anglian Daily Times December 2010)

I have known Clodagh since her days with Bury Fair and in 2014 I wrote the piece below for the Mardles Magazine and re-publish it today in her memory.  She is the only person I know who created a dance and an embryonic “tradition”.  Like many new dances some worked and some didn’t but Clodagh had one big “hit”; Fires of August which is still being danced today by people who have never heard of Clodagh Chapman.  The Suffolk Weaver is still also danced by Bury Fair but has not been picked up by other sides as much.

I saw “Fires of August” (in the “Buxhall tradition”) performed four days after she died, not in her memory; no-one dancing it knew she had died.  It was danced because it is a good dance (a bit like Brighton Camp, Stanton Harcourt) and can be made into an entertaining race between musicians and dancers.  Few who dance it will know that it was written by Clodagh in the 1980s.  It was originally performed by Bury Fair but has migrated to Little Egypt Morris Men and Westrafelda and maybe others besides.  Hageneth practiced it and I remember performing it once on the Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds.  Unfortunately we never mastered it and it disappeared from our programme.  You really need to go to the Little Egypt summer solstice event to see it danced with enthusiasm and at a pace which always impresses the audience.

“It’s not just skipping around waving handkerchiefs”- Clodagh Chapman remembers creating dances.

From Mardles Magazine September 2014 

Read more: Clodagh Chapman remembered

Dancing for All - Molly Dance Workshops with Milkmaid Molly

 

Molly Dance Workshops for Milkmaid Molly Buddies

with Alison Giles from the Cambridge Molly side  Gog Magog

 October 18th, November 22nd and December 14th from 7.30 to 9.30pm

Risbygate Sports Club, Westley Road, Bury St Edmunds. IP33 3RR

The workshops are for any Buddies or potential Buddies who would like to learn new dances or anyone who would like to give Molly dance a go. All are welcome to come along and learn this local tradition.

 Information from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Gill on 01284 767476.

 

Gog Magog dancing in Ely on Mark Jones Day January 2018

About Milkmaid Molly

Nearly seven years ago, in January 2012, a new Morris dancing side was launched in Bury St Edmunds which filled a gap in the Morris dance family in West Suffolk.  At the time there was a good representation of the dances of the west and northwest of England with Bury Fair and Hageneth dancing the hankies and sticks dances of the Cotswold; Haughley Hoofers, with their clogs, dancing Northwest and Green Dragon’s boisterous stick-wielding Border dance.  The plan was to create a side with a different tradition to avoid standing on the toes of these well-established West Suffolk dancers. So Molly dancing was the choice, Molly being the tradition closest to home, the tradition coming out from the Cambridgeshire Fens.

Gill Bosley and Graham leading the Milkmaid Molly procession at Ely Festival

But there was another difference, this was to be a side that was inclusive: to involve people with disabilities, to have regular dance practices to learn dances and to socialise and to be able to perform alongside other Morris sides, in other words, to enjoy the whole Morris experience.  

Milkmaid Molly (named from the well-known Milkmaid Folk Club) has a membership of 12 Mollies who have learning difficulties and an equal number of Buddies who dance or play with them. Dances are chosen or created to enable all the Mollies to fully participate. The Buddies also learn more complex dances and when these are performed the Mollies provide the instrumental accompaniment with the musicians. A generous donation of £50 from the line-dance group of a previous Buddy was used to purchase more instruments which were given their first airing on 23rd September at the Bury Hub Fest in Hollow Road.

Milkmaid Molly now have regular bookings to dance every year at Ely Folk Festival and Euston Rural Pastimes and may have been spotted amongst the Morris throng dancing in Bury town centre on Green Dragon’s 25th anniversary celebration in September 2018.

Gill Bosley

Milkmaid Molly

17th October 2018

 

 

Oxblood Molly Day of Dance 17th March 2018

The Beast from the East was back!  Russian snow!  Just the weather for a day of dance!  There is a saying in Suffolk that “there’s nothing between us and the Urals”.  For once local lore and the Met Office agreed: the sun was not to shine on Oxblood Molly’s 4th Day of Dance in Halesworth.

Oxblood Molly (photo John Heaser)

Read more: Oxblood Molly Day of Dance 17th March 2018

Mark Jones Day of Dance 2018

“Me pals were all agog at the kit of the mollies, misfits and glorious champions hailing from Good Easter to the Washes and who got the blood racing on the Mark Jones Day of Dance in January.” 

How many references to Molly sides can you find in the above sentence?  Contrived I know, but somewhere you will find references to all the molly sides who were dancing on that day.  No prizes for getting them all right. 

Some years ago Cotswold Morris and Molly dancer Mark Jones tragically lost his life in a car accident and this Day of Dance, organised by Ouse Washes Molly Dancers in and around Ely, is regularly held in his memory.  With Ouse Washes, gathering to mark the occasion were Gog Magog, Good Easter Molly Gang, Kit Witches, Mepal Molly, Misfits, Old Glory, Oxblood and Seven Champions – Molly dancers all.  One of Mark’s favourite songs was “Rolling Home” and at the first stop this was the music for a massed molly dance “Birds a Building”.

                      

Ouse Washes get things started at the Mark Jones Day of Molly Dance

Read more: Mark Jones Day of Dance 2018

Belles of London City to join the “Men only” Morris Ring? I don’t think so.

The Belles of London City

The Morris Ring founded in 1934 may not survive to celebrate its 100th birthday as a fundamental change to its constitution is being proposed which will end the "men only" dancer rule.

Adam Garland, recent past Squire of the Ring, wrote in the “Morris Ring Circular” magazine in July last year with his reflections on his two years in office (2014 -16).  He reminded readers that Morris has a long history in England and has evolved during that period.  In the twentieth century the Morris Ring saw itself as the custodian of the Morris tradition but in the twenty-first century, under Adam's leadership, it "permitted" Ring sides to include women musicians and then ensured "that Ring Meetings should be open to all members of all clubs".  Adam argued in his article that the Ring should go further as a “change in the Ring constitution to welcome women dancers as members of the Morris Ring is long overdue”.

At the time I wondered why any side with women dancers would want to join the (almost) all male Morris Ring; surely existing sides are happy to join one of the alternative organisations, the Morris Federation or Open Morris and with these alternatives why would a new side want to join the Ring. 

Read more: Belles of London City to join the “Men only” Morris Ring? I don’t think so.

Milkmaid Molly - "Buddies" and Musicians needed

Milkmaid Molly founded in 2012 is part of Milkmaid Folk Arts, a Community Interest Company, offering a place of welcome and acceptance for people with disabilities and those without who meet on equal terms and find companionship. The Milkmaid’s ethos is to support vulnerable and disadvantaged people to build a life that is both fulfilling and rewarding through the joy of music, art and performance.

 

We meet at Station Hill Social Club, 1 Station Hill, Bury St Edmunds, IP32 6AD on the first Thursday of each month promptly at 07.30 pm and finish by 09.00 pm. Both the Buddies and the Mollies would be so grateful if you could come along and help for just an hour and a half once a month. We are also looking for more musicians. Next meeting 1st March 2018.

Milkmaid Molly have a core of people with Learning Disabilities who choose to be called the ‘Mollies’ and a group of dance “Buddies” who assist the Mollies. The idea has proved so popular that we have a large number of Mollies but need more Buddies. Assisting with the Mollies does not mean you have to be in any way super fit or have any dance experience, Buddies just help with steering in the right direction when we perform very simply adapted Molly dances. The Buddies have more complicated routines of their own and during the evening to give the Mollies a rest from dancing we invite them together with our regular musicians to play for us. The Mollies enjoy playing percussion instruments, or in some cases their own guitars or mouth organs. Every practice we have fun, lots of laughs and have all made some good friends.

If you are fleet of foot and wish to take part in more intricate dances please come along on the third Thursday of the month as well when the Buddies have a practice alone concentrating on more complicated dances. During the summer both branches of the team have performed together Euston Rural Pastimes Country Fair, Ely Folk Festival and Oxjam.

If you wish to join us please ring Gill 01284 767476, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., look on line at www.milkmaidmusic.co.uk or just turn up on the night we would love to meet you.

Jan Robinson; Milkmaid Molly

Milkmaid Molly performing at Ely Folk Festival 2013

The 2017 Morris Census

The 2017 Morris Census; The Results are in.

 During 2017 all UK morris sides and as many foreign sides as possible were sent a detailed census form.  The object was to try to compile a picture of the current state of morris dancing.  The term “morris dancing” is used in its widest sense and embraces all forms of English traditional dance: Cotswold, Border, Molly, Northwest, Garland, Mumming, Rapper, Clog Step, Longsword, Appalachian, English Country Dance/Playford and Stave.  The 798 sides who replied included both UK and foreign sides.

 The results were sent to all participating sides at the end of 2017 and they are available to a wider audience at the website www.morriscensus.uk​ .  The site is interactive and easy to use, giving information not only for the UK, but also for New Zealand and Australia, the US and Canada and for international sides.  You can look up your Morris organisation and your form of dance and by clicking on the appropriate column find the 2014 figures too. 

Some of the conclusions.

Read more: The 2017 Morris Census

Suffolk Folk

Norfolk Folk Association

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