The two videos on this page are of dances from a tradition known as Cotswold Morris – that is, they are dances from villages in and around the Cotswold Hills in the English Midlands. It is a lively and energetic form of dance so the best dancers you will see are young enough to be able to leap and 'caper' athletically.

Cotswold dancers usually wear bells which emphasise the rhythm of the music and which may have been thought to have magical properties. Large handkerchiefs or sticks are used in many of the dances.

Morris Dancing is a very old form of dance which goes back to the Middle Ages or earlier. No one knows if there was ever any real significance or meaning behind the dance. At one time people considered that some Morris dancing was used as a fertility rite which magically helped the crops to grow. Early pictures and accounts of Morris dancers show them wearing ribbons and bells and their musician playing a pipe and tabor.

There are other more recent styles of Morris dancing. These include: North West Morris which is danced in clogs and includes processional dances from northern towns, Border Morris (from the Welsh border) in which the dancers blacken their faces and dance boisterously with whoops and wild stick clashing, and Molly dancing from the Fens - comical stylised interpretations of country dances danced by plough boys.

Today Morris is commonly performed outdoors for the entertainment of spectators by a group of dancers (a Morris 'side') who have spent time together learning and practising.

The Dance Formation

Nearly all Cotswold Morris dances are danced by groups of 6 dancers. The team of dancers is usually known as a side.

The linked Formation diagram shows how the dancers stand when they are about to start the dance.

The 6 dancers are arranged in two columns of 3.

At the beginning of the dance they face up towards the musician.

NB - In the video of Webley Twizzle (below) the camera is in the musician's place and so the fiddler is (unusually) at the bottom of the set!

The dancer at the top of the set on the left hand side is the Number 1 dancer.
No.1 dancer usually calls out the figures of the dances to remind everyone.
This dancer is the leader of the dance.

Number 1’s partner stands on the other side of the set and is number 2.
Numbers 1 and 2 are often called “tops” for simplicity.

The two dancers in the middle are frequently called “middles” rather than 3 and 4.

The bottom two dancers (numbers 5 & 6) are known as “bottoms”.

Lads-a-Bunchum

In this video a Huddersfield 'side' called
Dog Rose Morris
performs Lads-a-Bunchum,
a Cotswold
stick dance from the village of Adderbury.

Click here to learn more about the dance LADS-A-BUNCHUM
including
the sequence of the figures and
the stepping and sticking
with detailed descriptions, video demonstrations and music notation.
This dance is suitable for beginners. The explanations also help you to learn what to look for when watching a dance side.


Webley Twizzle
In this video
Dog Rose Morris
perform
their own adaptation of an energetic dance with a leapfrog chorus:

Webley Twizzle
from the village of Bampton.


More about Cotswold morris
Help with learning and teaching Morris
Notes for musicians
GO TO How to dance Lads-a-Bunchum

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