Traditional dancing at Sidmouth Folk Festival

PUBLISHED: 15:07 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:52 07 August 2019

Alton Morris. Picture: Paul Strange

Alton Morris. Picture: Paul Strange

Paul Strange

One of the pleasures of the Sidmouth Folk Festival is the opportunity to see and participate in the rich variety of British dance traditions, and Saturday's Dance Spectacular at the Blackmore Marquee showcased some of the finest performers around.

Ouse Washes Molly. Picture: Paul StrangeOuse Washes Molly. Picture: Paul Strange

One of the pleasures of the Sidmouth Folk Festival is the opportunity to see and participate in the rich variety of British dance traditions, and Saturday's Dance Spectacular at the Blackmore Marquee showcased some of the finest performers around.

Cotswold Morris, an athletic style featuring high leaps and energetic jigs, is perhaps the most familiar. It was long regarded as a male preserve, but, happily, times change, and here it was ably represented by the excellent all-female Windsor Morris, as well as two male sides, Five Rivers Morris from Sheffield and Moulton Morris from Northamptonshire.

Even more frenetic is the wild and wonderful Border Morris style from the Welsh borders. Border sides are recognisable by their colourful tattered clothing and face paint and Alton Morris, a mixed side from Hampshire, gave a typically enthusiastic performance, delighting the audience with their energetic leaping and whirling.

Closely related, the lively cross-dressing Molly Dancing of the East Anglian Fens was represented here by festival favourites Ouse Washes Molly who, much to the audience's pleasure, enacted a gruesome tale of murder and retribution.

Ouse Washes Molly. Picture: Paul StrangeOuse Washes Molly. Picture: Paul Strange

Clog Morris, from the textile towns of Lancashire, can be danced by teams or individuals. Sides are usually single-sex, and on Saturday there were performances from the women of Rivington Morris from Bolton, and the men of Earlsdon Morris and women of Earlsdon Step Club from Coventry.

Looking spectacular in their floral headware, Earlsdon Morris Men gave one of the afternoon's stand-out performances with their precision stepping, though the women's sides gave them a run for their money with a delicacy that was hard to beat. Hard, but not impossible, for in a stellar performance solo dancer Toby Bennett took the audience's breath away with two Lakeland dances he choreographed himself.

Another highlight was the Rapper dancing from the steel towns of the North East, featuring flexible steel swords twisted into intricate patterns during their performance. All-male Black Swan Rapper from Leeds excelled here, with the audience roaring their appreciation of the precision and athleticism they displayed, while all-female Star and Shadow Rapper from Newcastle also gave a sterling performance.

DELIA PEMBERTON

Windsor Morris. Picture: Delia PembertonWindsor Morris. Picture: Delia Pemberton

Earlsdon Morris Men. Picture: Paul StrangeEarlsdon Morris Men. Picture: Paul Strange

Windsor Morris. Picture: Delia PembertonWindsor Morris. Picture: Delia Pemberton

Toby Bennett. Picture: Paul StrangeToby Bennett. Picture: Paul Strange

Black Swan Rapper. Picture: Delia PembertonBlack Swan Rapper. Picture: Delia Pemberton

Five Rivers Morris. Picture: Paul StrangeFive Rivers Morris. Picture: Paul Strange

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