American Travelling Morrice + Dog Days By: Craig Shipp
The American Travelling Morrice Dancers and the Dog Days of Summer made for great family fun in downtown Frederick.
The American Travelling Morrice is comprised of dancers and musicians from across North America and abroad. While many of us perform regularly with teams in our hometowns, we come together for one week each year to form the Travelling Morrice. Since 1976, the group has toured throughout the Northeastern United States and England.
Morris dancing is an English country tradition, with roots in medieval street theatre. For hundreds of years, teams of white-clad men have capered and stepped through the intricate patterns of the dance, clashing wooden sticks and waving handkerchiefs in time to lively traditional tunes.
The American Travelling Morrice continues this tradition for a week each summer, bringing the morris dance to a new geographical region. Since 1976, the men have toured throughout New York, New England and Pennsylvania, with performances at such settings as The House of Seven Gables, Newport Folk Festival, and Old Montreal.
A morris “stand” is a colorful spectacle indeed. The dancers, with small bells strapped to their legs, leap through complex figures accompanied by the music of the accordion, fiddle, or the ancient pipe and tabor. Directing the proceedings with comical grace is the all-licensed Fool, whose antics amuse the onlookers and harass the dancers. Moreover, it was thought in ancient times that morris dancing brought good luck and prosperity to the community.