Morris dancing has been associated with May festivals for hundreds of years and can be seen at folklore and heritage events particularly on May Day. This year I wasn't able to get to any event to see a local team, or a side as it's called, perform traditional dances accompanied by the band of musicians, but I took some photos when at a local event during the national Heritage Day which takes place each year in September and share them here. The Sheffield City Morris Men provided some entertainment on the forecourt outside the Cathedral with the handkerchief, stick dance and others in their repertoire.
Who were these ladies strolling across the forecourt?
In fact they were members of one of the heritage groups dressed in period costume. There was a lot to see - traditional craft displays and visitors could get involved in activities including a tour up into the bell tower to see how the bell ringers perform the service of bell ringing.
More entertainment followed when the huge figures standing in the forecourt suddenly started moving and then began to perform a slow dance again accompanied by another band of musicians. The figures are called War and Peace and are examples of processional dancing figures built in the Catalan style by a Catalan craft maker. These types of figures were used in religious and civic processions, but the practice died out and was only revived in England in the 1970s when one or two were made. The craft of making such figures for special events is more common in France, Spain, The Netherlands and Canada. When not being used for performances at festivals in England and abroad the figures can be seen in Kelham Island Industrial Museum in Sheffield.
Here are 5 facts about these huge dancing figures :-
1. Each figure called a giant is 4.4. metres tall (14 feet).
2 Each figure is carried on the head and shoulders by one person called a porter and catchers stand by to provide safety for the ones performing and for the audience.
3. Each figure weighs about 9 stones (58 kg).
4. Dressing and assembling takes 30-40 minutes.
5. The porters are changed after each dance to give them a much-needed rest!
As always wishing you a good day and a peaceful weekend!