Back in Saltaire just in time for this year's Saltaire Festival. The sun shone (well, in between the rain showers anyway!) and the Festival kicked off with much colour and music. These dancers, in front of the Victoria Hall, Saltaire, are our local team of Morris Dancers - Rainbow Morris. (So local in fact that my closest colleague at work is one of the team). They were joined this year by Clogarhythm, a team of dancers from Harrogate.
It was interesting to see the huge difference in the dances of the two traditions. Rainbow Morris dance in the North-West tradition, their dances originating in towns and villages in the north-west of England. They dance to music, with much weaving, swirling and making patterns. They wave sticks (they use bobbins from Salts Mill), hankies and sometimes garlands. (See video). Clogarhythm's dances are from Lancashire and the north-east - clog step or 'heel and toe' dancing, a bit more like tap-dancing. It reminded me of Irish dancing (not surprisingly, as the dances originated in the cotton mills and there were many Irish immigrants in those mills). The dances are mostly danced in line, arms by their sides with lots of intricate footwork (see video). Their clogs are different too, designed to clatter out a rhythm on the ground, emulating the sounds of the machinery in the cotton mills.
I find it all quite fascinating and I'm so glad people are working hard to keep these traditions alive. It's a fun way to keep fit too (and you have to be fit!). I once tried it ... but found I have no sense of ryhthm at all.