Sticks, sheet music, tambourine for Morris dancing

Smashing sticks with the local Morris dancers

“Do you think you might want to give Morris dancing a try while you’re in Lauzun?” asked Sue before I arrived in France.

“But isn’t that a British type of folk dancing?” I responded, confused. I quickly read up on Morris dancing online, and yes, it appeared to involve English people dressing up in white stockings and striking each other with sticks.

“Sure,” answered Sue, “But there’s a Morris troupe right here in the village called ‘Les Tartes de Pommes.’ I’m part of  the group and I think they could use an extra while I’m away.”

“Besides,” she added “It’s a good workout.”

Deb of the Morris dance troupe in Lauzun, France
Deb is a multi-talented musician who also leads the Morris dance troupe in Lauzun, France.

The first night I arrived in Lauzun, Sue introduced me to Deb, the leader, choreographer, and squeezebox-player for this French village’s Morris dancing scene. Deb handed me a tambourine and asked if I’d like to keep the beat while she and flutist Cathy played accompaniment to six women who skipped, circled, and … struck each other with sticks.

“Do you think you’d like to give it a go?” asked Deb.

“Um,” I stammered, “Maybe next week when I’m not so jet-lagged…?”

Next week is now tonight. In a few hours I’ll share a car with Lauzun’s U.K. ex-pats and drive to a practice space in the village of Bournel.

In preparation, Deb has emailed me a link to a video of the Beltane Border Morris dancers performing a fierce, steam-punk-rock dance that they created called The Huntress (video, 2:41):

At the practice, Deb explained that the white-stockinged dancers I was thinking of perform Cotswold Morris, whereas the Tartes du Pomme  and the Beltane dancers are Border Morris.

I may have heard Deb ask if I could learn the dance. But I’m hoping she means just the drumming part, which seems like a pretty good workout on its own.

 

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UR

Writer, rider, traveller.

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