I am starting a new project – combining Morris dancing – an English folk dance – with contact improvisation to produce a number of ‘sketches’. Dance artist Naomi Morris (yes, that really is her name) and I have already started jamming ideas. The working title is ‘Morris Remade’. I’m not quite sure where this is leading us … !
On the funding application for this project to Oxford Dance Forum, I wrote:
‘The two dance forms – Morris Dance and Contact Improvisation are contrasting in their moments – the former, rhythmical and step based; and the other fluid and sensorial (melodic). The two dances come from different traditions – one from England and other from the United States. It could be understood as dance in different societal forms – and possibly at differing times: rigid and ordered; chaotic and corporeal. Similarly, there are the differing political traditions: communal for English folk dancing, and high capitalism for the US’s contact improvisation. Although both dance forms are folk dance.
‘Morris dancing has tremendous public recognition which should spark interest and discussion. It may also lead to greater public recognition of contact improvisation. Morris dancing is typically danced on May morning in Oxford.
‘Working within the timing and score set out in a Morris tune, this dance – Morris Remade will be composed and choreographed. The music may be halted and the dancing continue in silence, or slowed or changed in some way so that the blending of dances can be dramatic and arresting.’
Naomi and I are working with Choreographer Jennifer Stokes on this project. It could go in many directions – Dada perhaps? A dance Readymade? Or maybe into comedy – Comedy Morris? It’s going to be fun wherever we end up!
[Top photo: Naomi Morris flying; Andrew Wood basing at Creative Lab, 8 November 2017, Oxford Playhouse. Photo by Jenny Parrot.]