Morris Dance Styles
Morris isn't just a single dance style: over its 600 year history it has changed and
evolved into several regional traditions.
Cotswold has its roots in the south Midlands and is probably what first comes to
mind when people think of Morris dancing: men in white trousers and shirts, with
hankies and sticks. Because of its complex footwork, Cotswold is probably the
most difficult style to learn.
North West Morris
Unlike other forms of morris, North West morris (from the
Manchester/Lancashire region) was mainly a processional dance. Firstly in the
annual processions that carried rushes for the church floor, later in the
processions for Queen Victoria's Jubilee that developed into annual town
Dancers typically wear clogs. Men often wear black knee breeches and a white
shirt with a sash. Decorated hats are popular. Women's teams are more likely to
wear a 'mill-girl' style costume.
Border Morris began on the English side of the Welsh border as dances done by
very low-income workers to raise a bit of money. Dances were very simple and
costumes made up of whatever the dancers had to decorate their shirts with.
Modern teams almost all wear heavy tatter jackets, a development of the rags and
ribbons that used to be pinned to the shirts. Like the jackets, the dances have
evolved a lot. Nearly all the Border dances performed have modern
choreography, to produce something more interesting and complex than the
A traditional dance from Yorkshire that uses wooden or metal swords held by the
dancers at both ends. At the end, the swords are woven into a pattern, often a six-
pointed star. Has no connection to Scottish sword dancing.
A dance that evolved from longsword when flexible steel came along. Originates
in the Northumberland/Durham area, which is still its stronghold today. The
swords can be bent without damaging them, and this allows the dancers to get
closer together, producing a fast, complex dance. Many of the historical dancers
Not 'morris' per se, but a style of high energy step-dancing that originated in the
Appalachian mountains in the USA. Usually performed to the music of a string