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Red Herring Morris is an adult, mixed team, which means that men and women (including high-schoolers who are comfortable socializing with adults) are welcome to give us a try. Like many Boston-area morris teams, Red Herring Morris has a no obligation, three-month trial period for new recruits.

What is Morris Dancing?

Morris dancing is a kind of performance folk dance that originated in England. Think of it as a form of "street theater" performed by dancers in groups of six, with bells on their legs. Red Herring Morris performs "border" morris dances, an energetic and aggressive style that comes from the counties in England near the Welsh border. Like many other forms of performance dance, it's more of a workout than social dancing. It has been described as "the most fun you can have with bells on."

When and where do you perform?

We perform at any event where morris dancers would add to the festivities, particularly at seasonal fairs and morris dancing festivals (called "ales"). Our busiest times are in the late Spring and early Fall.

Is it hard?

Not really, but like any of the performing arts, it takes practice to become good at it. If you can:

  • hop on one foot
  • clap your hands in time to music
  • hold a 30" long stick (about 1" in diameter) and hit someone else's stick with it
  • attend practices regularly
then you can learn to morris dance.

Could I be a morris musician?

If you are a musician, you need to:

  • have a portable instrument that is audible outdoors
  • be able to play short (16-bar) intermediate-level tunes from memory
  • be able to watch and follow the dancers and the other musicians while you play
  • attend practices regularly to get used to playing with the dancers
then you should be able to play for morris dancing. The challenge in playing music for morris dancing is that the music leads the dance, whether you want it to or not. This means musicians need to be able to play the tunes on "auto pilot" (i.e., from memory and without having to think much about the notes) in order to be able to play the music together and in a way that gives the dancers what they need.

How can I join Red Herring?

Talk with a team member and join us for a practice or two. Red Herring Morris is a mixed team, so both men and women are welcome. We practice on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m. in the gym in the basement of the Payson Park Church in Belmont, a gray stone church located at 365 Belmont St., near the intersection of Belmont St. and Trapelo Rd. The church is T-accessible via the #73 bus from Harvard Square. Red Herring Morris welcomes new recruits any time, though the best time to join is in the Fall. Because it takes most people several months to learn all of the figures and movements (or the tunes) well enough to be able to perform the dances, starting in the Fall gives new dancers and musicians enough time to learn several of our dances by Spring.

See our practices page for directions and our schedule. We hope you can join us!



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Last updated: 08/07/14 by Red Herring Morris
Date of access (today's date): 01/16/18

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