Glossary of Morris Terms
As with any other specialized activity, there is a vocabulary of Morris terms to describe various aspects of the dancing.
- ale - a gathering of dancers. These are usually non-competetive, although teams generally want to show off their best dances. So named after the official beverage at these gatherings.
- caller - the person, generally at the front left of the set, who calls out the figures of the dance.
- chorus - the part of each dance which distinguishes it from others in the same tradition. Generally, a dance is either a set dance, in which all dancers do the chorus together, or a corner dance, in which two dancers at a time, the two sets of diagonal corners and then the pair in the middle, dance the steps. The choruses alternate with the figures, q.v.
- figure - a set of patterned steps which the whole set does together. Each tradition has its own set of figures (there is considerable overlap between traditions), which are generally the same in all of the dances of that tradition.
- jig - a dance for one or two dancers.
- kit - the costume worn by the dancers. Each team designs its own kit, which is usually based on white shirt and pants or knickers, and a colored vest or tunic or baldrics (ribbons crossed over the chest), and the bell pads, all decorated with bright ribbons.
- set - the group of dancers performing a dance. In Cotswold, generally six.
- team - an organized group of dancers who rehearse and perform together. Also known as a side. Teams may be all-male, all-female, or mixed. There is a certain amount of carping about which of these formats is traditional, and therefore "correct."
- tradition - a particular style associated with a particular town. Each town in the Cotswolds developed its own style, related to the general Morris style, but with its own versions of steps, figures, etc. Thus, the Bledington tradition, the Bampton tradition, etc.
- white shoe/black shoe - terms used to describe the styles of various teams. White shoe teams tend to stress an energetic, athletic (show-offy) style, black shoe teams a more traditional, sedate (stodgy) style. The term derived from the contrast between leather-shod older teams and new, upstart, sneaker-sporting teams, although the actual color of the shoes has nothing to do with it.
The information on this page was provided by Connie Walters. Created 10/1/94.