To some Morris Dancing may look like a little bit of organised chaos, and in that they would be correct. Each region throughout England developed their own particular forms of Morris Dancing with varying tools, steps and patterns forming the dances. Within these regions each village would also have more subtle differences in forms and styles known as Traditions. Sound and Fury Dance both Cotswold and Rapper, with a little Border thrown in for good measure.
While Lionel Bacon noted at least 23 village specific Cotswold Traditions, Sound and Fury currently attempt just a handful. Bampton, a gentle yet manly single step tradition and Sherbourne, a slightly rowdier backwards double step tradition (with a high kick and a flip or two if the right people are dancing!).
Making a frequent guest appearance in our repertoire is a favoured Border dance called Ockington. The Border tradition came from the Welsh border region and is typically performed wearing rag coats and blacked out faces. In the past the side has also danced Lichfield (along with Longborough and Elm City), and briefly dabbled in Brackley.
Rapper is an exciting form of Sword Dancing which features flexible double handled swords and a large amount of weaving in and out of the dancers. The earliest record of Sword dancing is from the Tyne Valley region of England in the early 1700’s using the more rigid long swords. With the invention of the flexible Rapper sometime in the 1800’s the Rapper sword dances developed about 20 miles away while the longsword dances died out. It has been suggested that due to the expense of steel in this time frame it is more likely that the Rapper was improvised from old mining tools.
Rapper dances involve a very fast paced close knit team )and a top notch musician!). With all the bobbing and weaving ducking and jumping, flinging and spinning, it’s a wonder nobody loses a finger!