Phoenix Morris Dances
THE DANCES OF PHOENIX MORRIS
We have a collection of approximately 32 dances, but we do not use them all - we like to have a choice so that we can vary our repertoire from time to time. Some dances are dropped, while occasionally new ones are added, and we also reintroduce existing ones that we have not danced for a while.
STRETTON on the FOSSE
This tradition was collected by Cecil Sharp but never published by him, probably because it was fairly similar to another tradition. However, the dances were discovered by John Cutting, at the time Foreman of Lord Paget's Morris of Uxbridge, whilst looking through some manuscripts at Cecil Sharp House when doing some research into Morris History. He originally choreographed these dances for Lord Paget's, who were a Border Morris Side, but they were never used, so eventually he kindly offered them to Phoenix as they were from a Cotswold tradition. Since then, Grand Union Morris have also started dancing this tradition.
The Stretton dances are: Shepherds’ Hey (a stick dance), Old Molly Oxford, Black Joke, and Maid of the Mill (hankie dances) and The Buffoon (a knee-slapping Dance)
At present we perform the first three of these dances.
The Bledington tradition is one that the mixed Cotswold Sides in the area tried to standardise in the 1980s so that the dances could be performed by all Sides en masse at joint events.
In some ways, Morris is evolving rapidly, and we are trying to achieve some form of compatibility between Sides.
Regular Bledington-style dances now performed by Phoenix are Black Joker and Young Collins, which are traditional stick dances, plus 2 dances based on the Bledington tradition: Three Musketeers (collected by us from a visiting American Side) and one of our own dances, Park Lodge. The only Bledington hankie dance we now occasionally perform is Saturday Night.
Other Bledington dances Phoenix have performed in the past are William & Nancy, Cuckoo’s Nest and Idbury Hill, but at present these are not in our repertoire.
Adderbury tradition dances that have been performed by Phoenix over the years include Black Joke, Betty Windsor and The Bell, which are hankie dances, and Beaux of London City (aka “Shooting”), Bluebells of Scotland, Lads a-bunchem, Postman’s Knock, Sweet Jenny Jones and Constant Billy, which are all stick dances.
The Bell is a dance which was adapted by Phoenix in the ’70s and then improved upon in the early ’90s to make it a very attractive and popular dance.
Adderbury forms the largest collection in our dance list.
The Bampton Tradition comes from Bampton-in-the-Bush to the South-west of Oxford.
The only dance we perform at present is Over the Hill, which is danced in quite an unusual style we; collected it from Greenwood Morris. This dance was performed by Halfcut Morris and was one of the dances that came with them when they joined Phoenix.
The other dances we have performed in this tradition are Highland Mary (aka Pram Pushing or Chicken Chasing) and Bonny Green Garters, but neither of these is danced at present. They are both from the Grand Union style.
In the past we have performed other dances from this tradition such as Shave the Donkey and Constant Billy.
UPTON UPON SEVERN
These dances are in fact originally Border dances.
Cotswold versions were devised many years ago and Phoenix dance both the stick and hankie version.
We do two dances in this tradition: Ring o’ Bells &Vandals of Hammerwich.
We can dance these with 6 or 8 dancers, having adapted a six-person version by introducing a revised hey.
The only ‘Fieldtown’ dance that is performed by Phoenix at present is Balance the Straw, which was written in the style of Fieldtown by the original Phoenix in 1955. We used to dance Dearest Dickey from the Fieldtown tradition, but this was dropped in the 1980s before the Side became mixed.
The ‘Batchworth’ dances: these are a collection of our own dances, and are not a tradition as such as the dances do not follow the same pattern.
Based on Cotswold Morris lines, the following dances are performed:
- A three-person two-stick dance called Speed the Phoenix; an eight-person two-stick dance called Batchworth Stick, and a 6-person stick dance called The Stomp.
- Two hankie dances that can be danced by any multiple of 4 people: Portsmouth and Phoenix Waves. Our most recent dances to be added to the Batchworth collection are The Stomp hankie dance (based on the stick dance but with a different chorus) and finally Order of the Phoenix, a 6-person stick dance.
Park Lodge, although one of our own dances, is danced in the style of Bledington.
Although Portsmouth and The Stomp stick dance were choreographed
by Phoenix, they are danced by other Sides throughout the country.
ODDS & …
Finally, our repertoire is added to by individual dances taken from different traditions collected from other Morris Sides. In the main these are: Lollipop Man from the Ducklington tradition, Saturday Night, a circle dance adapted from the Bucknell tradition, Lincolnshire Poacher, collected from Ouse William Morris, and North 21, a stick dance from Great Northern Eclectics.