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Prague 2014

Background to the Side

There is no known history of Morris dancing in the area prior to 1978.  The side was originally formed as an all female side, largely from the partners of the 'Christmas Boys', as a means of providing more entertainment for the growing audiences, as they felt that the play was getting more popular, with larger audiences attending.

Winterbourn Down Border Morris dancers use music which is suited to their step-hop style, namely traditional hornpipes, jigs and polkas, although there are times when these are adapted to match a particular dance.

The dances themselves are put together using 3 or 4 different 'verses' separated by a common 'chorus'. All of the dancers are involved in their creation and refinement.

Movements and interaction may be invented and tried out on practise nights or they may be patterns admired and plagiarised from other sides which have been seen while on dancing out days.

In most dances, the dancers carry long sticks which are used in the 'choruses' to emphasise the rhythm of the music by being clashed against one another or by hitting the ground. They may also be carried high in the air at the beginning or end of a dance as a salute to the audience.

Bells are worn on legs, arms and clothing to help define the rhythm and pace of the proceedings, and they give off a cheery jingling sound.

We also perform a broom dance, keeping alive a local tradition which stretches back at least to the early years of the last century.

The side enjoys a mixture of regular events, amongst those being a trip at dawn on May 1st to Brandon Hill in Bristol to welcome in the summer. The local village's May Day Fete is supported each year, and the side usually attends Upton-on-Severn Folk Festival. At the end of the year, some of the male members of the side perform a Mummers' play in many of our local pubs, the same play being shown on Boxing Day to a large crowd in Winterbourn Down village.

Money collected from these events is donated to local Charities, for the past few years to Paul's Place (www.paulsplace.org.uk) which helps to enhance the lives of physically disabled people. Outings are shared with other local sides, visiting pubs and sites in and around Bristol, and the side is often approached to dance at schools, clubs and shopping centres.

We're a mixed bunch; we have a nursing auxiliary, an occupational therapist, a dental hygienist and a doctor, so we have a good coverage for any medical emergencies. Amongst our merry band we also have a software engineer, a computer systems manager and various people involved in the learning field, such as student, adult education tutor, learning support assistant, retired lecturer, teacher, caterer lecturer and swimming instructor. Other members include a research manager, housewife, builder/photographer, salesperson and railway guard. If you feel that we don't have your profession covered, then come and join us. On the other hand if you feel you fit right in with one already mentioned then come along also. See our diary for practise and dance out sessions.

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