AVMM were delighted to be welcomed back again to the
wonderful Banbury Friendship Festival (BFF) which, this year, took place in the
Bridge Street Community Garden. Eight regular dancers and two Hobby horses
performed to the large and enthusiastic crowd with stalwarts Donald and Malcolm
providing the essential musical accompaniment.
Near flawless demonstrations of many of our most popular dances such as Sweet Jenny Jones, Postman’s Knock, Shooting, Princess Royal and Flasher brought loud applause and we had no difficulty in attracting volunteers for our audience participation numbers, Brighton Camp and a simplified version of Shepherds’ Hey for beginners. We were immediately asked back to next year’s festival and received several enquiries about our availability for other events as well as requests for more information from Will, a member of the Woodcraft Folk, who is already a proficient dancer and showed terrific potential.
Thanks to dancers, Dylan, Chris G, Ryan, Mark, David S, Richard and a special mention to Troy, who on Lads a Bunchum, called a Morris dance in public for the first time. We should also like to thank Judith and Sue from BFF for hosting us and for the donation.
Our next dance out will be on Monday 27th May at Wroxton Fete starting at 1pm.
Thank you to all the dancers
and musicians who braved the most challenging conditions that I can recall for
a Day of Dance and made the day so special. In particular, thanks to Phil, Bob,
Dave and Robin who all travelled from far afield in spite of the dire weather
forecast. In the end it hardly rained and the sun made a brief appearance in
the afternoon, even if the storm meant that hats were blown off mid-dance and
bottles of beer and even traffic barriers were knocked over.
Notwithstanding the weather, the standard of dancing was high and our youngsters all performed very well and took on new challenges including learning new dances on the hoof. Alfie, Dylan and Theo all seemed to attract other youngsters, some of whom expressed interest in joining the side and Theo even called several dances. This bodes very well for the future. The photograph (below) features two of our young dancers alongside our more established members performing at Lake House where we enjoyed a break from the wind and the generous hospitality and attention of staff and patients.
It was good to be joined by Chris and Sandra from The Bell for our drinking jig. This was the first husband and wife team to join us for this highlight of the day, a fitting tribute to their generosity in welcoming us on so many occasions and providing the excellent beer. Thanks as always must go to Donald and Malcolm for their music throughout the day. They were joined for some dances by Dave Reed on harmonica and at Le Hall Place by Chris Leslie on fiddle.
AVMM celebrated this special day in the Morris calendar in some style, dancing out in the afternoon and evening in two very different locations. Once again, we were honoured to entertain the delightful regulars at the Harborne Day Centre for adults with learning difficulties in Birmingham, where we demonstrated a good selection of our dances as well as involving the residents in storytelling, singing and learning Shepherd’s Hey. Our youngest new recruit, six year old Owen Daniels, stole the show and was complimented by everyone present for his fine dancing. With more practice and greater strength he could soon be out-dancing the other Australian National in the side, to whom he is related.
In the evening we toured three pubs around the market square in Deddington, performing no less than 19 dances in preparation for our Day of Dance which takes place on Saturday 27 April in Adderbury. 11 dancers and two musicians were able to turn out on a warm, dry evening and all acquitted themselves very well. We were particularly pleased to be the first Morris side to dance at The Red Lion, reopened under new management. We sang ‘Come Landlord Fill the Flowing Bowl’ inside the pub and congratulated the friendly new landlord on a very well kept pint of Tribute Pale Ale, before finishing a busy celebration of dancing in the twilight outside The Deddington Arms. Thanks to publicity secretary Richard for liaising with the Deddington pubs and making the evening such a success and to Donald and Malcolm for their music throughout the practice season.
The practice season has been
well attended since January and our oldest member, Dorset Dave Reed, has proved
an exemplary tutor of the AVMM tradition as well as being a fount of all Morris
lore. With his full beard and striking attire he increasingly resembles an Old
Testament prophet. Squire John and Bagman Donald are confident that we have the
personnel and the enthusiasm to enjoy another successful season and look
forward to being joined by many old friends on Saturday.
It is a little-known fact, outside of the esoteric world of Morris, that isosceles triangles, parallel figures of eight, diagonals and 6:8 timing are all mathematical applications involved in recreating the time-honoured tradition of Cotswold Morris dancing. The teachers and the students, the older and the younger members of Adderbury Village Morris Men, enjoy every minute of the weekly practice sessions when they meet in the 14th century tithe barn in the heart of Adderbury village, where for centuries the dancing men and women of the village have formed two lines, raised their willow sticks and commenced their ‘Foot-up’. The weekly practice sessions are open to all men and boys of any age, from 7 to 70, and are such fun that it’s a wonder the membership is not over-subscribed. If you, or someone you know would like to join our friendly bunch of dancers, you would be made very welcome. Just give our Squire a ring on 07586 261718 and pop along to Adderbury on a Wednesday evening at 8pm.
AVMM’s final gathering of a very busy and successful 2018 took place on a mild and dry day in our home village. A surprisingly large crowd of friends, supporters and locals assembled outside The Bell at lunchtime to watch 14 dancers and a group of four musicians, including guest fiddler, Chris Leslie, perform a good selection of our dances. With so many dancers making themselves available, we were able to field two sets of six for most of our dances, with Theo and Dylan capering around and amusing the crowds on our hobby horses, Charlie and Percy.
It was good to see various family members dancing together as well as old friends, relishing the chance to share in the seasonal goodwill and to dance, laugh and sing together as they have done in Adderbury at this time of year so many times in the past. We subsequently proceeded to The Coach and Horses where we were welcomed by landlord, Tony Watts before moving to a good pitch by the village green to complete an excellent afternoon of Cotswold Morris.
This was the final gathering of 2018. Practices for the 2019 season commence on Wednesday 20th February at 8pm in the Tithe Barn. As we are expecting several new recruits who hope to make the grade in time for the Day of Dance in late April, it is my hope that many experienced dancers will try to attend as many practice sessions as possible this Spring and that each will aim to bring along at least one potential new member.
At 1.45pm on Monday 17th December, AVMM performed Donald’s ‘Story of the Dancer’ at Deddington Church of England Primary School. We were delighted by the welcome, attentiveness and responsiveness of around 200 children and their teachers. Donald had adapted ‘Story’ for our young audience who were seated on three sides of the hall. Our six dancers (John, David, Robin (up from Norfolk), Ryan (who had taken time off from work to join us), Pete and Richard) danced in the centre of the hall and together with Donald’s engaging narrative, held the attention of the entire group for our 65 minute presentation. As we have learnt from our prior school visits, Primary school children love to participate and a highlight of the afternoon was a mass Shepherd’s Hey – an amazing experience – around 220 of us dancing together, led by John and with the rest of us demonstrating the hand and leg movements to groups of children.
We should like to thank: Revd Annie Goldthorp, vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul’s and the Deddington Benefice (a Morris enthusiast who generously acted as our ‘agent’ and recommended us to the school), Judy Ward, Parish administrator, teacher Sally Barber (who has already asked us to perform at the school fete), all the other staff present, office manager Jenny Williams and headteacher Clive Evans. We really enjoyed our time with you and were impressed by the tremendous singing and dancing potential among all the children. Thank you!
AVMM performed for an hour at St Mary’s annual Christmas tree Festival on Saturday 8th December. A good crowd enjoyed our performance of a selection of 13 of our traditional dances. The crowd-pleasers, Postman’s Knock, Happy Man and The Buffoon, were particularly well received. It was good to welcome back Pete Holmes, who danced with brother Chris.
Dylan rode our smaller horse, Percy and danced whenever any of the older dancers needed a rest. As custom demands, in our final dance we welcomed a few novice dancers to join our ranks for Brighton Camp. Troy danced with elder son Owen, who is six, while Pete was joined by his son, Matteo aged four. So our youth recruitment policy continues to bear fruit.
Thanks to Donald, our musician, and to stalwarts, Dorset Dave, Richard and David who have danced out so regularly throughout the past year. Thanks too to David for doing such a splendid job of decorating the AVMM entry for the Christmas Tree Festival.
The story of the Dancer was performed at Preston on Stour Village Hall on Friday 7th December featuring local historian Mick Jennings, local author Hannah Spencer and Adderbury Village dancers and musician. This represented a celebration of the centenary of the World War One armistice. This unique event was very well appreciated by a full house. A blend of history, storytelling, literature, WW1 songs and Morris dancing all revolving around the Christmas Truce story, the passing on of traditions and common humanity. Another opportunity to express our respect and remembrance of those of all sides who gave their lives in the conflict.
Thanks to the good people of Preston on Stour for hosting this event.
AVMM would like to thank Bagman and Musician Donald McCombie, author of ‘Story of the Dancer’, Squire John Ekers, former Squire Dave Reed, former Vicar of St Mary’s, Stephen Fletcher and Sharp & Blunt and Adderbury Morris for joining us for this evening’s moving tribute to those who lost their lives in the Great War. It was a joyful moment of togetherness in remembrance.
‘The Story of the Dancer’ focuses on the Christmas Truce of 1914 when singing briefly stopped the war. As we paused to reflect on the 100th anniversary of the end the First World War and the loss of nearly 20 million lives, Adderbury and its Morris sides are thankful for the sacrifices made and grateful that our music, song and dance live on.
Donald’s ‘Story of the Dancer’ is an evocative, spoken-word story with music, song and dancing. It’s based around the 1914 Christmas truce and the story is intertwined with the Morris tradition. In the first of two outings this week, we performed for around 70 University of the Third Age (U3A) members at the Methodist Church in Chipping Norton. Many of the audience came over to thank us personally as we were packing up and one lady told me that it was the best U3A event she had ever attended! Our thanks to Anthony Benn at U3A for inviting us and to the large and appreciative audience.
AVMM will be performing ‘The Story of the Dancer’ with guests Sharp and Blunt and Adderbury Morris at 7.30pm on Friday 9th November, St Mary the Virgin Church, Adderbury. The event is free of charge. Do please join us if you can.
Dancing the Adderbury tradition as recorded by Janet Blunt