Community in Motion

While it was not the springtime promenade it had been at the Festival of the Book when I attended in late March a few years back, there was plenty of colorful humanity in motion on the “mall” in downtown Charolottesville.

Somehow, when I first came upon the rag-clad, face-painted men dancing, prancing, cavorting and clacking wooden sticks together rhythmically, I knew it was “Morris Dancing.” I must have come across it before, but cannot find where I have written about it on Fragments. If I didn’t write about it on the blog, did it ever really happen? But that’s a question for another time.

I made a short video of this revelry, and maybe will get that up one of these days on YouTube.

“Morris” may have come from the term “Moresca.” The dance may have originally been performed back as far as the Middle Ages, with striking swords instead of relatively benign wooden staves. A rather exhaustive entry in Wikipedia describes the history of Morris dancing. [Click here for larger image.]

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I have never seen Morris dancers, even here in California where I have lived since 1968, and have seen pretty much everything our culture has to offer!