Words: Joey Phoenix
Pics: Creative Collective
On June 16th the Boston-based Red Herring Morris Dancers came to Salem, MA for the 2018 Kettle of Fish, an annual event where Morris and Rapper teams from all over New England come to Boston and the surrounding areas for a weekend of dancing, singing, and general noisemaking. There were several other teams in addition to the Red Herring Morris, including Rapper Sword team A Sworded Affair, Garland Team Hart's Brook Garland, Cotswald teams Heartwood Morris, Midnight Capers, Millstone River morris, and Thornden Morris, Longsword team Still River Sword, and Border teams Stick'n the Mist, Snow Dogs, and Ladies of the Rolling Pin.
Morris dance is a form of British traditional folk dance that has origins extending back to the Druidic era. The earliest recorded references to Morris Dancing are from the Middle Ages, as Morris Dancers were often included in seasonal festivals, especially those occurring around May Day. In fact, over time, many people came to believe that if the Morris men didn't dance up the dawn at May Day, then Summer wouldn't come that year.
Modern Morris looks a bit different than it did in its earliest years, for starters, it's not just men, and it's not just sticks. Morris has expanded to include a diverse amount of styles and dancers, each with their own distinct take on traditional Morris. It's dynamic! It's exciting! It's notoriously hard to explain. It's actually much easier just to show you.