23 May 2009 - Dancing on Campus

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Our first Marlboro Ale day dawned cloudy but warm. After an excellent breakfast in the dining room (including proper American pancakes and muffins!), we gathered with all the other sides for a procession around the college campus to the Music Shed. The parade was led by a motley band made up from the musicians from all the sides. It was a tremendous sight to behold as the line of dancers made its way through the campus, with the head eventually catching up with the tail outside the Music Shed to form a continuous dancing circle. Perhaps the American culture was getting to me but it reminded me of "circling up the wagons" as featured in all the best Western films!

With the procession over with, we all congregated round the designated dancing area where each side in turn performed a show dance. This gave us the opportunity to witness at first hand what morris “over the pond” was like. Without exception, all of the teams on display demonstrated an outstanding level of expertise, energy and commitment that confirmed that morris dancing is thriving in North America. The other pleasing aspect that we all remarked upon was the number of youngsters (well, they were younger than us!) involved in morris, something we really need to encourage in the UK. The Americans are also not frightened of pushing the boundaries beyond traditional morris, as demonstrated by a mesmerising longsword dance by Orion Sword to the music “Take Five”.

When their turn came, Kettle Bridge gave a lively and energetic rendition of Prescott which was very enthusiastically received. You can see the performance and the crowd's reaction by clicking here.

Once all the dancing had finished, the festivities continued when Marlboro Morris Men challenged Kettle Bridge Clogs to a game of “Aunt Sally” which, for those of you who don't know, involves taking turns to throw a stick to knock a peg off the top of a spike. This keenly contested match was played in great spirit and ended in an honourable draw. However, as those of you who watch American sport know, there has to be a winner so we embarked on a sudden death shoot-out. Anxious to uphold a fine English tradition, Kettle Bridge sportingly lost. The only consolation was that at least it was against our friends from Marlboro and not the usual suspects!

Lunch consisted of an interesting Greek-style buffet which was enjoyed by all. Then it was time to get ready for the afternoon tour of Brattleboro.