American Morris Newsletter  

American Morris Newsletter

Volume 25, Number 4 December, 2005

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 AMN Article  

Reflections of an Ex-Editor

Jim Brickwedde

It seems to me that there is a song out there in the recesses of my mind about retired Morris dancers. I have now been in the ranks of that group for quite some time. I remember doing an interview with Richard Connant of Pinewoods Morris Men years ago and listening to him describe how a family move took him away from regular Morris dancing for many years. He only had the annual Pinewoods Tour as an outlet. He eventually returned to more regular dancing later in life. 

I don't think I will get that chance. My role will need to be that of an earnest spectator. Damaged discs in my lower spine precludes doing full capers. My bones remember a very athletic style of Morris. Flying through the air on the syncopated beat I learned from dancing with Hammersmith Morris Men in London, and that I built into the style of the Ramsey's Braggarts, was a magical feeling. The body, the music, the flow of the air, and the coordinated movements with side mates remains in my neurological pathways. To do less then that would not satisfy my soul. Pedestrian Morris is not my style. The Braggarts were created as, and still are, a "white-shoe" Morris side! 

I now just watch from the sidelines and have my body twitch to the movements the music implies. I do get out to see the local sides from time to time. My family and professional obligations have shifted the priorities of my schedule. But I have my CD collection to keep me well minded of the time I danced regularly. 

So where is the Morris community today? I know what the local arena looks like. There are grayer heads than there used to be. There are enough new faces to keep the groups invigorated. One of my important Morris teachers and antagonists, Ed Stern, Foreman of the Minnesota Traditional Morris Men, has pondered the idea of having an old man's side and a young man's side within the larger group just so that the newer dancers can attain a vigor that they can get from dancing with their peers. It's an interesting thought. Is our generation creating a new generation of dancers? Are we able to let go of the reins of influence to let the new generation fly with their ideas? One of the best outcomes of my retiring from the Braggarts was that my departure allowed the group to grow past its founder and foreman. And they are still "damn good since [their founding in] 1988!" (Morris men may retire, but egos never die!) 

We all leave a mark of one kind or another. Some marks are made consciously, others more tangentially. We never quite know how we move our audiences but it is important to think about that element of our dancing. That pride in the feeling of what we do, the alertness to our impact with the public, is what allows the ritual to be shared and to survive. So, enjoy the dancing! Have an ale. Leave footprints. Pass it on! From generation to generation. 


Jim Brickwedde, Retired Morris Man [Former member of the Willow Wood Morris Dancers (Buffalo), Minnesota Traditional Morris Men, Founder/Foreman of the Bells of the North Morris Dancers, Founder/Foreman Ramsey's Braggarts Morris Men, Creator of the Minneapolis-on-Mississippi Morris tradition, Former Editor of American Morris Newsletter]


 AMN, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 2005  ISSN: 1074-2689