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morris dance

morris dance or morrice dance, rustic dance of the north of England that had its origin in country festivals, such as those of May Day and Whitsunday. Reference to it in English literature is made as early as the 15th cent. The main dancers were called Robin Hood, Maid Marian, the hobbyhorse, and the bavian, or fool. They were accompanied by a piper or taborer. An ambulatory dance, it was often performed from one village to another by the main dancers and six other dancers, three in a row. The morris dance was a sword dance in many vicinities.

See J. Forrest, The History of Morris Dancing, 1458–1750 (1999).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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