Morris dancers flock to village for centenary

Morris dancers from across Britain will come together to celebrate 100 years of the musical tradition in a Peak District village.

Hundreds of folklore enthusiasts are expected to flock to Winster for the Look Sharp event this weekend, which will commemorate the day Cecil Sharp visited there in 1908.

The folk music pioneer met with Winster Morris Dancers 100 years ago to see and record the village's unique songs and dances, which are still performed today.

David Frederickson, Look Sharp organiser, said: "It promises to be one of the biggest gatherings of morris dancers ever seen in Derbyshire. But it will also be a day of fun, drama, music and song, especially for the three local schools at Winster, Elton and South Darley who have taken part in workshops during the weeks before the event."

Look Sharp begins on Friday when there will be a re-enactment of Sharp's arrival in Winster by actor Steve Tomlin. He will arrive in Darley Dale by steam train at about 10.30am and will then take a pony and trap to Winster, visiting three schools on his way.

The Cotton Grass Theatre Company of Bradwell and the Babbling Vagabonds will then perform a sketch in the evening starting at 6pm.

On Saturday there will be a "mass morris" when more than 100 dancers from as far away as Oxfordshire and Essex will get together on Winster's Main Street to dance. Six teams will also tour at least eight Peak District villages on their way to Winster.

Sharp's visit to Winster is the first record of the morris dancers, although members believe the tradition can be dated back much further.

In 1908 Sharp recorded five dances and songs which were unique to the morris including, The Processional, The Morris, The Blue-eyed Stranger, The Reel and Winster's most famous dance The Winster Gallop.

The Winster morris has 16 dancers, rather than the traditional six, who split into two files of eight. The Ladies' Side is distinguished by colourful flowers which are placed in straw hats while the Gents' side wears the traditional dress. The morris also has four attendants - the King , the Queen, the Jester and the Witch.

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