DC's premier women's Morris side began as the "Foggy Bottom Women” in 1978. Then, in 1979 under the leadership of Mary Chor, the original members split off from the Foggy Bottom Morris Men -- our brother team and dear friends to this day -- to become the Rock Creek Morris Women.
We dance all over the Washington, D.C. area at events like the Southern Maryland Celtic Festival, the Washington Folk Festival, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and the Takoma Park Folk Festival. You may also find us spontaneously performing around the neighborhoods of D.C. from Adams Morgan to Capitol Hill, by ourselves or with other local folk dance teams.
We also regularly wander farther afield to participate in larger gatherings of Morris teams called "Ales." We've attended events in Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington, Toronto, Ontario, and more! We've also toured parts of the UK in 1992, 2000, and 2016.
RCMW celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2019. Join us as we continue to carry the Morris tradition into the coming years!
What is Morris Dancing?
Morris is an energetic ritual folk dance from the Cotswold region of England. It is a living tradition that is actively practiced and shared through street performances and regional gatherings of teams throughout the Morris-dancing world.
The dances are performed with large hankies that wave, float, or snap and sticks that are clashed or tossed. Dancers wear bells on their legs which create a distinctive percussive element. Morris is usually performed by sets of six dancers, known as teams or "sides," with one or more musicians providing live acoustic accompaniment.
The exact origins of Morris dancing are unknown. The earliest written reference to the Morris appeared in the 15th century, and the dance was already considered ancient at that time. Some think that the word Morris is a corruption of "Moorish" and that it was introduced to Europe by the Moorish conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Others think that the origins can be traced even further back in time, and that today's Morris traditions are echoes of pre-Christian seasonal rites. Whatever its origins, many in the Morris community consider it to be tied to the agricultural cycle. Its modern iteration is often performed to celebrate the changes of the seasons: the arrival of spring, the growth of crops, the bounty of harvest, the darkness of winter, and other phases of the year that hold significance to us and our communities.
Some think that Morris was traditionally danced only by men. However, there is documentary evidence that women historically did perform Morris. In fact, in some cases (particularly during wartime), women are credited with keeping the dance alive.
Morris was nearly lost during the Industrial Revolution, as were many other forms of folk life. Thanks to the efforts of folklorists and ethnomusicologists in the early 20th century, some dances were recorded and enthusiastically revived in England. It was through this resurgence that the Morris came to the United States, where it experienced another revival along with other folk arts in the 1970s.
Rock Creek Morris is one of several organizations that make up the DC area's vibrant folk dance community! Other groups include: