CDSS News, Spring 2022
CDSS News, Spring 2022
Roger Cartwright: The Johnny Appleseed of Morris
Roger Cartwright: The Johnny Appleseed of Morris
By Mitch Diamond
A few years back, I researched the early days of New Cambridge Morris Men, a team I danced with that was started by Roger Cartwright in the 1970s morris revival. In 1976, a friend introduced me to Roger, and I joined the team. Morris dancing gave me a spiritual center, and I met dancers who have since remained good friends. When I learned what I believed to be New Cambridge’s roots, I was surprised to see how many other branches of the same tree there were. At the base of the tree was Roger Cartwright.
In the 1960s there were two adult teams in the US: the Pinewoods Morris Men and the Village Morris Men in Greenwich Village. At that time, PMM members lived all over the world and got together only at Pinewoods Camp and for an occasional tour. The Village Morris Men began in the late ‘60s but ended when Roger and Eric Leiber moved from New York City. This left a lot of people who wanted to dance, but no team to dance with. Here’s where Roger’s greatest gift came into play. He got people excited and pushed them into action.
Roger had specific ideas about what he wanted to see in morris dance in the US. In a letter from January 1973, Roger wrote:
This is an initial attempt to put forth a few ideas about stimulating Morris in New England. I crave deeply to be, simply a happy, secure member of a team… which is a primary group… which meets again and again, and does the same old dances—with the same magic music, same musician, and in familiar settings.
In the U.S. the Country Dance society has been just great for […] opening up Country Dance and Morris and all the great friendships, spirit, times. The early pioneers brought Morris to the U.S. and sustained it all these years. Morris owes a great deal to the Society’s support and thrust. Now, having been brought so far, I sense it is time for the Morris to grow on its own; to begin experimenting with developing a folk base. Not as a “cute” imitation of old village life, but in ways which seem genuine and consistent to our present lives. If there has been a wide revival and vitality in Folk Music, why not in Morris?
Pinewoods Morris Men, as an association, has been a fine way to preserve and strengthen the Morris and the bond among the men, and to popularize Morris among both men and women in Morris classes and workshops in N.Y. and Boston. Now I think we are ready for a new stage in which the proper local spirit, identity and team history find a strong focus.
Roger took action. He held a small May Day celebration in Cambridge, MA, which was the first of its kind in the country. Newtowne Morris Men (today’s New Cambridge) hosted the 47th annual May Day in 2019.
Roger started a small dance group with the intent of creating a morris side and taking it to England. (In morris, a “side” is a group of dancers sufficiently large to perform a morris dance; smaller or more transient than a “team.”) Until that time, individuals had gone to the UK to dance the morris, but never as a side. Roger called the side the Pinewoods New Englanders. In June 1973, they went to England to tour, danced at Thaxted, and practiced with Chipping Campden, Headington, and Oxford teams. The side included Roger, Karl Rodgers, Dick Van Kleeck, Andy Woolf, Fred Breunig, Ed Mason, Sam Rubin, Howie Seidel, and John Dexter, plus Englishmen Philip Smither and Michael Blanford. Jody Evans, a woman from NY, came as a guest.
See a video of the New Englanders:
This tour was the “big bang” of morris—where the morris revival in the US got its start. Roger was the catalyst. Of course, this did not happen in a vacuum. Tony Barrand and John Roberts had become interested in morris after seeing it in college. Shag Graetz, Arthur Cornelius, George Fogg, Ed Mason, Dudley Laufman, Jim Morrison, and others were teaching along the East Coast. Pinewoods and CDSS programs drew people in, but nowhere was the impact as quick and as energizing as what grew from the Pinewoods New Englanders tour.
Fred Breunig told me that he returned from the England tour knowing that he wanted to get involved in morris. Mark Wilke, one of the original New Cambridge Morris Men, says that Roger’s bags weren’t even unpacked before he started a practice at Currier House in Radcliffe. By the end of 1973, there were two new teams in the states: John Dexter started the Binghamton Morris Men, and Roger’s group later named themselves the New Cambridge Morris Men.
By 1974, things progressed rapidly. Karl Rodgers came back from the England tour and, with Jim Morrison, started the Greenwich Morris Men. Jody Evans began the first women’s team, Ring O’ Bells. Tony Barrand started Marlboro Morris and Sword. Fred Breunig started a morris class in Brattleboro, VT, with John Roberts playing music; from there, Marlboro recruited enough people to have both a men’s and a women’s side. Roger and John Dexter organized the first American Travelling Morrice in 1976.
The branches did not stop there. Cathy Mason, whose father, Ed, was a Pinewoods New Englander, was heard to say while on a New Cambridge tour “Why are we carrying their sticks? We can do this as well as they can, probably better. They should be carrying our sticks!” Cathy, along with Cynthia Whear, Kathy Tighe, and Janet Holtz, started Muddy River.
Greg Fabian, a dancer at Fred Breunig’s class in Marlboro, moved to Washington, DC, and helped create Foggy Bottom. Fred was also instrumental in helping Tony Barrand start the Marlboro Morris Ale.
At an early meeting of New Cambridge, the idea that morris teams could exist outside the classes that CDSS/CDS Boston was currently offering was reinforced. Some people felt that this would never work, and went their own way. A year later, after they saw New Cambridge working, the Black Jokers were formed.
There was no stopping it now. Chris Nelson, of the Black Jokers, moved to Philadelphia and started Kingsessing. Bob Greco, of the Binghamton team, moved to Seattle and started the Mossy Backs. Hearts of Oak sprang from Binghamton as did the Bouwerie Boys when John Dexter moved back to NYC. Jody McGeen of Ring O’ Bells started Mayfield Morris in California.
Cammy Kaynor, along with Don Campbell, left New Cambridge and started Juggler Meadow, keeping in mind all that he had learned from Roger.
John Van Sorosin, a New Cambridge member, travelled to Northampton, MA, to teach Northampton Morris to dance. Peter Temple left Northampton, started the Barkshire Morris and had Roger visit from Maine to teach. Peter later moved on to start Harrisville Morris in New Hampshire.
Another New Cambridge Member, Bob Mumford, went to Canada to join a team called Green Fiddle. Green Fiddle only knew four dances they had learned at Pinewoods. Mumford expanded their repertoire and created the Hogtown tradition.
Alistair Brown left Green Fiddle and started Forest City. From Forest City came Goat’s Head and then Thames Valley. Green Fiddle also gave birth to the Hogtown team. Toronto Morris Men was created out of Hogtown and Green Fiddle. Also from Green Fiddle came Black Sheep (a defunct women’s team in Ontario) which led to Bread and Roses, and then to Toronto Women’s Sword. Roger also directly started Stillwater Morris (1979-1984) in Orono, ME, and Rapscallion in Amherst, MA (2003-2011). Rapscallion was a women’s rapper team, the last that Roger taught.
It’s astounding to consider the number of teams that can be traced back to the Pinewoods New Englanders Tour that Roger set up. The chain reaction just kept going.
I’d like to finish with a little more from Roger’s January 1973 letter. He says:
These themes are of value to me. They are clumsy, too vague and corny in these words but I’m going to say them anyway.
- Human community—manageable size, primary group, working, sharing, building together
- rooted—in some ancient past, a craving for un-interruptedness, a faithfulness
- power of the dance—serious, evocative at different levels: ritual, social , personal
- deep physical body response—, in sync, responsivity to music, rhythm, sky, men.
- thirsty for those moments of relief from self-consciousness; pulled away to a different plane or dimension of unstudied self!!
- Easing framework for release of competition, challenge, aggression, skill display, fooling
- mutuality with on-lookers • some invisible thing • can’t say how it grows but potent once it comes
- deep sense of place—consecration of ground faithful return to places familiar and long danced.
- strong autonomy of team in its plans, activities, style.
Oh, now, isn’t there some thing odd about this whole presentation? I sure felt it was a curious kind of bumbling effort on my part, as I was reading up to this point. I realized it’s either stupid or rash, likely both. I think it’s nervy or cheeky in this way. I believe we can tamper with American Society. Yes, I do. In one way, that’s what it’s about. I am confident that by experimenting (takes energy, time, etc.) we can develop that growth. I am ready to put energy, time, money into this vision.
6 clubs in 10 years!
How audacious. Who plans like that Nowadays?
I say we do it, and we can do it!
This is Roger’s legacy, his gift to us. He put his ideas and plan for morris dancing into writing and set out to achieve his goals. He always promoted morris, and wherever he went, a new team sprung up. That’s why he’s the Johnny Appleseed of morris.
Mitch Diamond was 19 years old when he first saw morris dancing at Pinewoods Camp in 1970. He has been “Squire” of Newtowne Morris for over two decades. He’s been an English country dancer for many years. He currently makes a living selling concert posters that date back as far as the 1920s.
Thanks to Rhett Krause for fact-checking this article.
Legacy of Joy
Legacy of Joy
Members & Donors, we thank you!
Friends, we are deeply grateful for your steadfast support throughout these difficult times!
In 2021, you, our members and donors, again rose to the occasion, surpassing our fundraising goals and engaging passionately in sharing resources and community building. As the year unfolded, we were able not only to maintain ongoing work but to continue developing and sharing new resources and programs for pandemic times and beyond.
A Legacy Gift
We are grateful to have received a major legacy gift from the James Edward Hudock Trust.
James Edward Hudock, known to his friends as “Sunshine Jim,” was a beloved member of the Melbourne (FL) English Country Dance and the Cocoa Beach Contra Dance communities, enjoying the friendships that developed there and becoming an informal board member. From time to time, he was suspected of being the “Dance Angel” who would make quiet cash donations to keep the slow times solvent. Even when health challenges began to make dancing difficult for him, his presence at dances lifted spirits.
This strong connection to the dance community inspired him to provide legacy donations after his passing in appreciation of the joy he experienced. Jim understood that supporting CDSS, the parent organization, ensured that the local dances got the support they needed, through small group mentoring, regional publicity, shared history, and generally keeping time-honored joyful customs alive.
His playful spirit lives on!
Gifts for the Future: Estate Plans
Doug Young & Pat Petersen
Friends who include CDSS in their estate plans are sending the gift of dance, music, and song to future generations.
We met either dancing or playing music—neither of us can remember, as we were both “otherwise engaged”—but those two threads drew us ever closer, and continue to knit our lives together. Our courtship continued after Doug moved a few hours away—he would drive down to the Friday contradance and whisk me onto the floor.
The strands in those threads multiplied—waltz, contra, English, square; early music and recorder, old-time music with banjos and guitars, and oh so many songs (Pat is sure that when she is on her deathbed Doug will sing for her yet another song that she’s never heard him sing before).
Dancing in open-air pavilions, singing in harmony with friends, playing in impromptu jams, listening to great tunes as we travel to dance weeks, even going online for dance materials and teaching tips, all have been enhanced or made possible by CDSS. As music, song, and dance continue to fill and enrich our lives, it makes perfect sense for us to share our passion with those who come after us. Leaving a legacy to CDSS is the obvious way to do that.
You Too Can Be a Dance Angel…
Do you, too, envision a future where the traditions you love flourish and endure, and opportunities for dance, music, and song communities to learn, grow, and thrive are supported across North America?
You need not be wealthy to leave a legacy. Becoming a member of CDSS’s Legacy of Joy Society is a great way to make your core values known to others while ensuring the sustainability of our organization. Generations to come will benefit from your gift, and your lasting support of our mission will serve as an inspiration to others.
To join, fill out the online form, or email Robin Hayden at firstname.lastname@example.org. Considering including CDSS in your estate plans but don’t know where to begin? Check out our FAQ page, or fill out the Expression of Interest form, and we’ll be in touch to help you figure out your options.
Power and Grace, Time and Place: An Interview with Tony Barrand
Power and Grace, Time and Place: An Interview with Tony Barrand
By Susan Creighton and Pat MacPherson
CDSS joins the larger dance, music, and song community in mourning the passing of Tony Barrand, the 2008 recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award. We’re lucky to be working with NARRATUS, who interviewed Tony last summer. Throughout this interview, Tony used the phrase “power, grace, time and place” as four essential aspects of Morris dancing.
Tony: …I forgot where I started in that story.
Pat: You were at Pinewoods.
Tony: I was at Pinewoods [in 1975]. So then I saw a group of men, dancing, and that was the first time I saw [morris dancing], which is always amusing to me, since I’m English but I had never seen morris dancing in England. Here was this fascinating thing with these men who had learned to dance, and the physicality of the dancing came through but also with seeming grace that came with that, which was a remarkable combination to me.
It was something I had to do. So I was at Pinewoods Camp—here was I, this Englishman, never seen this at all in England—and here I was catching it at this Pinewoods Camp.
Tony: Anyway, one of the teams that I went to visit on my field trip into England in 1979 was to go and visit the current Headington Quarry Morris men. What was interesting to me watching them dance, they all looked like arm wrestlers. They had strong arm movements, waving handkerchiefs, and it’s like—whoa! So this phrase came to me; this was “power and grace.” So this strange combination that was visible with these men who looked like they were arm wrestlers and yet they were waving handkerchiefs in a graceful fashion that was also strong and powerful, and it was like—whoa! Where else are you going to see that?
Tony: There are four words in the phrase that I got involved with. So, “power and grace” I’ve got, but as I got involved in trying to understand it more, I had to get “time” and “place.” So, people danced like the time of who they were at the time, and they danced according to their place, i.e. where they grew up and where they were actually dancing. Because it was clear that the dancing belonged to a particular village in England, or a town. As it turned out, there were all kinds of aspects to the story that I got involved with…
Pat: That is so fascinating.
Tony: Fascinating, it was fascinating. And I was like, I don’t know if I could ever explain any of that. But I didn’t really like explanations as much as I liked the questions. The questions were so exciting to me to try to understand why they look the way they do, you need to know how they grew up, what songs were involved, what work did everybody do around them, what was the place and the time, what was it about. So there was plenty to do trying to figure that out.
Susan: Quick question. This is reminding me of parts of things that Andy [Andra Horton, Tony’s first wife] was talking about in her interview: that initially there was no image of morris in the US and so the four of you that had founded the Ale, part of what was behind that, in her words, was trying to put out there an image of what morris could be at its best. Would you speak to that?
Tony: That was the whole point of gathering different groups of people doing it together. It clearly was something that had to happen in a place and in a time…
To me, there was clearly an aesthetic that was involved in it. This wasn’t just going to be something that would happen in classes. And so people had to see each other dancing and inspire each other to do dancing. The first thing that happened after we got the team started here, it was clearly something that had to happen where we were living. [...] So there needed to be a gathering of some sort…
And then, I had discovered that here in Windham Country and in Marlboro [VT] specifically there was an event that went on locally in the town, on the first weekend going into summer, or Memorial Day weekend, at the end of May. And that was clearly a time to do some gathering of people together because there was a local history of gathering together on Memorial Day weekend…
That was the time. And the place was because of where we were living. So that was the time, and we had the place. And we clearly needed the teams starting together. And because it was clear looking at what had happened for the growth of teams in England, that the men in England really had some bizarre way of thinking about whether women should do it at all. And because the first event [Andy and Tony’s wedding the year prior] had had a women’s team and a men’s team at it, that’s what we did. Because, CDSS through Pinewoods, women were just as much a part of the growth of the dancing that was happening, at least through camp. And CDSS camp was where we all learned. So, it was like, okay; that’s just the way it is. Then, because Andy and I were involved together in getting the groups together, it was going to be men’s and women’s teams. That’s simply the way it was.
Pat: So, in effect, you were creating a new tradition in a new place, which included women and men. This was the American story of morris. And, it reflected who you were.
Tony: But that’s how we dance and how we sing. You can only be who you are. And so that’s what we did.
Pat: So, we’re talking about “ale.”
Tony: What I encountered was that part of the Cotswolds, which I knew from basically growing up on their edge, was that they called, in the Cotswolds, a country village event an “ale,” as in a similar way to what in Europe, where they would grow a vintage of wine for a particular year or for a festival, in the Cotswolds country practice was that you could have a local event in which you brewed an ale. You could have a church ale; it didn’t matter what it was. An ale was simply an announcement of some event happening with some focus around it. So it can be the church ale. Interesting about that, basically the safe liquid to drink was an ale. Children consumed ale as a safe liquid to drink, because water wasn’t safe. So ale was something basically that everybody drank. [...]
Susan: Ale to me then also suggests that it’s for all ages. A town event to which everyone is welcome.
Tony: That’s exactly right. It was there for everybody to drink. Like, you would sell lemonade.
Susan: It was not an adults-only event.
Tony: It was not an adults-only event. [...]
Susan: So, I’m really intrigued by your phrase “Power, grace, time and place.” It’s getting me to think about morris differently. And my question about the history, I think your point is well taken. Whose history? Who’s defining it? But that’s making me think that there is at least, we talked about an aesthetic of morris that you were trying to capture, power and grace being part of that. Are there other elements of the aesthetic that you would describe that you felt were really important to capturing what morris was?
Tony: Well, (pause), that was real—using the power and grace, time and place thing really reinforced for me when we were getting started that not only came from the sort of mixture that happened at our wedding, but then it naturally happened the next year when we first put together an ale. An aspect of that that’s really interesting to me: everybody naturally picked up on calling a morris gathering an “ale.” There’s the Midwest Ale, there is a West Coast Ale, you know, so…
Susan: The Canadian Ales—the London Ale, the Toronto Ale.
Tony: Everybody. What it is! A gathering of morris dancers is now an ale.
Susan: So do you have time for just a couple more questions?
Tony: I do! Are we OK on time?
Susan: Yeah, we’re fine. As long as you’re good to talk.
Tony: I am. Try and stop me.
The excerpts in this article are from an interview NARRATUS conducted with Tony in August 2021. Click here to read the full interview. This interview is part of a larger project to archive the first 50 years of the Marlboro Morris Ale, and to create archival tools and resources for other morris organizations to use in a similar fashion. This interview will be part of the Marlboro Morris Ale collection that will reside in the archives at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, VT, and is reprinted by permission.
In 2025, the Marlboro Morris Ale, which takes place in Marlboro, VT, will turn 50. With funding from CDSS, NARRATUS (Susan Creighton and Pat MacPherson) has been engaged to archive the Ale’s history. This project has two goals: one is to create an archival collection of the Marlboro Ale’s history. The second goal is to create a process and toolkit that other ale organizers can use to create an archive of their ales. Once that toolkit is complete, CDSS will make it publicly available.
NARRATUS is collecting photographs, videos, t-shirts, posters, and stories from anyone who has attended the Marlboro Ale. We’ll digitize all the donated items and make them available on a public website. The physical archive will live at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, VT. Contact us at email@example.com.
A Glorious Day!
A Glorious Day!
By Alan Katz
Heard from a friend, contra dance planned to be,
Been waiting so long, I could not wait to see
Got there early, didn’t want to miss a bit,
So revved up, excited, I could hardly sit
Sorely needed indeed, after such a long fast,
Music to our ears, a walk-through at last!
Appreciate your comments about taking it slow,
Emerging from hibernation, with caution we go
SPUDS on hand, talented musicians provide the beat,
Made it very easy for us to follow, move our feet
All of us starved to dance contra, there’s a yen,
Off and running, finally, we are swinging again
Reach across, pass through, allemande, hey,
Happy dancers united—a glorious day!
Kudos, Donna and Sue, what a wonderful time,
Kept us synchronized, moving up and down the line
Despite the challenges, a terrific dance we all had,
Even though masks, could tell, everyone smiling, so glad
Thank you much for taking the lead, your action,
So thrilled to be together again—contra satisfaction