Merry Morris and Maypole Dancing at Markova House…

As part of the wide range of activities that English National Ballet is organising for Big Dance 2012, Morris and Maypole is a community dance project leading to a performance at Kensington Palace, featuring a new Morris dance choreography by Simon Rice.

Inspired by a Morris dance made for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897, Simon Rice has created a modern piece, showcasing the current diversity of dance in London as part of the celebrations for our current Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The enthusiastic performers are made up of young dancers from schools and youth dance groups in London, aged between 10 and 20.

Dancers have worked incredibly hard during the past three weeks in order to give shape to Rice’s dynamic choreography. All dancers including an all female group from Feltham Community College, started by learning the original Morris dance from 1897 on which the new work is based. This background training and understanding of the folk dance form has helped dancers to face the new composition with confidence.

Two performances of the work will take place on 7 and 8 July in the Gardens of Kensington Palace. I was fortunate to attend the final rehearsals at Markova House, this weekend…

At the end of an exhausting 7-hour rehearsing day, I witnessed the first assemblage of the whole choreography with flavours of Street Dance, Ballet and Contemporary including dancers from Elevate Academy, based at Harrow High School. The choreography stresses the idea of community, arranging dancers in small groups and providing opportunities for solo and group variations.

Young dancers from Carshalton and Greenshaw High Schools have quickly absorbed Rice’s instructions not only on the choreography but also on the performing skills necessary to present it on stage. With only one more rehearsal before the performance and only minor details to be polished, I’m sure that these youngsters will be capable of offering a brilliant show. The steps and skills learnt in this intense period will certainly allow them to engage the audience.

Come down to Kensington Palace this Saturday 7 or Sunday 8 July to see the performances. Free entry; to find more detail about the event at the Historic Royal Palaces website