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Black Faces, Garlands, and Coconuts: Exotic Dances on Street and Stage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 July 2014


During the late 1920s, representatives from the English Folk Dance Society came across an unusual custom in a narrow valley in the northwest of England. Every Easter a small group of men would dance through the local streets, accompanied by a silver band and led by a whip-carrier who cleared a space in which they could perform.

On the face of it such ceremonial activity was similar to the annual practices of English morris and sword dancers whose repertoires and customs Cecil Sharp had rescued from oblivion in the early years of the century. Certainly, in broad terms, the custom conformed to Sharp's definition of the morris as a ceremonial performance by men only, in special dress, and at a particular time in the local calendar (1909: 10–12).

Copyright © Congress on Research in Dance 1990

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