Saturday 21 April 2012: Morris Dancers
No it isn't yet May Day in Oxford, but the Morris Dancers were out in full force today. I later discovered that the Oxford Folk Festival is on though I hadn't seen anything to advertise it. Many of today's dancers had blackened faces and I discovered that it's typical of border dancers from the Anglo Welsh borders, they typically wear tatter jackets too. There are "Border Morris" groups right across the country now and they dance a looser, more unstructured Morris dance. So the centre of Oxford was all a jangle with a background of persistent drumming all day... and the students seem to be back too!
This evening I saw a different kind of dancing - Andalucian. I went to see a production of Lorca's Blood Wedding at the Oxford Playhouse. For all its dance, poetry and song, this is a grim, dark, heavy tragedy with no let up - love, loss, lust, deceit, death, vengeance, violence - it's all there and the story unfolds with a dark persistent rhythm to it which reminded me of the earlier drumming but with a sinister overtone and sense of foreboding. Although the play is full of symbolism and the action is stylised it is brim full of suppressed emotion and leaves you feeling quite wrung out by the end. After the play, finding a bunch of folk musicians in a bar, doing their bit for the festival, helped to lift the spirits a little.