In the blissful setting of the Gardens of Kensington Palace, a range of dancers came together to celebrate two famous styles of English folk dance: Morris and Maypole.
In partnership with Historic Royal Palaces, English National Ballet initiated a dance and design project involving choreographer Simon Rice, Morris dance specialist Jeff Dent and Maypole dance specialist Mike Ruff.
Visual artist Sofie Layton was commissioned to create a new maypole, which featured a crown motif at the top in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. She also led a design strand to the project which gave elders the opportunity to customise the maypole with copper flowers. The project encompassed a series of dance workshops and choreography sessions within a variety of community and school settings, which led to the creation of three newly-commissioned performances in the grounds of Kensington Palace.
The final performances were wonderful to behold, and ranged from young school children reinterpreting Morris steps, older school children fusing Morris and hip hop styles, and young children and elders dancing new choreography around the maypole.
"I particularly enjoyed seeing the traditional steps I taught being developed into something more in the style of each of the groups. I thought the final performances were excellent and a highlight of the whole thing, as indeed they should have been." – Jeff Dent, Morris specialist
"It was a wonderful event and I was so surprised with the Morris Dance, it is so energetic and I would be keen to do something like the girls’ presentation at the end of the event, it was amazing!" – Audience Member
If you wish to find out more about Morris and Maypole, and other Big Dance 2012 projects, you can read a review of the event at our Dance is the Word blog: