Morris Dance Terms

About Morris Dancing | Morris Dance Related Terms

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Morris Dance Terms
#1. Dancer in position 1 in the set. Usually calls the dance.

Chorus: A set of positions that again is usually common to one style or tradition of dance. However, within a dance the chorus usually remains constant.

Figures: A set of positions usually common to one style or tradition of dance and invariable from dance to dance in that tradition. Most dances consist of 3 to 4 different figures.

Hankies or Sticks: There are stick dances and hanky dances. There are even non-hanky/sitck dances! Both of these tools are held and used in different ways depending on the dance.

Jig: Dance for one or occasionally two. We dance a few jigs as “mass dances”

Kit: What Morris dancers wear. A kind of costume. Our kit colors are red, white and black.

Mass dance: A dance not done in a set but involving all dancers. See Jig. Princess Royale is a mass (or massed) dance

Muso: Musician

Set: Dances are danced in a set. Most common sets are 4,6, and 8 people. Dancers on the left side of the set are “odds”, those on the right side of the set are “evens”. Occasionally it comes in handy to know what number your position is.

Style point: A particularly detailed dance point.

Teams/side : Hope this is obvious. The people that make of a Morris dance group. There are men only, women only , and mixed male/female teams. Until relatively recently, many people believed that only men danced Morris. But we know that’s not true.

“This Time”: “Number 1” or the dance caller usually calls this out to indicate when the dance will begin. Kind of a warning.

Steps (tradition in parenthesis)

Beetle crushers: Standing on say your left foot (weight on left foot), point the right toe or stamp on the right heel, then ground or step onto the right foot, jump to the left foot, and then quickly shift to right foot again so the left foot is free. Repeat with left point, weight on right foot, etc.

Caper: Plain capers involve shifting the weight from foot to foot ideally with a kind of jump or impetus to get a little loft, the legs acting as springs. The dancer “takes off” from foot to foot.

Forey capers involve the same kind of jump from foot to foot but you add a hop on the landing foot so you are always taking off on the same foot.

Double step: aka ds – shifting or moving the weight from foot to foot ending with a hop. The count is 1,2,3 hop (or left, right left, hop on left foot) (Fieldtown)

Fudge foot: when you must switch feet so that the correct foot is free for the next step.

Galley; Weight on one foot, other leg is lifted with the thigh parallel to the floor, swing the foot/leg around usually one or two rotations.

Hucklebacks: another backward moving step with free leg swing out to the side.

Mrs. Casey’s: A rock step whereby you rock on the heel of the “free” leg.

On your owns: Basically a step hop going backwards.

Sidestep: A side step can be wide or small, or almost in place. It is almost a “step together step hop” except that one foot will be behind the dominant or weight bearing foot/leg.

Single step: aka ss – somewhat like a skip or single hop, swinging slightly the free foot. (Bampton )

Positions or Figures (these may turn up in the figures or in the chorus and represent the basics)

Back To Back (B2B): Moving forward to opposite side of the set, opposite your partner, usually leading right shoulders first, then taking a step right (or left if leading with your left shoulder), And then backing into place. Repeat leading left.

Beetle crusher Back to Backs: Similar to above but involving the beetle crusher stepping.

Face to Face: similar to Whole gyp.

Foot up and Down: Heading up the set and then turning inward OR outward and heading down.

Foot up and up: Heading up the set

Half gyp: or half gypsy. Moving forward to opposite side of the set, opposite your partner, usually leading right shoulders first. And then backing straight into place. Repeat leading left.

Hey: There are three basic kinds of heys that we do. A hey is basically a circling around of each of the sides in a patterns along the side of the set, such as a figure 8, for example. RenRose also does a different kind of hey in other dance traditions.

Plain or mirror hey | Parallel or Adderbury | Litchfield

Whole Gyp: or whole gypsy. Circling around your partner, usually leading right shoulders first. And then backing into place. Repeat leading left.


Ale: a Morris convention! With lots of dancing and some beer and singing.
Squire: administrator of the group or leader
Fore: dance master, teacher.
Rag: costume keeper
Bag: Treasurer
Scribe: Secretary


Morris traditions come from different areas of England. Morris dancing is a Cotswold tradition “a collection of dances that come from a particular area, and have something in common: usually the particular steps, the arm movements, and the figures danced.” (WIKIPEDIA)

Other traditions include:
NW Clog

Renegade Rose Dances (and their village traditions h=hankies, s=sticks, j-jigs)

Field Town

Froggy’s First Jump(s)
Knuckles (s)
Constant Billy and Constant Lily 6 and 4 person
The Idiot
Flower of the North (h)
Princess Royal (j)
Nutting Girl (j)
Cuckoo’s Nest (j)
Apple Squeeze (sticks)


Simon’s Fancy (h)
Highland Mary (h)
Tipping Cows (h)


Sweet Jenny Jones(s)
South Australia (massed dance)


Bean Setting (s)
Vandals (s)
Klez Morris (h)
Valentine – Ascott
Tinners rabbit (s)
Seaside shuffle (h)
The Stork (h)
Cuckoos nest (j)