A bit of history
AnnieMation / Annies Fantisies
Established in 1979 Annies Fantasies was so named after a founder member who had fantastic ideas for new looks and dances. The side performed traditional North-west morris dances plus some they created themselves. They also had a stepping side, which we no longer have.
Annie’s Fantasies has always been a mixed side wearing a black and red kit comprising below-knee trousers, waistcoat, T-shirt and clogs. This remains the case today with individual personalisation. We continue to dance in the North-west tradition and also dances created by members of the side.
Our trademarks are our red clogs, black and red stripes and being a side that likes to get out there and dance with enthusiasm.
In 2018 we rename to AnnieMation to move away from dubious internet search results but retain a link to our founder.
We have a mix of musicians usually lead by Melodeon, drum and guitar. We are open to having more musicians and a variety of instruments.
Oh yes and we are world record holders. In 2018 we took part in the largest group Morris dance at the Sheringham Potty Morris Festival (Norfolk) which wanted to celebrate its 25th year with a big event. 369 Morris dancers achieve that.
The music of early Morris music dance traditions was probably performed on a pipe and tabor(drum), but styles of music changed as other instruments were introduced and with the rise of popular music from broadsheet street singers and the music hall. North-West Morris would have originally used brass instruments and drums, but since the 1950s melodeons and other loud instruments, such as pipes and banjos are used across all the six styles.
Our musicians still play melodeons, guitar, loud woodwinds (including a hornpipe), and string instruments, with (of course) a tabor drum.
Many of the tunes are traditional melodies such as “Donkey Riding” and “British Grenadiers”…but just occasionally, something a little bit more from ‘popular’ culture sneaks in, so listen carefully and you may just hear something like “Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini” during one of our dances!
The dances and their tunes can be seen on the dancers page:
The origins of Morris dancing are largely unknown, but there are various stories offered about the costume and exotic nature of this type of display dancing. There is evidence that different forms of this dance can be found all over West Europe by the fifteenth century which described as ‘Morris’. In 2000 our side participated in celebrating Will Kempe’s centenary. He was Shakespeare’s comic actor who ‘Morris danced’ from London to Norwich in 1600.
Originally identified as courtly entertainment, Morris has for many centuries been associated with English festive events and with regional variations. The industrial revolution led to a general decline in village styles, but the recording and revival of Morris dancing by Cecil Sharp and his associates was part of a promotion of English culture at the end of the nineteenth century.
North-West Morris is one of the six main English regional styles commonly celebrated today, and it was probably the most modern. It developed in the growing mill towns of eighteenth century Lancashire probably from an amalgam of earlier rural traditions. This style is usually danced in wooden clogs, by both men and women and tends to be processional. Dancers associate the figures or patterns of the dancing with the weaving process.
Types of Morris Dancing
- North West Clog – See above!
- Cotswold – Probably the most recognised. Originated from Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. Dancing with hankies or sticks and lots of leg movement with high leaps. Can include single person dances (jigs)
- Border – From the English/Welsh borders. Often dressed in rag jackets, faces painted, danced mostly with sticks, it is swift, boisterous and looks quite dangerous!
- Molly – From East Anglia – No hand accessories, men often dressed as women. Dance style has large steps, undercrossing and definitive arm movements.
- Rapper – From Northumberland. Tightly knit, intricate, fast dancers where a flexible blade is held by the dancers though 90% of the dance. Blades not sharp but will make you wince!
- Long sword – From Yorkshire with longer swords as their equipment.
There are some unique dances that are only for specific events like the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcK15xo3wZw
Modern Morris Dancing
Morris dancing is still alive and doing well today. All the above styles are still performed and there must be more than 20 sides in Essex; three just in Colchester. Many sides stick strongly to the traditional but you may be surprised that many that have added a twist to the tradition. Pig Dyke Molly have a distinctive monochrome look and distinctive sound, SlackMaGirdle have a steampunk costumes theme and a twist on traditional instruments, Royal Liberty have replace sticks with scaffolding poles to give an extra impactive percussive ring. Mythago have dark mask and some interesting electrical instruments. All are still great dancers.
Pig Dyke Molly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clugn0xbxbc
Royal Liberty Morris: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YPTlEsstNk&t=93s