'Bit of crazy': Folk group looking for 'eccentric' dancers
IT'S like a touch of the English countryside in an Australian setting.
Morris folk dancing has an ancient history that may predate Christianity and is connected with fertility rituals.
It includes dances using sticks, handkerchiefs, or swords, and encompasses other styles of ceremonial dance.
The dance group Fiddle Stix, based in the Grafton region of NSW, has been performing the playful public entertainment for nearly 20 years.
Former "squire" Geoff Welham says Morris dancing is great fun.
The squire performs many of the actions that keep his "side" happy, dancing and learning.
"I personally have been dancing since the early 1970s, but not always with the same group, in Brisbane, Melbourne and Grafton," he said.
"I dance because it is, in some obscure way, in my blood, and because it's fun and a bit eccentric.
"It helps to be a bit eccentric, extrovert, like good exercise, and be able to get and keep fit."
Fiddle Stix invites new members to join the current merry band of nine dancers and two musicians - a piano accordion player and a banjo/bodhran player.
"We teach the dances we are doing currently, as well as the general ideas underpinning Morris dancing," Geoff said.
"Fitness and a 'bit of crazy' are more important than age, but you need to be able to do some very vigorous dance steps and jumps.
"We are good friends and, when we're in the spirit, we all go up together.
"We are a generally merry bunch with a love for tradition, music, dancing and an occasional cider or two."
Fiddle Stix practises weekly on Friday afternoons at the church hall across from the fire station in Wharf St, South Grafton.
Dances include Adderbury, Bampton, Border and other traditions, with both sticks and hankies.
Check out their Facebook page for details.