Saturday, April 30, 2011

Maypole Dance

Dancers gather in a circle, each holding a coloured ribbon attached to a
much smaller pole. As the dance commences the ribbons are intertwined
and plaited either on to the pole itself or into a web around the pole. The
dancers may then retrace their steps exactly in order to unravel the ribbons.
This style of maypole dancing originates in the 18th century, and is derived
from traditional and 'art' dance forms popular in Italy and France. These were
exported to the London stage and reached a large audience, becoming part
of the popular performance repertoire. Adopted at a large teacher training
institution, the ribbon maypole dance then spread across much of England,
and is now regarded as the most 'traditional' of May Day's traditional

The Maypole Dance was an important tradition at Hebron Elementary School,
where I grew up in Indiana. If I recall correctly, Mrs. Morrow would teach
girls in 6th grade to perform this rite of spring. I remember watching my
sister, Nancy dance around the Maypole. Each girl had a long, pastel-colored
dress and would have to follow intricate steps so that their ribbon would
fall into place perfectly with the other girls' ribbons. This pole was used only
twice a year. When it wasn't being used on May Day for the Maypole dance,
it was used as the Grease Pole on the 4th of July in which if one climbed the
greased pole, there was money on the top to claim as a price. Somehow I
remember that the Maypole Dance was much prettier!


babbler said...

I remember dancing around a Maypole only once in my life at a park in Eagle Rock, California as a child. This reminds me of that day fondly. What a beautiful shot.
Love, "Mrs. Slug

thongonfire666 said...

Lol, I remember watching my older sister dance around the maypole - I also remember the really super silly constume - or is that not mandatory elsewhere lol? xxxxxxxxx