A mixed group of West Dorset Morris dancers are celebrating their tenth anniversary of defying tradition.
Frustrated by the gender division in traditional Morris dancing groups, retired airline stewardess Briony Blair established Wyld Morris as a way to let men and women dance together.
The group, which is now 20-strong, will soon celebrate its tenth anniversary with a limited screening in Bridport of a documentary on their history.
Briony said: “A little over ten years ago I moved to Dorset from East Sussex, where I used to Morris dance, but when I moved here I had no one to dance with and I really missed it.
“The Wessex and Uplyme Morris dancing groups didn’t accept women members and that was that. I knew If I wanted to continue Morris dancing, I would have to set up my own group but that ended up happening almost by accident.
“I had a friend who wanted to try Morris dancing and asked me to teach her. It turned out she had two left feet and didn’t really last with it, but by the time she realised that other people had joined us and we had formed the beginning of our little group.
“We’re now up to around 20 members, but five or so of them have been with us from the beginning.”
Briony added: “People seem mostly ready to embrace mixed Morris dancing groups these days I think. There are lots of male only or women only groups, but not so many mixed groups. The times have changed and Morris dancing needs to change with it, if it stands a chance of surviving.
“At Wyld Morris we’re not picky about who wants to join us: all are welcome, and we love sharing our passion for this with other people.
“Our members range, at the moment, from their early 40s to one member who is now 85 and is still dancing well.
“Collectively, we may not be the best Morris dancing group in the world but we have fun and we always have a great reception form the public when we perform.”
Wyld Morris, named after Monkton Wyld, recently commissioned Bridport based filmmaker Rob Jayne to create a 40-minute documentary on the group and its history, which was shown on May 4.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about the group should visit wyldmorris.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org