The Belles of York is a Toronto-based women's Morris dance team (traditional English folk dancing) that started in 1987. That same year, several other Toronto and near-Toronto teams began too . The Belles was originally taught by Dee and Duncan (once a member of the Toronto Morris Men), a couple of dancers who moved to Toronto from England. The name for the group was inspired by Toronto's historic name of York, and Belles -- well, we're a women's team, right?
Belles practice weekly on Tuesday nights during the fall and winter in a
convenient location in the Annex. If you have danced before, or are interested
in learning Morris dancing from the bare beginnings, then contact us. While we are currently a women's team, we are thinking of expanding and welcome male enthusiasts too.
Dance outs: We participate in several dance-outs each year. Highlights include May Day in High Park (with several other GTA teams, a sunrise dance celebration), the London Ale (early June), the Toronto Ale (Labour Day weekend), and the Cambridge Millrace Festival. We sometimes perform in several smaller venues each year.
We welcome people who are new to dancing. No experience is needed, and all ages. Enjoying trips to the local English pub for good ol’ socializing is encouraged!
Belles of York in Action!
About North West Morris
The style the Belles dance is North West Morris. This style is derived from the processional dance traditions of the Northern counties of England. It is the second most popular form of Morris Dance after Cotswold. The Belles wear clogs and twirl short lengths of twisted cotton rope called tiddlers, mollies or slings. We sometimes wave painted sticks that have ribbons attached to both ends.
The North West Morris dancers clogs have leather uppers which are decorated, and sometimes bells are tied to the clogs rather than to the shins as with the Cotswold style. The use of clogs is likely to have been a later addition to the North West Morris dancer's costume.The dances consist of a number of figures each proceeded by a chorus. The chorus normally includes some form of stepping up before moving back to the original position. This is said to be the remnant of the processional (and less energetic) part of the dance during which the side would move from one stand (pub) to the next. The sides who dance North West Morris today have found it more beneficial to remain at one pub thus eliminating lost drinking time.
Dance with Us!
There are several Morris dance teams in the GTA, and all welcome new members. If you like the idea of a clogging style of Morris, then contact us. You can come watch us practice, and share a brew at a local English pub afterwards. We practice Tuesday evenings near Spadina and Bloor.
Contact us for details: email@example.com