Berkeley Morris was founded in 1977 by Brad Foster and others interested in bringing morris dancing to the Bay Area. While Berkeley Morris performs dances from a number of different morris styles, the predominant styles of Berkeley’s repertoire originate from or are modeled after those from the Cotswold district of England, specifically the traditions of Fieldtown (from the village of Leafield) and Bledington. Cotswold dances use sticks or handkerchiefs, are often danced in sets of six dancers, and consist of a set of common figures punctuated by choruses unique to each dance. Traditional Bledington dances are overwhelmingly hankie-based, but Berkeley loves its sticks, and has found or developed a number of Bledington stick dances to complement the flying hanks. The music is based on traditional English country dance tunes.
Berkeley Morris’ traditional performance season falls between sunrise on May 1 and sunset on the day of the summer solstice. During the dance season, the team can be found in all sorts of public spaces—parks, festivals, plazas, and farmers’ markets—throughout the Bay Area on almost any weekend. For more information, see out schedule of performances. Berkeley Morris can also be booked for private performances.
Morris teams have a tradition of representing themselves with animals called "hobbies" (think "hobby horse"), much like modern mascots of sports teams. Lucy, our hobby, is a bear recalling both the mascot of the University of California at Berkeley as well as the California grizzly.
Members of Berkeley Morris come from many walks of life and live throughout the greater Bay Area. Berkeley Morris has given dance workshops at venues such as the San Francisco Free Folk Festival, and hosts an annual series of free classes in August and September.
Morris dancers periodically gather together in conventions called “ales,” so named (some maintain) because of the most popular activity at them (after dancing, of course, but that goes without saying, doesn’t it?). Berkeley Morris has hosted several ales so far.
Berkeley Morris is committed to inclusiveness and welcomes people of all genders, orientations, and ethnicities. See also our commitment to antiracism in morris.