Abbots Bromley Horn Dance


The Abotts Bromley horn dance is a Morris type dance performed in the small English village of Abbots Bromley each year. It has a rich and ancient history going back centuries. It is done all day, going from house to house as a fundraiser for the local church. Large Antlers, elaborate costumes, and much mirth accompany it. The Characters are six antler carryers, Maid Marion, Robin Hood, the Hobby Horse, and the Fool.

(above) Maid Marion, Robin Hood, the Hobby Horse, and the Fool.

Various musicians and performers accompany the dancers who walk in step in a line stopping occasionally to perform the dance maneuver.
(above) A drummer, accordionist, and juggler follow dancers.

Through the course of the dance they form a circle, and on cue reverse themselves and form two lines. They approach each other, feign attack and retreat. Approach and clack antlers and retreat. Approach and pass by each other. Then approach and clack antlers again.

The leader then cuts outward and they form a traveling line in step again.

The dance is traditionally performed to the haunting sound of Robinsons tune (below) it can also be done to "Pop Goes the Weasel". The cue to begin step three (the circle reversal) is the first Cminor phrase. The last eight measures are the heart of the dance- feign, clack, pass by, and clack. While walking they are played once. during the dance they are played twice to accommodate the four main dance moves.

 

In modern times, Neopagans have embraced the dance and its symbolic roots. The six antlered characters represent the forces of wild nature and the dance itself mimics male deer greeting behavior in the woods.

The other characters represent archetypical forces:

Maid Marion as the Goddess
Robin Hood as the God and hunting societies
The Hobby Horse as domesticated agriculture
The Fool as the union of all these forces in a spiritual context.

In the dance the Fool meets Maid Marion (spiritual forces) and
The Hobby Horse meets Robin Hood (agricultural society meets the God of the hunt)

While the true roots of the dance and its beginnings are unknown, the symbolism and movements appear ancient. The dance is still performed in England and is a boisterous affair that draws thousands to the small hamlet. In Neopagan interpretation it is often performed slowly and solemnly. The best time is at dusk. It is performed as if there is no audience. The dance goes forth because it has to. It is symbolic of the forces of life itself, and like a tree falling in the woods goes on whether you are there to witness it or not!

Dance instruction (below)

 

 

Many thanks to Steven Posche, master story teller, teacher, and ritualist. He brought this dance to the Midwest Pagan community and inspired me to pick up my accordian and learn and teach it!

For more info contact:
Hawkdancing Studio


or visit: Staffodshire tourism
and
Long Tall Sword
and
The unofficial Horn Dance Page

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