Morningstar

Morningstar originated with the Shropshire Bedlams, and is the dance that introduced the Hounds to Border Morris in 1990. We learned it from a videotape as a single-stick dance, then discovered that one dancer could take the place of two by holding a stick in each hand. This makes the (already complex) sticking even more complicated, but the results are worth the work. We were told by Wicked Stix during their 1998 visit to the U.S. that they had “nicked” our version of the dance and brought it back to England, thus completing the cycle.

The Hounds have a version for 4 dancers and a more complex version for 3 dancers involving stick-tossing heys! The sticking for this dance is quite difficult to get “up to speed”, but the figures are relatively easy.

Source: Originally a single-stick dance by the Shropshire Bedlams. Collected by the Hounds from a Mixed Morris Ale workshop videotape in 1988. Adapted by the Hounds to a double-short-stick dance in 1990.

Tune: Morningstar (Bledington) as A(AB)3A (A=sticking, B=figures).

X:1
T:Morningstar
R:hornpipe
H:Used as tune for Shropshire Bedlams' "Morning Star" 
H:The Hounds use the Bledington version rather than the one transcribed
H:in John Kirkpatrick's "Opus Pocus"
C:Traditional.
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:G
GA | BcBG E2 FG | ABAF D2 GA | BcBG E2 AF | D2 G2 G2 :|
GA | B2 B2 d2 d2 | egfe dcBA | GABc d2d2 | egfe d4 | 
B2 Bc d2d2 | egfe dB G2 | ABcA FGAF | D2 G2 G2 :|

Variants: The Hounds do this for 3, 4, and 8 dancers.

Four-Person Version

Formation: A square set of 4, each with 2 short sticks.

Sequence: Once to Yourself, Stick in Pairs, U-Shaped Hey, Stick in Line, Hey in Line, (reorient to face up and down the set), Stick in Pairs, Hey in Line (across the set), Stick in Line

Stick in Pairs: No stepping.

  • T=together: clash your own two sticks together, with the sticks held “vertically” and the right-hand stick closer to your body.
  • A=across: clash both your partner's sticks with yours, sweeping your sticks from right to left.
  • L=left high: point your left-hand stick over your partner's head and your right-hand stick at their toes and clash both forehand.
  • R=right high: point your right-hand stick over your partner's head and your left-hand stick at their toes and clash both backhand.
  • The sequence is | T A L L | A T R R | T A L L | A T R - |, and repeat.
  • Helpful hint: during both “left high” and “right high”, both sticks move clockwise.

Stick in Line: No stepping. Your two sticks remain parallel.

  • L=left: both sticks clash to the left, so your right-hand stick clashes the right-hand stick of your partner, and your left-hand stick clashes the left-hand stick of the person to your diagonal left. Both sticks sweep right to left.
  • R=right: swap left and right in the preceding.
  • CL=center from the left: both sticks clash with your partner's, sweeping from left to right.
  • CR=center from the right: both sticks clash with your partner's, sweeping from right to left.
  • LL=left from the left: like L, but with the sticks sweeping left to right.
  • D=down: sweep the sticks in a smooth arc to the right and down to point at your partner's toes, clashing both your partner's sticks by sweeping right to left.
  • The sequence is | R L CL CL | L R CR CR | R CR CL L | LL CL R D |, and repeat.

U-Shaped Hey: Face up and down the set and pass right shoulders. At the top of the set (by the musician) face across and pass left shoulders; at the bottom, turn in place over your right shoulder but do not cross. Repeat a total of 4 times, ending back in place.

Hey in Line: Move to the centerline of the set as if to pass right shoulders with your partner, then turn to your right. Do a full hey in line, starting by passing right shoulders with your partner. End by passing right shoulders with your partner, then looping back to place.

Three-Person Version

Formation: A triangular set of 3, two dancers with 1 short stick and one dancer with 2 short sticks.

Sequence: Once to Yourself, Stick in Pairs, 1 Toss Hey, Stick in Pairs, 4 Toss Hey, Stick in Line, 7 Toss Hey, Stick in Line.

Stick in Pairs and Stick in Line: These are derived from the double-stick version of Morningstar. The 2-stick dancer does the “usual” double-sticking. The 1-stick dancers stick as if they were the left and right halves of one person who was doing the usual double-sticking. (The 1-stick dancers are actually doing the original sticking of the Bedlams' 8-person dance.)

Stick Tossing Heys: The 1-stick dancers back away from each other while the 2-stick dancer moves between them, turns right, and starts a right-shoulder hey for three. Dance a whole hey, but leave out the very last loop (there won't be time for it), ending back in the same place in your triangle and facing in the proper direction for the next sticking. The stick tosses (described below) will move the extra stick one place counterclockwise in the triangle each time through the hey. Helpful hint: to avoid “bunching up”, if a stick is to be tossed to you, don't move toward the center until the stick is tossed.

  • 1 Toss Hey: The second time that the 2-stick dancer crosses the middle, they toss one stick to the dancer they're approaching. The rhythm is “… & 7 & 8 toss 1 & 2 & …” .
  • 4 Toss Hey: The second time that the 2-stick dancer crosses the middle, they toss one stick to the dancer they're approaching, who (when they get to the middle) tosses it to the next, and so on for a total of 4 tosses. The rhythm is “… & 7 & 8 toss 1 & 2 toss 3 & 4 toss 5 & 6 toss 7 & 8”.
  • 7 Toss Hey: The first time that the 2-stick dancer crosses the middle, they toss one stick to the dancer they're approaching, who (when they get to the middle) tosses it to the next, and so on for a total of 7 tosses. The rhythm is “1 & 2 toss 3 & 4 toss 5 & …”