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Some notes on Roy's collection
Roy Dommett took up an interest in Morris Dancing partly because it was utterly unrelated to his (highly classified) work at the Royal Aircraft Establishment.  His early film collection portrays a unique record of dance and community events in the 1960's, though there is not much from the first half of the 1970's.  Roy caught (was part of) the "70's revival" and made a systematic attempt to record representative performances from "good/interesting" sides.  He focused on recording dances for which there was no extant notation and those characteristic of a new or unusual repertoire.  These included anything with "interesting" or unusual music and rhythms.  He also attempted to record the context for the event, together with the costume, audience and locale.  Roy aimed to record source material for study, and was keen to identify patterns, themes, styles and variations. 

It should be noted that much of Roy's notation was not originally intended for publication "as is" - these were personal records of interesting source material for workshops and as inspiration for foremen and sides.    Roy himself writes...

For over 30 years [now 50!] I have been making notations available for morris dancers from manuscript and performance gained from all over the world as well as some own compositions. In this time I have seen and been to some extent involved with the doubling of the number of available Cotswold traditions and the creation of the modern traditions for NW, Garland, Border and Stave dancing, and all through this I have endeavoured to pass on the material that comes my way because of the need and without profit so that all may benefit.

I have normally not sought formal publication as I recognise that most of them are not my dances. I have been seriously criticised in the past for not indicating who generated the notes and also recently for liberally using copyright on notations produced from my word processor. The UK law is that copyright exists in a written description independent of what exists in its performance. A copyright notice is the only way of preventing exploitation by other people when I would want the dance notations to be freely available. Most of my notations were intended to stand alone and the collections are just bundles. Of course a full permission exists and can be assumed for reproduction for workshops, courses and teams’ usage. However it should be realised that the originating choreographer or team might have reservations on public performance, especially if constraints had been placed on them by a source when a particular dance was collected or taught. I know of examples where such warnings have been ignored. However their own public performance compromises their legal position and only courtesy protects them. But most teams would like exclusive use of their new material for a while. Unfortunately there always seems to be sides so insensitive that they would dance somebody’s dance in front of them. The trick is to develop the dance so that the source does not recognise it!

There was a move in the 1960’s to restrict knowledge of dances to their traditional territory but  history has shown that to be unrealistic. Also some early collectors wanted to screen who was suitable to receive the information. It may have been laudable but the type of people from whom the dances derived were not interested in their revival. It was also made difficult because the remaining sources had often been children or out of work when performers, and the revival was definitely not aimed at young people or the disadvantaged!

There is a realisation that being a replica of some other team is being second best, and that the desirable objective ought be the development of a teams own character and performance. However bootstrapping is not easy and being satisfactorily creative does not happen overnight. Hence the notations. Remember that they do not go down to the detail of movements, stresses, style etc, that is where the new team or leader has to contribute.

These are not intended as academic records, nor have I fussed too much about their appearance. Most had been produced originally for some other reason and I have kept such material together even though it appears repetitious. It allows it to be conveniently broken out again when it is desirable. The objective is to convey the idea of dances to act as a quarry for dance elements or as a starting point for new developments. They are not the dances as originally collected or composed, their publication is the collectors or choreographers responsibility, but as performed and mostly recorded at one single performance from one angle on film or video.

(end)
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