Morris dance teams in East Anglia will be re-enacting this Easter the extraordinary feat by the Shakespearean actor and clown, Will Kemp, of dancing from London to Norwich.
The event will start in the City of London at the Royal Exchange on Saturday, 15th April, with the presentation of a scroll from the Lord Mayor of London to be carried to the Lord Mayor of Norwich. Following Kemp's route as closely as modern traffic conditions allow, the dance will wind its way through London, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk to finish in Norwich on Saturday, 22nd April, with a presentation of the scroll to the Lord Mayor outside City Hall at 3pm.
Kemp performed his original dance for a bet. He was accompanied by a musician, Tom Slye, playing the pipe and tabor, and a referee, George Sprat, as well as his servant, William Bee. His wager was that he could dance the distance in nine days, though he spread his dancing over nearly four weeks. He then wrote a book about it all, called Kemp's Nine Daies Wonder.
The re-enactment will complete the distance in eight consecutive days. Eight or so bold dancers and two musicians plan to do the whole route, supported by the teams through whose areas the dance proceeds, who will dance in relays and perform in displays at various points along the route.
The event is supported by The Morris Ring, Open Morris, and The Morris Federation.
©2000 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers, The Outside Capering Crew