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Waste not Wantage - bid to continue instructionals

ROY Dommett has taught his last Wantage instructional weekend, but already plans are being made to carry on where he and organiser Tony Forster have left off.

Over the years the intensive workshops and discussions - based at Wantage youth hostel in South Oxfordshire - have explored many of the more obscure areas of the morris, such as stave dancing, bacca pipes and the Great Wishford dance. Participants have been set challenging tasks, creating dances from scant notations and pushing at the boundaries of tradition.

Roy's also used the gatherings to expound his strong views on the way morris is performed.

Adrian Williams, the Morris Federation archivist, is now initiating a move to continue the weekends - though he says it'll be impossible to find a leader with Roy's extensive knowledge and practical skill.

"Roy's been wonderful at what he's done, but it would seem a great pity for the Wantage weekends to finish just because Roy has chosen to retire," says Adrian. "I shall put this feeling across strongly at the next Morris Federation committee meeting to see that it's carried on.

"I've had a few ideas about things that could go on at future weekends. There's a good body of people that come from one year to the next, and there's a natural momentum to it.

"I can't imagine there's anybody who can do what he does individually, so the weekend would have to have a more diverse co-operative feel, with different people contributing their expertise. Great Western could show how they've interpreted the Fieldtown tradition, for instance, and then someone else could show how they do it.

"We could have a dance-making workshop, perhaps, and take field notes and get people to make up a dance from them.

"And of course it would all be in the good surroundings of Lain's Barn at Wantage and the conviviality of the youth hostel."

Although Tony Forster has organised the last few gatherings on his own initiative, the job had previously alternated between the Federation and Open Morris.

"It's not just Roy who's giving up, it's Tony giving up all the organisation too," says Adrian. "He has parcelled up all the information and passed it on to the Federation, and he's said he would like something to happen with it.

"He's done a good job over the years and it's up to someone else to have a go now."

2000 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers, The Outside Capering Crew

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