Once Upon A Time: Florence Dances.

English Elizabethan clown Will Kempe dancing a...
English Elizabethan clown Will Kempe dancing a jig from Norwich to London in 1600 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time there was a crevice in a rock. Florence crouched inside that crevice to watch the May dancers. At this time there weren’t any electronics, but the drum and the flute gave beautiful music, and the dancers swirled and stomped with a great passion.
Florence wished with all his heart that he could dance with them, but he had been born with a club foot. His twisted left leg gave him a stumbling gait and made it impossible for him to do the smooth twists and turns of the dancers. So at the end of every May day dance Florence crept away, back to his parents’ farm.
At this time most people lived on the same farm all their lives. Florence had lived with his parents, and would inherit the farm when they died. He could work in the fields, balancing on his good foot and hopping as he needed to move forward. Of all the deformities, he could have had, Florence was lucky it was only a foot.
On this day the lord of the fiefdom had decreed that a new family move into the village. So it was with great interest that Florence watched a cart move along the dirt road into the village. It was with even greater interest that he noticed the young woman sitting at the back of the cart had a club foot.
Even though Florence wanted to talk to the young daughter, Sandra, he did not. The only times one could speak to another person would be at church or at festivals like May day. So Florence redoubled his efforts to learn how to dance. Every day he practiced at the May pole, trying to master the smooth steps of the dancers. Sometimes he had to practice near dark as the work of the fields took all his time. But he practiced none the less.
One day as he practiced Florence heard a cough. Sandra, carrying firewood, was watching him. “Why do you not hop the dances?” was all she asked. As he watched, Sandra did the May Pole dance hopping on one foot. “Is it allowed?” he asked. “It was in my village, for my father was the drummer,” replied Sandra.
Together they practiced the May Pole dances. Sandra and Florence quickly fell in love, but Sandra twisted the ankle of her club foot and needed a staff to get around for a time. In sympathy, Florence carried a staff of his own during the dance with her. They built the staff into the dance as well.
On the next May day, Florence and Sandra danced. At first Florence thought the villagers would laugh, but the only sound he heard was crying. He looked over and saw his mother weeping into a handkerchief. “I never thought to see you dance,” was all she could say.
The other villagers lined up to learn the steps and the hops of Florence and Sandra. When they were married, Florence and Sandra Morris taught all the villages around their new May dance. And so Morris dancing, which continues to this day, was born.


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