Games Monitor

Skip to main content.

These clogs are made for walking...

Back on 13th August 2009, a Thursday not a Friday so unsure if this was the cause of the mishap, Anthony, London 2012 likes to keep things informal, the External Relations Executive, a kind of 2012 Foreign Office person, in a fit of poorly considered enthusiasm asked a question on the London2012 Blog: 'Who should get the chance to perform? Morris dancers for the traditionalists? Street dancers for the modern?'

Anthony was 'dying to see what role dance will play at the London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies and Britain has such a diverse pool from which to draw its talents.' Those responding in the comments on the Blog were similarly enthusiastic, several were particularly keen to see morris dancers at the opening ceremony. Twig positively cried out 'please allow a bit of Old England that is still alive and kicking to shine through in the opening ceremonies.'

Anthony was also enthusiastic about the music of John Cage offering the opinion that his 'piano piece 4 minutes and 33 seconds which is easily recognised as it has no instruments playing and no sound..' is 'now widely regarded as the cutting edge of contemporary music and dance', although he backed away from actually trying it out at London 2012. He may have missed a trick. As he put it: 'no sound (is) produced other than those of the environment in which the piece is staged.' That would have helped London's green credentials no end.

Anthony declared 'The Games will be the most fantastic showcase of art, music, dance, and sporting prowess.' One respondent, Wreva, was so overcome that she could only repeat what he had said word for word: 'The Games will be the most fantastic showcase of art, music, dance, and sporting prowess.'

John C was adamant: 'It would be an absolute travesty if the traditions of the UK were not fully represented in the Games ceremonies. I assume that the Committee will follow the presedence of every other games and show the traditional dances of all the UK.'

External Relations Executive Anthony urged the public to get involved: 'I think the Ceremonies team would be delighted to hear the nation's views! And, in fact, they've already started - including the conversations about Ceremonies they started with people right around the UK last year.' The Ceremonies team were also fantastically enthusiastic, so much so that they said they were driven by 'fire in the belly!' In his enthusiasm on a previous occasion Bill, the Director of Ceremonies and other things, had rather bizarrely claimed that P de Coubertin had 'led' a line of distinguished speakers, including Lenin, Marconi, Attlee and Beveridge, to speak at Toynbee Hall. He might be less enthused to hear that the Counter Olympics Network is also following in his footsteps and organising a CounterOlympics conference there on 28th January.

All this enthusiasm was slightly alarming but seemed to bode well for traditional morris dancing at the London Olympics. I thought I should check out the conversation mentioned by Ant but to my chagrin found a blank page! Surely not. I did a wider web check to see what was happening or what had happened in the conversation and found a Linkedin group supposedly keenly chatting about the subject. But while there did seem to be a group of 37, 38 after I joined, I couldn't find an actual conversation. In fact, when I searched for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony discussion, which was the group I had joined, I got the result 'Archive Search Results (0)'.

But surely Anthony's vigorous espousal of the cause and the high, by London 2012's standards, response rate of 10 comments would ensure England's traditional morris dancers would get to strut their stuff at London 2012's version of Fame?

But no, the whole idea seems to be considered a joke! As the Mail reported, when it asked whether morris dances would be included in the ceremony, 'an Olympics spokesman simply laughed'. In fact LowCoe had already airily dismissed the idea in Beijing in 2008 mocking the idea of 'Five thousand morris dancers' appearing at the London Opening Ceremony.

Indeed it seems the idea of a public conversation was also a non-starter. The same spokesman said ‘The artistic content of the ceremony is decided by the artistic director. That’s why we have taken on an Oscar-winning director who is one of the UK’s leading creatives. We will talk about some of the themes of the ceremony next year.’ So not much sign of a Conversation of the People there.

But the morris dancers aren't taking this lying down, so to speak. Peter Halfpenny of the Morris Ring wrote ‘There seems to be little interest in indigenous folk culture for the first time ever in the history of the Olympics.' All London 2012 wanted was 'youth involvement in particular, with a Hollywood shine on proceedings.' Paul Reece, their Olympics liaison officer, told the Mail: 'We want to put our indigenous culture on the map’ using the thoroughly modern invention of the flashmob.

And what of Anthony and the 2012 Foreign Office? Was he in on the joke from the start? He is strangely silent, which may be as well given the Morisco mob he has stirred up from the depths of their mysterious past.

These clogs are made for walking...

| | | |