No minor morris trip

Whaley Water Weekend, the Boggart's Breakfast morris team dance in the pouring rain
Whaley Water Weekend, the Boggart's Breakfast morris team dance in the pouring rain

TWO Sheffield folk dance teams are back in the city after trips of a lifetime to the Arab state of Oman.

Pecsaetan and Boggart’s Breakfast, selected as two of the best teams in the country, performed with teams from Newcastle and Norfolk to showcase the different styles of traditional English dance.

It opened the eyes of audiences in Muscat and Salalah to a group of women dancing around with hankies and sticks and a mixed team in ragged jackets, painted faces and big sticks – and it appears the trip was a great success, not least from the point of view of the two Sheffield morris teams.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” says Jess Arrowsmith, of Pecsaetan. “It was different to anything we have ever done before.”

All the costs were met by the Omani Ministry of Heritage and Culture.

“We stayed in a five-star hotel. They really looked after us,” adds Jess. “The Omani people were very friendly. I don’t think they have ever seen anything like what we were doing. There was a lot of applause so they must have liked us.”

The performances were advertised on giant billboards outside the airports – something that felt very surreal to the dancers who are used to a far lower-key reception at home – and they were orchestrated so they resembled a Riverdance-style format and slickness. Several members of the Omani government watched the action.

Val Huzzard, of Boggart’s Breakfast, says: “It was a truly wonderful experience, a trip of a lifetime.”

There were ten members each of Pecsaetan (meaning people of the peaks), who perform Cotswold morris and meet at Walkley Community Centre on Tuesdays. Boggart’s Breakfast (a boggart is a malevolent spirit) perform Border morris and meet at Burton Street in Hillsborough on Mondays. They were joined in Oman by rapper dancers with bendy swords, molly dancers and three champion clog dancers.