Tony's Moment Of Spoof

Tony’s Moment Of Spoof

Entering the jig competition is a serious business – unless you’re TONY FORSTER. His spoof dances became a tradition in their own right. Here, he explains what put him up to it.

I watched with delight the very first John Gasson jig competition – and with a little disappointment too: delight at the excellence of some of the entries; disappointment at the ordinary tedium of others …

At heart I am a snob, I suppose. I have danced since 1980 – Cotswold, Molly and even a little Border – but increasingly I felt that morris had to earn its place in the modern world, unless it was to be a secretive activity, performed between consenting adults in private, and the Sort Of Thing One Did Not Confess at job interviews – or any work occasion. The best of what I saw that day seemed to me an art-form and a performance which sought to relate to its audience and which could be dropped into water-machine chat; the others were what television thought of when it thought of morris. I have an aversion for the stereotypical image (I hate baldricks) and cringed when I watched self-satisfied mediocrity which acted as if the fact they were performing a traditional (whatever that means) dance was justification in itself for inflicting it on the innocent public.

So I looked for excellence maybe, but above all for entertainment, connection with the audience, making it worth watching for the casual and ignorant passer-by. I didnt see enough … I did see some smug pomposity.

I knew I could never aspire to excellence – but I could make people laugh, maybe, and even make them think a little about what they were doing and why. So the next year, I entered the jig competition wearing obscure fancy dress, and did a spoof jig. And the next year and the next in fact, I did it for about eight years.

In those years I wore silly hats and dresses. I did a brush dance – a toothbrush dance mainly. I sang Zebra riding for my wife dancing in the zebra which she uses as Pig Dyke Mollys animal. I did a tango with a partner consisting of newspaper-stuffed tights and dress, who gave me some problems (so did learning the tango).

I acquired an obscure and warped fan-club. I hope I made people laugh. Was it worth it? I enjoyed it and so did some of my audience. I was exploring aspects of morris performance which were sometimes ignored. I was pleased when first the Innovation and subsequently the Audience Appeal prizes were created. I was delighted when much better dancers than I am did their own spoof jigs.

Above all, I am grateful to Chris and Tracey Rose for indulging me in my silliness. In the end Chris presented me with a consolation tea-mug and strainer, which I understood to be a hint …

Tony Forster
Boss Pig Dyke Molly