Wild Rose Garland began performing in 1995. We are a part of a community of English ritual dance teams
in Portland, Oregon that includes Bridgetown Morris Men, Renegade Rose Morris and Iron Mountain Sword.
Our garland dances are part of a living tradition based on the Northwest Morris style that began in the cotton mills of northwest England in the 18th century. We also draw on early Victorian May Day celebrations that carry echoes of even older traditions. Many Northern European countries have centuries old traditions that involve dancing with floral boughs to herald the arrival of spring and summer. We feel honored to continue these celebrations into the 21st century.
Traditionally, Northwest Morris is danced in the wooden clogs that were worn by the women in the mills. Though there are teams that continue to dance in clogs, we have chosen soft shoes as they are adaptable to a variety of venues.
We dance with garlands, half hoops decorated with brightly colored silk flowers and ribbons. Our costumes are not strictly historical but rather inspired by the Renaissance period, and are sewn by our team.
Our dances are comprised of figures or patterns, executed in circles, lines and squares by anywhere
from three to ten dancers. The outcome is quite beautiful and if seen from an aerial perspective,
would have a kaleidoscopic effect. Our varied repertoire ranges from sprightly jigs and reels to elegant waltzes.
Because we do have a nicely varied repertoire, we are able to compile a dance program suitable for many venues and events. We have performed for fairs, festivals, memorials and weddings. Our venues have ranged from lawns and parks to dance halls and stages, both indoors and out.
The dances are drawn from a variety of sources. Some were taught to us by members of other garland teams, including Chesterfield Garland from Chesterfield, England, and some came from a book of collected English garland dances or were adapted from traditional English country dances. We also have a few original dances choreographed by members of our team.
We are most fortunate to have live music performed by accomplished musicians. Our tunes are primarily drawn from the rich tradition of dance music of the British Isles, as well as a few composed by our own musicians. Our instruments are an eclectic blend of concertina, recorder or flute, and bodhran, the traditional Celtic drum.