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In the year 1600, William Kempe put on his best bells, and with taberer Thomas Slye in tow, set about Morris dancing from London to Norwich, a distance of roughly 100 miles. Kempe was a fool in the grandest sense, a paid entertainer renowned for the cut of his jigs and the vitality of his "late Morrice," as he wrote in his chronicle of his journey, Nine Daies Wonder. It may well have been Morris dancing's finest moment, as Kempe drew huge crowds all along the route, and no younger dancer could match his pace. Four hundred years later, Morris dancing still packs 'em in, as you'll see when you attend the Capering Roisterers' presentation English Morris Dancing: Fools with Bells On. The traditional English dance features hopping steps and the choreographed use of swords, sticks, handkerchiefs and hobbyhorses — it's a hoot. The Capering Roisterers invoke the spirit of good Will Kempe at 12:15 p.m. in room 222 of the JCPenney Conference Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-5699). Admission is free, and light refreshments are served.
Mon., Sept. 29, 2008