When the side that they were with folded due to lack of members, Andy began to think, ‘wait a minute – I could create a morris side.’ Whilst pondering this thought, they visited the Great Bustard Group in Salisbury and were enchanted by the reintroduction programme of these wonderful birds. They bought up lots of the badges and with Andy’s knowledge of the Bustard being featured on the flag for the county of Wiltshire (as designed by Mike Pryor) the name of the side was sealed. Great Bustard Morris of Wiltshire!
It took three or four attempts to recruit enough people to begin with; but then it just seemed to take off! The costumes had been carefully designed and made by Liz, and they both wished their side to be the most smartly turned out morris side in Wiltshire, if not further afield. Resplendent green and gold baldricks, colourful flowery hats and shiny black shoes are their kit. They dance not just with the ordinary white hankerchiefs, but with additional green hankies too. To contrast with the hanky dances, they chose to do stick dances aswell. Using hazel sticks for some of the traditional dances, and axe handles, for the Bustards home-made dances. The axe handles are sturdy enough not to break easily and give a good loud clash!
Andy and Liz invent their own dances, mostly in the style of Cotswold Morris (Wheatley and some from Adderbury. But they are not adverse to including ones from the Border, or hooligan dances such as Tinner’s Rabbit. But getting back to the home-made ones, they try to raise awareness of the Bustards every time they dance, explaining how it is featured on the Wiltshire County flag and how it was Wiltshire’s native bird. Uniquely, the Squire, has created two new dances in honour of the Birds.
One dance called the ‘Bustards Nest’, features the dancers taking on the role of the chicks, looking left and right for the parents bringing them food. Spinning round in their nest and stomping their feet when none is forthcoming.
Another dance (Flights of Fancy) features new dance figures such as ‘Wings’ which is unique. It begins with 2 dancers flying out behind their neighbours. Then all 4 of those dancers flying out in V shape to form a line with the remaining two dancers. This gives a line up of 6 dancers facing the audience – totally new in Morris, and then they perform a chorus all in line behind one another. This looks great to see.