The Midwest Morris Ale is committed to creating safe and welcoming spaces in our community where all members feel welcome. Our Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion outlines the policy of our organization, which also provides a framework for expectations in our community.
As individuals, we all want to be our best selves when interacting with other members of our Morris community. What does this look like? Do we have unconscious biases that we aren’t aware of? Some of these topics may be new, unfamiliar, or challenging. How should we talk about them?
The Midwest Morris Ale is sponsoring a series of panel discussions centered on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity. We are pleased to welcome panelists from our community with a wide range of backgrounds to share their thoughts and experiences. These discussions explore different aspects of diversity, with a particular focus on how these concepts are expressed within the Morris dance community, as well as in how we interact with our broader communities during public performances and dance-outs.
Panel Discussion 1. Inclusivity in the Morris Community
MODERATOR: Katie Leach (she/her)
Katie is the Squire of River Rats Border Morris. In her professional life, she is a school teacher in a predominantly minority community, and she is engaged in activism for diversity. As President of the Midwest Morris Ale, Katie worked with the Board of Directors to create the MWMA’s statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
PANELIST: Chris Bracken (she/her)
Chris is currently the squire of Rock Creek Morris Women in Washington, DC. She is very involved in developing tools for creating and maintaining diverse and inclusive culture at Youth Traditional Song Weekend.
PANELIST: Tango Lothrop (he/him)
Born and raised into a social justice lifestyle, Tango has experience with a number of projects promoting equity and inclusivity in the Twin Cities. He is currently the Squire and musician for Brackleberry Morris.
PANELIST: Bob Walser (he/him)
With a long history on more than a few Morris teams, Bob harbors a deep love for Morris culture and the spirit of community and human connection. He is currently a dancer and musician with Ramsey’s Braggarts in the Twin Cities. Bob is also involved with community farming projects and the Minneapolis Board of Education.
Panel Discussion 2. Morris Dancing and Queer Culture
MODERATOR: Tango Lothrop (he/him)
Tango is the current Squire and musician for Brackleberry Morris (Twin Cities). You can find him cooking, playing video games, and sewing when not partaking in the Morris, and he’s thrilled to be moderating this panel and to be a part of the larger DEI conversation.
PANELIST: Edwina Cooper (she/her)
Edwina dances with River Rats Border Morris and the Capering Roister (St. Louis). You can find her writing esoteric fiction, learning to cook, and doing origami when not partaking in the Morris. Her Morris journey and queer journey are closely intertwined, and she is just as excited to listen and learn on this panel as she is to share.
PANELIST: Sam Kleinman (he/him)
Sam is a founding member of the distributed, precision-focused, queer-majority team Braintrust Morris. Prior to that he danced with Capering Roisters, River Rats Morris, Renegade Morris (Philadelphia area), Maple Morris (distributed), and currently the Bouwerie Boys Morris Dancers (New York City). He is an active shape note singer when there isn’t a pandemic. Currently he is using up 1 kilo of yarn to knit a variety of items, and also writing. The Morris community is important to him and he’s excited to explore Morris Dancing and sexuality in this panel.
PANELIST: Steven Levine (he/him)
Steven currently dances with Ramsey’s Braggarts Morris Men (Twin Cities) and sings/plays for Great Northern Border Morris (Twin Cities). Previously he was an apprentice with the Moonwood Morris (defunct). When not partaking in the Morris, he is an avid pub and shape note singer, and collects cultural detritus of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. He is looking forward to recounting his historical and current perspectives of being out in the Morris community.
PANELIST: Ruth Temple (she/her)
Ruth co-founded Moonwood Morris and Sword, which was the first queer Morris team in the Twin Cities. She has also danced and/or fiddled for Uptown, and in California, Seabright Morris, Swords of Gridlock, RedTail, the Dead Ringers, and Twisted Sisters Sword. Ruth is also active in the English Country Dance community, and a passionate fiber artist and gardener. During the pandemic, she has enjoyed time spent bottle-raising a pair of kittens that she and her wife Lise M. Dyckman found under a fig leaf in their back yard.
Panel Discussion 3. Gender in Morris Dancing
MODERATOR: Sam Kleinman (he/him)
Sam is a founding member of the distributed, precision-focused, queer-majority team Braintrust Morris. Prior to that he danced with Capering Roisters, River Rats Morris, Renegade Morris (Philadelphia area), Maple Morris (distributed), and currently the Bouwerie Boys Morris Dancers (New York City). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Gender Studies, and is an active shape note singer when there isn’t a pandemic. Currently he is investigating a leak in the ceiling above the guest bed, which fortunately is covered by a tarp.
PANELIST: Denise Kania (she/her)
Denise has danced and played pipe and tabor on the Bells of the North for 41 years and has variously held offices of squire, bag, and foreman. She plays for the Braggarts and Great Northern Border. When not dancing or singing (Shape Note, pub singing) she can be found fixing or sewing on vintage and antique sewing machines.
PANELIST: Megg (they/she)
Megg has danced with a variety of Morris teams including Minnesota Traditional Morris, Uptown-on-the-Lakes, Bad Kitty, Mossybacks, Sound and Fury, and currently with Braintrust. During the pandemic, Megg has given careful thought and attention to curating the art featured behind them in their Zoom chair.
PANELIST: Marc Scovill (he/him)
Having danced on many teams and practiced or learned with even more, Marc has a deep connection with how many varieties of communities live within the Morris culture. He is currently a dancer with MTM, Great Northern Border and GuyZ with TieZ. He also lead the Board of Directors of Tapestry Folkdance Center for several years.