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Bristol morris dancers take to the stage at the Olympic Closing Ceremony

Members of Rag Morris

Members of Rag Morris

Press release issued: 14 August 2012

Members of the University of Bristol Rag Morris were watched by millions of people around the world as they performed at the closing ceremony for London 2012, celebrating the best of British music and dance.

A total of 24 dancers took to the stage in the Olympic Stadium for the performance of their lives alongside Eric Idle.

It was the climax of months of secrecy and excitement. Rag Morris’ amazing journey began in February with an invitation to audition, having been put forward by the organisers of the Great Caper.

After a nerve-wracking audition, they were selected to perform alongside Blackheath Morris Men, who are based in south east London.

Getting ready for their biggest gig ever took a lot of time and hard work. Charlotte Smith, President of Rag Morris, said: “It’s been a fantastic opportunity to work with the creative team for the ceremony, to spend time in London when it is so busy and vibrant, and to take part in a performance that showcased some of the best of British music and dance to the rest of the world.”

Both groups danced in styles originating from the Cotswold Hills. Many villages have their own style of dancing and Rag Morris’ performance at the ceremony was based on that from Bampton in the Bush, in Oxfordshire.

Peter Rowlstone, Squire of Rag Morris, said: “Initially we were worried that the organisers would want to change our style or ask us to do something that wasn’t morris dancing, but that was not the case and it’s been a really positive experience. They wanted a morris side that would be bright, cheerful and vibrant, which suited our style perfectly.”

Hazel Crabb-Wyke, who works in the School of Social and Community Medicine, said: "It was the most amazing and surreal experience it is possible to have! We all loved every minute of it."

Rag Morris is a mixed morris side that has been based at the University of Bristol Students’ Union since 1981 and draws its members mainly from students, staff and alumni of the university.

Recent graduate Nadia Abdulla and fourth-year medical student Hermione Leach also took part in the closing ceremony. Hermione featured in the opening sequence, while Nadia joined prima ballerina Darcey Bussell in the final segment, which came just before midnight.

Nadia who graduated in Mathematics and Physics in July now runs PearlProductions, an events team formed by graduates and undergraduates at the University, and is currently working on a charity ballet called SYMBA to raise money for Meningitis UK and Macmillan Cancer Support, which will be staged in November.

Hermione who spent four months rehearsing for her special moment said: "Wow what an amazing day, and an incredible night of performance. I had the time of my life being part of the greatest show on earth. It was a huge bonus getting to watch the rest of the show live from the stadium, and meeting MUSE, Ed Sheeran, Beady Eye and the Kaiser Chiefs right before they took to the stage."

Rag Morris will be performing on College Green, Bristol, at 12 noon on Saturday [18 August].

Further information

Rag Morris received help with expenses from the University of Bristol Students’ Union (UBU), the University of Bristol Alumni Foundation and the University of Bristol Vice Chancellor’s fund.
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