Failing to tread carefully

10th July 2009 at 01:00

The silly season reached even dizzier heights recently when, in a well-intended gesture of political correctness, a school barred a troupe of Morris dancers from performing at a school in Kent because of their blacked-up faces.

The troupe's routine is a traditional English folk dance from the WelshShropshire borders. It involves stepping, costumes, and painting the face. Which the school feared would cause offence. Simon Ford, one of the troupe, said: "Traditionally they used burnt cork, which was black, but if it was red, then we would have red faces, that's all it is."

The school had asked the dancers to perform without blackened faces, but they refused, say reports. Hazel King, head of Chantry Primary School in Gravesend, said they were in a difficult position of "weighing up any potential offence versus not wishing to compromise the Morris dancers' tradition."

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