Rhubarb Tarts were first baked in the Summer of 2004 at Bridgenorth Folk Festival- you could say it was a mutual yearning to dance Molly. Rhubarb because we hail from the famous Rhubarb Triangle in West Yorkshire twixt Rothwell, Morley and Carlton, close to the cities of Leeds and Wakefield. Tarts because most of us dance with other Morris sides
Molly dancing is primarily associated with the Cambridgeshire Fens where it was last recorded in 1933 danced at Little Downham near Ely. It is also well documented from Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire. It was traditionally danced on Plough Monday by farm workers cadging some extra cash and sustenance from the well to do in the depths of Winter.
Observers might think that the dances were parodies of social dances of the gentry, participants dressing up as the 'Squire' in top hat and dress coat with a comic 'Lady of the manor'- a man in women's attire, the Betsy or Molly. The rest of the troupe would don a disguise of sooty faces to evade recognition by their erstwhile employers. Proceedings were often rowdy and drunken with the likelihood of having the front lawn ploughed up if no hospitality was forthcoming! The Plough Stotts of 18th Century East Yorkshire have strong parallels with the Fenland tradition.
Rhubarb Tarts aim to enjoy ourselves and entertain at Festivals and Street Fayres with our take on the Molly Dancing tradition. We have a repertoire of dances borrowed from several eminent Molly revival teams- Ouse Washes, Gog Magog and Flash Company. Increasingly we are developing and performing our own self penned dances that give a nod to that versatile vegetable. We aim to spread the word on the wonders of Rhubarb and you will be entertained with informative facts on the varied uses over the centuries as well as snippets of interest about the dances themselves.
We wear the colours of that noble culinary veg - green,pink,red,yellow and make no excuses for our flamboyant and often ridiculous costume. We have a cast of characters- Martha Barrow, the right Reverend Rhubarb, a Cowman, as well as the delectable Tarts themselves.