Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,
Steven
unzeugmatic

Brackley!

Hey, it's another Morris dance post, even though it's out of season for my team.

Team Fore Michael decided it would be fun to get together for a few weeks in the summer to dance some other traditions than our standard Bledington. None of us, including Michael, quite knew what this would be like, but the first attempt was great. Stupendous. A really, really good time.

I was so in the mood just to get out and dance. I've been working seven days a week, long days, no breaks, at heightened intensity to finish up my projects at work. I'm just now emerging from that tempest, although now I have to clean out my office and organize my files, which is a massive task. I still have one more project I need to package up, but the worst is over I think.

In any case, I badly needed to get out on Tuesday evening.

Douglas taught us Brackley, a tradition unlike Bledington. It's low and brisk and dapper, as a style. Hankies are twirled underhand. It's fast. When you dance one and only one tradition, learning a tradition where movements are different is something your brain and body resist. But then, after a while, you just relax into it. It's like dancing pickup late at night at an Ale. In fact, that was the point of the evening, to feel like good pickup dancing. And it did. I wanted to sleep in a tent when it was over.

There were some great things. Jack's kids were there, as were Anna Bean and the teenage Anna Kate, and they all joined in with us (because this wasn't a team practice, just a fun dance night). This meant we had two sets of dancers, one set mostly kids and one set mostly Braggarts. I would look over sometimes at the kids' set, and I've never seen those kids dance so incredibly well. For one thing, they had an advantage over us oldsters in being able to pick up new patterns. But the big thing was to watch the kids partnering with adults, adults who were just going all out in terms of energy and joy. The kids picked right up on this, danced hard and high in response. In fact, they danced so significantly better than I'd ever seen them dance or imagined they could dance that I'm all keen on trying to figure out more ways we can have cross-generational Morris where it's just fun for all. Watching Anna Bean dance across from her father, laughing with him as he tried to caper higher than her, was a surprise and a delight.

At first I was in a set that was mostly Braggarts, and each of us seemed to have a different aspect of the new style that we just couldn't get at first. But even at that, when I looked back at the dancers, I still saw six men moving in absolute tandem, as a team. Wow. Even in a tradition we don't know, when we are all making a variety of mistakes, we still looked and felt like a team. I'm going to have to ponder what I mean by that.

We all really love to dance. I forget to notice that, except, as noted, at pickup dancing when I look out and see all of my boys throwing themselves into the group dance.

When Michael first brought this up, I told him I'd prefer to see a sort of lesson plan for the summer, so there would be an organization to what we'd be doing and when -- because I liked the idea of learning and reinforcing. I didn't think one tradition per week would add up to much, since we'd barely get the hang of something before it would be over for good. But I was completely wrong. Even if the Brackley I learned does not stick -- and I know some of it will, it's moved into my bones now -- the pleasure of the moment was enough.

We'll be meeting again for the next two Tuesday evenings. Anyone is welcome to join us at the Cedar Cultural Center at 7pm. I'm sneaking off to spend a few days in New Jersey and New York in two weeks, but I've planned that trip so that I leave on a Wednesday morning and return on a Tuesday afternoon. I don't want to miss these precious few evenings.

Kudos to Michael for seeing this through. Dance for the sheer joy of it on a warm summer's evening is a rare treat.
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