Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Some Mayday Illustrative Photos

It's hard to convey in photographs the sorts of things I describe when I talk about dancing Morris on Mayday. It's like taking a photo of a group of worshipers in a Protestant church as a way of explaining why they attend every Sunday. There are aspects of ritual and community and history and resonance that are not concretely photographable but no less significant for that.

Nonetheless, I provide some photos here, taken at the dawn dancing on Mayday morning by a man named Ralph Jenson, the father of one of the dancers in the local children's Morris team Northern Lights. It was cloudy at dawn, so these photos do not show the bright blue sky that characterized the glorious moments of the remainder of the day. With those caveats, I provide these as accompaniment to yesterday's journal entry.

At sunrise the musicians gather and all the dancers, past and present, make a big circle around the musicians and arrange themselves by two to determine their position. Then we dance Abram's Circle. This photo is meant to give a sense of how many of us there were. Hours before most of you were awake. There are five distinct kits apparent on the dancers in the foreground of this photo.

abrams circle

There is a figure in the dance in which the dancers circle in on the musicians, which is a scary sight from inside especially since the figure is often accompanied by shouts and wails. Unfortunately, the musicians are always playing at that point and not pointing their cameras. Here is what this looks like from the outside:

abrams encircle

After Abram's there is usually a mass dance, in which "all who will" join. Then each team dances individually, in the order of their founding (mostly), with the occasional interspersal of another mass dance. Here's the first mass dance, three sets of Morning Star. The musicians here (from behind) are me on bass drum (which helps with the mass dances outdoors), Shannon and LIbbie on box, and Bob on trombone. You can see that it's starting to get light.

morning star

Here's another mass dance (I'm not sure which) that gives a better sense of the scope of the mass dances when lots of folks join in:

mass dance

We usually get through two rounds of team dances ("show dances"). My team's first show dance was a new one this year, mostly choreographed by Douglas on our Day of Dance, called "Mrs. Widgery's Lodger", which is a Terry Pratchett reference. Technically I think just the tune is "Mrs. Widgery's Lodger"; I'm not sure the dance has a name. Here are Ironman Matt (note the muscular right thigh) and Wayne behind him doing our version of Bledington splitters. Although I'm not in this picture, I'm hoping to show here why I was so sore the next day. We do this figure a lot in our dances.

widgery splitters

Our second show dance was Lily Bolero. I'm in this set, looking awkward in the back corner, braid flying, up in the air. The only recognizable team members are Bob (whose face is in view) and Deb, who is playing the clarinet. Oh, and Jack, standing to the side.

lily bolero

So that's a tiny slice of my Mayday, made visible.
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