Usually when I show photos of my team I pull out an image of our flashy high-flying splitters. For example, this was taken at the Saturday show dance, of Douglas and Erik, a classic Braggarts image.
Or sometimes 4 or 6 of us at once (this was taken a couple of weeks before the Ale, and I'm the flyer on the left):
Or solo. This is me at a party a couple of weeks later:
Ok, now that I've gotten that out of the way I can return to the point of this journal entry, which is that in some of the Ale photos I saw some really nice if less flashy Braggarts moments, things we strive for but don't always achieve -- a sense of unity that, from within, feels wonderful.
To show what I mean I put in this photo of the Adderbury Morris Men who came to the Ale from England. They are a solid traditional team that is extremely precise in their hard fast sticking and even their basic stepping. This is a photo that I think shows how even their small movements are deliberate -- look how together those four guys in the front are. This is something they maintain throughout a dance.
The thing is, I don't always think the Braggarts are that precise of a team -- by the time we land from our splitters we are often too exhausted to keep that up. But then I see photos like this one -- from our show dance on Sunday. This is not a flashy step, but look how identically in the air we are (that's me cut off in the far right):
Can you see how, from within, that feels as if there is no gravity? I like how in this photo it looks as if that's easy to do. It's not.
Here's another photo where things look deceptively easy. During the chorus of this dance we all get down on one knee together in one beat and whack the ground -- but you can't really support your weight on your knee so this is a physically difficult move. Look at the three of us in the far line, feeling the dance together -- we're not Rockette precise, but I think it's clear that we're feeling this as a team. Quick down on the knee, quick two whacks, quick back up for more clashing. This looks like fun, when I don't think about how painful it actually is for bad-kneed pot-bellied me to do:
This photo I think makes it clear how physically difficult this is, to quickly get into a one-kneed position and remain there without ever putting your weight down on the knee. But again, note how we're feeling/moving together -- this is taken during an actual moment of fast movement, not in the final position:
I like this next one because even though it's not flashy or leapy I think it shows a sense of movement, of group movement. That is: This is not about individuals showing off at all, it only has meaning because of where we all are in relation to each other, bodywise. I talk about the importance of "partnering" -- notice how each group of two in this photo is completely focused in on each other. That is really what I love most about my team at its best.
I close with a rear view. This is a simple, basic, easy foot-down. I think this photo conveys a sense of dancing as a team, in an almost low-key way.
Each year I think I'm just getting too old to do this as I want to, that I am becoming a "greybeard dancer". I even see some evidence of this in some of the Ale photos. But thanks to all the generous photographers at the Ale I have a record here, of us from the inside, before I hang up my bells.