Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Fingerprints, Snowflakes, Irises, and Morris Team Practices

You would think that one Morris practice night would be like any other, since the same group of men dances the same dances to the accompaniment of the same musicians. But no two practice nights are alike. How could they be, since no two dances are ever alike? That's the wonder of live music and dance that is not performance per se, and it is part of the compelling nature of what might seem blindly ritualistic to the naive.

But it isn't just that each dance has it's own character. The shape and feel of each practice is different for other reasons as well.

For this week's practice both our fores were out of town, and two of our musicians (one is married to one of our fores), and another musician had other obligations. So when practice began it was just six of us and one musician, which is quite enough and creates a practice with a minimalist and tightly-focused feel. Douglas took on the role of running practice, at which he is quite gifted. We stood in our circle and began practice by discussing pizza toppings. Douglas said that for each dance we worked on we could decide another topping for the post- practice pigfest at the new branch of Pizza Luce up the road from our practice location.

We warmed up with our basic "William and Nancy," and just before foot-up Douglas said, "Shut your brain off". And I did. I forget to do that most of the time, or more specifically I don't feel free enough to do that, as I have to concentrate so hard on the figures and the movements. But "William and Nancy" is so basic to our repertoire that I found that I could just flow along with the dance, even dancing first corner apprentice position. I've got to remember to shut off my brain now and again, in my dancing and in so many other areas of my life.

Three more dancers arrived a bit late for practice. Nine dancers is a good number for practice, because that enables each of us to dance two dances in and one dance out (a good pace for me). It remained a quiet, focused practice; when people were dancing out they would watch the dance carefully, and comment critically. For a while Russ took Nat over to the side to work on leapers, per Nat's request.

I'm not sore today, mostly because I violated one of my paramount rules of not holding back even at practice (you don't want to get into that sort of habit). But I'm residually feeling the effects of a chest cold (I had to miss practice last week) and pushing too hard caused me major coughing fits, which can be distracting to others besides me.

Then we went out to Pizza Luce and ate an awful lot. We had: shrimp and artichoke pizza, Italian sausage and goat cheese pizza, and spinach and smoked Gouda pizza. With two pitchers of British beer to wash it all down.
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