Which Way is Up?

Update: I wrote this entry yesterday morning, and in the last day, a few things have happened that have tempered my enthusiasm a bit. But not much. Which is glorious.

I've realized that, while I spend a lot of my "real life" socializing time involved in various dance activities, I don't actually write about them in this journal. And it was something that, while I was in school, I mostly didn't think about much. But god, I dance a lot, and it's a huge part of "who I am" and "what I do."

One of the things, and perhaps the only really concrete thing, that has made this past, of being back in the town that I grew up in, is that the dance community that I've been involved in has been, well, sick, for far too long. Maybe it has something to do with personalities (actually, probably); maybe it has something to do with the anarchistic tendency of dance groups/organization (not an ideological point, but a reference that dance and other folk groups resist structure, and so organization and management must be, just a wee bit, heavy handed and always deft.) In any case, it's been stressful to have ones source of community and pleasure co-opted by angst. I have enough of that in my life.

I mean, really now, I have enough angst on tychoish, do I really need something else to complain about regularly? I think not.

But a couple of things are looking up. For starters, there are a couple of positive things happening to the various dramatis personae of the dance groups that I'm apart of. I use the word positive in two senses, first that I think the situation might improve as a result, but more significantly that no one has quit dancing (which has been a secret desire of mine for some time), but rather that additional people are (re)joining the community in a way that I think is wholly positive.

So I'm happy. I also have an interesting anecdote to share.

In border morris practice, we were starting to learn/write a new dance. This seems to be par for the course, as there isn't the same sort of organized repertory in border that there is in cotswold morris. Furthermore, we are a team of unique size, and body type, so it's useful to tinker with dances a little bit until the dances fit better. I should also point out that the border team is reasonably unique in that, the core of us has been dancing together for years.

Anyway, we were learning a new dance, and I rather quickly decided to suggest a change for a sequence so that the chorus (the distinctive figure in the dance) wasn't so static, basically by changing the orientation of the set for a moment. It worked. But it required us to rethink procedure: "Who goes first?" "Who has priority in this new situation,"

This is in and of itself not an incredibly difficult problem: often in a morris dance, you have options, and part of the job of organizing a team's style is making decisions about these options. For example, dances start on the left foot or the "outside foot" (the foot furthest from the center of the set, or your partner depending on the situation). Or in the case of the problem above: if you turn the set around, who starts the figure?

The interesting thing, is that there was no central decree, in this situation, we all new the answer, once we stopped to think about it. Because we had morris precedent, we just had to recall it and figure out how to apply it in this situation. Except, we just did it, no argument, no explanation necessary.

It was one of those situations that seems perfectly normal in the moment, but that you realize immediately as being completely absurd. It's these moments, and a few others, that help us to feel as if we belong to a community, and are delightful to experience. And those are the moments that I'd miss most if I stopped dancing.

Even if the drama lingers--which it surely will as "the good guys" don't have any balls left in play, and "the bad guys" have no interest in resolving it--I take great pleasure in having the ability to dance and have fun dancing. So there.

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