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21 minutes ago, Steve Mansfield said:

But if you’ve got a, er, mixed ability set in front of you, do you play to the best dancer, or the worst, or ... I try to aim at the middle. If I get roughly equal complaints that it was too slow and too fast, I reckon I’ve done a good day’s playing :) 

 

I've done that, and it usually just pisses everybody off.

 

Playing to the best dancer sometimes helps pull the rest of the side along.   And I don't get many complaints when I do this.

 

Years ago, I played for a side on which there were major disagreements about the proper speed. On one memorable occasion, we were in the middle of a dance we did all the time and - simultaneously -one dancer yelled "faster" and one yelled "slower."

 

The perils of a morris musician!

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Play to #1. They all should be following #1. If they’re not, that’s not your problem.

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From my limited experience, playing to the best dancer(s) is the way to go.  The other dancers can see this, from my admittedly limited dancing experience.  They (we) want to be like them.

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On 6/2/2020 at 9:16 PM, Steve Mansfield said:

But if you’ve got a, er, mixed ability set in front of you, do you play to the best dancer, or the worst, or ... I try to aim at the middle. If I get roughly equal complaints that it was too slow and too fast, I reckon I’ve done a good day’s playing :) 

 

Play for number 1 in the set.  They are leading the dance and it's up to them to give subtle and nuanced signals (the raising or lowering of an eyebrow, the slightest hint of an upwards or downwards gesture with the palm, or the frenzied shouting of a sarcastic comment*) so that you can adjust the speed as required.

 

For corner movements, where number 1 is not involved, if there is a big disparity in athleticism (e.g. if one of the dancers is under 65 years of age) then play to the one the audience would be watching, if only there were an audience, which there isn't, because it's a rainy Thursday evening outside a dead and alive hole of a pub.

 

*The traditional Dolphin MM verbal signals:

  • "A tad faster would be nice if it's all the same to you, Martin," is expressed by the traditional call of, "Come on, some of us have to be at work tomorrow."
  • "Just a gnat's slower if you don't mind, Nicholas," is expressed by the traditional call of, "Crikey, we'll have time to do another at this speed."
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(e.g. if one of the dancers is under 65 years of age)

...................made me giggle; but I remember you as a young Morris dancer , Mike !

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17 hours ago, Mikefule said:

 

For corner movements, where number 1 is not involved, if there is a big disparity in athleticism (e.g. if one of the dancers is under 65 years of age) then play to the one the audience would be watching, if only there were an audience, which there isn't, because it's a rainy Thursday evening outside a dead and alive hole of a pub.

 

*The traditional Dolphin MM verbal signals:

  • "A tad faster would be nice if it's all the same to you, Martin," is expressed by the traditional call of, "Come on, some of us have to be at work tomorrow."
  • "Just a gnat's slower if you don't mind, Nicholas," is expressed by the traditional call of, "Crikey, we'll have time to do another at this speed."

 

Yes - on corner movements, playing to the one the vast audience is watching - inevitably the most dramatic and athletic dancer.

 

Grunts and gasps are my guys’ usual mode of communication.

 

Watching number 1 doesn’t generally work for me, since it’s an ever-changing position, and often one of the venerable ancients will take that slot.  Generally, our foreman is the best and most robust dancer, and he can be anywhere in the set.  Rule # 1 : never piss off the foreman, who is always right, even when he’s wrong.

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On 6/5/2020 at 12:06 AM, Jim Besser said:

 

Yes - on corner movements, playing to the one the vast audience is watching - inevitably the most dramatic and athletic dancer.

 

Grunts and gasps are my guys’ usual mode of communication.

 

Watching number 1 doesn’t generally work for me, since it’s an ever-changing position, and often one of the venerable ancients will take that slot.  Generally, our foreman is the best and most robust dancer, and he can be anywhere in the set.  Rule # 1 : never piss off the foreman, who is always right, even when he’s wrong.

I am the Foreman now, and they do not seem afraid of pissing me off.

 

In my side, we have teachers for each of our core traditions, and usually the teacher of that tradition will dance number 1 and lead the set.  This is not an absolute rule, but there is a sort of unspoken understanding about who usually deputises.  Therefore, the person dancing number 1 is solely responsible for hinting to the musician.  Well, number 1 and the Fool — who is also me.  Being a dancing Fool, I have the opportunity to skip merrily past the musician and offer suggestions as if it's part of the show.

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6 hours ago, Mikefule said:

I am the Foreman now, and they do not seem afraid of pissing me off.

 

In my side, we have teachers for each of our core traditions, and usually the teacher of that tradition will dance number 1 and lead the set.  This is not an absolute rule, but there is a sort of unspoken understanding about who usually deputises.  Therefore, the person dancing number 1 is solely responsible for hinting to the musician.  Well, number 1 and the Fool — who is also me.  Being a dancing Fool, I have the opportunity to skip merrily past the musician and offer suggestions as if it's part of the show.

 

It's interesting how different sides approach things.  In the past, our fore danced maybe only half the time, and the number 1 position was pretty much whoever wanted to call the figures.  Our numbers are down now, so the fore is pretty much needed in every dance, but he can be anywhere in the set.  

 

 

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