Lines and shape of the set
This is something that several of the teachers, particularly Ian Ambrose, have been emphasising for a long time. Straight lines are an important part of what makes a Morris side look like it is a team rather than a motley group. The ways to get the lines straight are:
• • Start off with the lines straight. Take a look around for some landmarks in the hall (or the performance area) so that you can re-form the set to the same size and shape, and in the same place, at the end of each figure or chorus.
• • The lead musician should be a fixed landmark along the central axis of the set, however many supporting musicians there are.
• • Move to a definite place in each figure. Ironically, untidy lines are often caused by the most enthusiastic dancers, who go further forward than the others. Hint: the people who have to correct by going a bit further will find it easier than those who have to stop and go back a bit.
• • Move at the same speed as your fellows. In most figures in most traditions, the dancers surge forwards at the start of a figure, then slow down as they reach their destination. If you dance from A to B at a constant speed, you will usually be out of line.
• Adjust the lines when
• you get there. There is usually time to straighten the lines during the back steps, the jump, or the capers.
• Most important: look up and down the set, because the best rules in the world won’t make the lines straight unless everyone follows them. Even if you are in the right place according to the rules, if you are out of line then it is easier for one person (you) to make the adjustment. Apart from that, looking up and down the set instead of staring into the middle distance will show the audience that we are working as a team. Most non-dancers don’t see the technical niceties, but they do notice if we’re dancing together as a team and enjoying it.