A few more observations for my fellow Dems on what I call "the Dance of the Adults" for my SCA friends.
Like many dances descended the English Inns of Court and Elizabethan Parliamentary times, the Dance of Adults begins as a stately pavane then evolves into a spirited corranto. The pavane has many mandatory figures designed to show off the grace, elegance and pomp of the most important players, who lead the procession. By contrast, the corranto is designed to show off one's energy and strength. The pavane is carefully choreographed, whereas the corranto is more improvisational. During the pavane stage, we will see all partners working in harmony. As the music picks up the pace and transitions, we will see partners begin to separate into their individual improvisational steps. This is where you will see the true partners work together, whereas the rivals will increasingly try to separate out for their own individual improvisations. As always, there is a danger that -- as the music picks up the tempo and dancers become less coordinated with each other -- accidents will occur (or worse, some dancer may deliberately try to trip a rival).
What distinguishes a skilled Master of Revels is the ability to detect such potential problems and diffuse them quickly and quietly by varying the tempo, using more skilled dancers to help the less skilled keep time, and discretely sidelining the odd troublemaker who will not otherwise contain him or herself.
As always, there will be critics carping on the sideline who think the pace is too slow, too quick, or who simply like to smirk and spread gossip. Sometimes the chatter from the sides is so loud it threatens to drown out the musicians. A skilled Master of Revels, however, knows to ignore the carping critics and stay focused on bringing the dance to conclude with a gracious reverance.
For Bujold fans., It's the dance at the Emperor's birthday. And yes, as someone noted when I made a similar analogy previously, this is the last generation that will dance this particular dance by this particular set of rules.