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Author Topic: Social Dancing  (Read 14060 times)
QPO
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« on: May 14, 2009, 10:30:27 PM »

Found this arcile on a dance site when looking for Australian syallbus
Social Dancing - Art or Sport?
by: Daniel Pittman
Recognizing that true objectivity for one's passion and profession is impossible. I offer here my admittedly biased views on the status of social dancing. The status I refer to is not the amount, quality or style of dancing, but the valuation and classification of dancing in the minds of the public and the establishment.

Social dancing (Ballroom, Latin or Country & Western) is variously classified by its proponents as a hobby or pastime, leisure recreation or entertainment, an art form, or a sport. Dancers generally accept that "pastime" (def - any activity that makes time pass agreeably) or "recreation" (def - a means or activity to refresh one's body or mind) are apt descriptions, but hold firm in the belief that "art" and/or "sport" are more comprehensive and accurate descriptors.

"Art" is defined as "the quality, production, expression or realm of what is beautiful - a field, genre, or category of this realm - a branch of study, especially one of the fine arts". The last phrase introduces the crux of the difficulties for social dancing. I have been in contact with many private and government bodies devoted in whole or in part to the development and support of the arts. Although a staggering number of dollars are essentially donated each year to musicians, painters, sculptors, as well as to ballet, jazz and modern dance troupes, social dancing is not considered eligible, since it is not a "fine art". I have been told by individuals who do qualify for "assistance" that they deserve funding since they practice arts which cannot support themselves through tuitions and performances. This struck me as equivalent to government funding for a manufacturer of 8-track audio tapes, justified by the lack of public demand for the product.

Today there is a strengthening movement by dancers to have social dancing recognized as a sport, but there are significant hurdles to overcome here as well. "Sport" is defined as "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature". Competitive dancing would certainly seem to fit the bill, but somehow falls short of the requirements of funding bodies as well as journalists and broadcasters. Were it not so ironical, I might find it amusing that rhythmic gymnastics and ice dancing are recognized Olympic competitive sports, while partnership dancing is not. On a brighter note, an international organization called Dancesport 2000 is currently lobbying the Olympic Organizing Committee for acceptance of competitive ballroom dancing as an Olympic demonstration sport - this is the same classification that freestyle skiing originally enjoyed before full recognition. Apparently progress is sporadic and slow, so don't hold your breath, but it might help to keep your fingers crossed.

Most often the acceptance of social dancing under either of the above categories is obtained only in the alternate camp - sport bodies decline dancing because it is an art form, and vice versa. The solution to the matter lies not in sanctioning from some august and obscure committee, but in the perception of dancing in the collective minds of the public. Any normal person readily accepts that golfing requires putting practice, tennis requires volleying practice, and martial arts require exercises and years of study, but dancing seems to be excluded from this philosophy. Many non-dancers are under the impression that one can become a proficient dancer through one or two quick classes. Students who have been taking lessons for 4 or 6 months often shock their friends, who can't imagine that they haven't learned how to dance in that time. This is not the case everywhere - in most of Europe everyone is introduced to social dance at an early age, and at least rudimentary dancing skills are taken for granted as much as common table manners. Dance competitions are commonplace and frequent, and thus dancing has gained public acceptance as an art or sport activity. Unfortunately North America has failed to adopt this attitude, especially, it seems, in western Canada. Here dancing is usually overlooked as a standard social grace or pleasurable and worthwhile pursuit, and mainly discounted as a skilled activity. If social dancing is to be recognized by the general public in what we deem an appropriate fashion, then the solution is simple - get it out to them and get them involved.

In keeping with this spirit, I feel that the best thing that has happened to social dancing in years is the advent of Country & Western as a popular activity - not since disco has the public been so enthralled by partnership dancing. I further feel that since the establishment of C&W music and culture pre-dates the current fad, then it will avoid the latter's ignominious end. We must encourage fledgling Two Steppers to fulfill their desires, but we also have the responsibility to help them make the most of the experience. We must try to guide them to learn not only the "coolest moves", but how to enjoy the dance form to its fullest by endeavoring to seek quality instruction and to apply themselves to the development of sound dance skills. We must also encourage new dancers and even potential dancers to attend or support local dances and local competitions, such as the 90's Ball, the Calgary Open Dance Competition and the Calgary Country Dance Stampede, since these functions are some of the most attractive and impressive showcases of social dance in our community. I also think that it is time for us all to make a conscious effort to do our part to overcome prejudices within the social dance community, to break down the barriers between the separate disciplines and combine and coordinate our efforts to the common goal - the establishment of social dancing within the collective social consciousness as a desirable and accessible activity, challenging yet rewarding, inexhaustible yet obtainable, and, of course, both an art form and a sport. So do your part - get out there and promote dancing!

http://www.centralhome.com/ballroomcountry/social_dancing.htm


Comments?
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QPO
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2009, 10:33:05 PM »

In australian the C & W component is not strong, that I am aware of...
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QPO
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2009, 05:53:16 AM »

Do you choose your social dancing venue carefully? or do you just go to the nearest one even if it is not the best quality. After years of social dancing, I am now very selective as to where I go.

I only go to venues now who choose good music, also where it is likely not to be crowded, so there is plenty of floor space.

What is it that you are looking for in a Social Venue
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StageKat
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2009, 10:48:11 PM »

If I go out with a bunch of friends that dance... doesn't matter... just give us a floor and some tunes and let us burn the floor...(sometimes we don't even need an official dance floor) If it's just a few of us... or if it's a night when we can hit the city (Chicago is about 45 min from me) then we hit someplace special which is ALWAYS a good time! We like to watch as much as we like to dance in the "cool" social places!
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QPO
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2009, 02:51:46 AM »

tonight we are going to a venue where we know it will be very busy so it will be a soical night, we know that dancing will be poor so anything better than that will be a bonus
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elisedance
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2009, 07:06:01 AM »

[is there a reason why this isn't this in the social dancing board?]
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nonfinity
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2009, 12:06:01 AM »

In response to reasons why social dancing has not been considered either an art form or a sport I would say that because most social dancers are neither athletes or artists. My experience is that of social salsa (as opposed to dance sport salsa or mambo) and I also do not intend that to be a slight. Many people come out to dance to enjoy the feeling, the people, the atmosphere, etc etc etc... however if you rub a brush against canvas simply because you like the feel, that does not make you an artist. There are also few that actively train outside of their dance time for the purposes of increasing their dancing ability... when is the last time you went to the gym and saw people practicing body isolations?

For my understanding, dancing is more closely aligned with the concept of art than sport and so I seek to be an artist. It is a difficult path, though, because it requires a significant knowledge base (both of the music and of the dance that one performs with the music) and it must happen instantaneously in time with the music. Even if you are successful, it is often indistinguishable to the general populace from non-artistic dancing.

So I guess my stance on it is that social dancing itself should not be either a sport or a fine art. However, it should also not be categorically ruled as neither.
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cornutt
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2009, 01:28:15 AM »

So I guess my stance on it is that social dancing itself should not be either a sport or a fine art. However, it should also not be categorically ruled as neither.

First of all, welcome to PDO, nonfinity!

You make a good point.  Social dancing in itself can't really be considered a sport, since there is no criteria for measuring or scoring it --- in other words, in a social dance, how do you know when you "won"?  You know it when it feels good, but someone else's definition of "good" might not agree with yours at all.  As for being an art form, social dancing is mainly done for the benefit of the dancers.  If there is an audience and they enjoy watching the dance, so much the better, but that usually isn't the point. 

However, social dancing can be thought of as a "latent" sport or art.  The basic components of both dancesport and exhibition dancing are there; what is mainly missing is having the appropriate structure overlaid on them. 
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QPO
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2009, 05:02:36 AM »

In response to reasons why social dancing has not been considered either an art form or a sport I would say that because most social dancers are neither athletes or artists. My experience is that of social salsa (as opposed to dance sport salsa or mambo) and I also do not intend that to be a slight. Many people come out to dance to enjoy the feeling, the people, the atmosphere, etc etc etc... however if you rub a brush against canvas simply because you like the feel, that does not make you an artist. There are also few that actively train outside of their dance time for the purposes of increasing their dancing ability... when is the last time you went to the gym and saw people practicing body isolations?

For my understanding, dancing is more closely aligned with the concept of art than sport and so I seek to be an artist. It is a difficult path, though, because it requires a significant knowledge base (both of the music and of the dance that one performs with the music) and it must happen instantaneously in time with the music. Even if you are successful, it is often indistinguishable to the general populace from non-artistic dancing.

So I guess my stance on it is that social dancing itself should not be either a sport or a fine art. However, it should also not be categorically ruled as neither.

Welcome to PDO great to have your input.

It is interesting and many have a view I see it like a ballet which I call physical art, social dancing is exactly what it says soical and dancing...most are there for an enjoyable evening and thats what we want. people up and dancing. :-)
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elisedance
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2009, 06:01:52 AM »

the sport in social dancing is often not related to dance at all Cheesy

but people are there for different reasons - excercise, socializing, just to get out, learn a few steps, 'meet and pair', and also some are there to practise dance tecnique or work on their competition routines or floor craft skills.  Its a big tent...
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Vagabond
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« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2009, 11:15:52 PM »

the sport in social dancing is often not related to dance at all Cheesy
I have to disagree with this statement, there is sport in social dancing. Each of the participants are doing it to socialise and to stay fit. I agree it is non-competitive but as with jogging it is a sport indeed. Also because one doesn't show frame, picture, flight etc doesn't mean one isn't dancing. I think it is arrogant to assume only dancesport is dance.

Neither should we forget that dancing was an activity way before there was dancesport, some estimates are that it is at least 70,000 y.bp
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elisedance
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2009, 10:23:51 PM »

I suppose it depends on how you define sport - or maybe more accurately, the many ways sport can be defined.  The way it is used in dancesport is definitely as a competetive event with a more-or-less measurable outcome (there is an assumption that judges can distinguish good form less good dancers). 

The sport in social dancing would seem to be more along the lines of inter personal competition or determining a social pecking order.  I don't think thats the same. 

And NOONE said that social dancing isn't dance, one might make a better case against dancesport....
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QPO
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2009, 12:45:46 AM »

tomato...tomarto....  Roll Eyes
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elisedance
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ee


« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2009, 04:26:48 AM »

...tomaaahto.... Smiley
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
QPO
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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2009, 09:36:02 AM »

went to a social last Saturday had 200 people, decent size floor, but lots of shufflers. can't step it out, cant use arms....so it then has to become exactly that Social and chat with friends and don't dance everydance. Roll Eyes
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