Lately at JP Catholic, there has been a fair amount of discussion about dancing, particularly with the increasing popularity of ballroom dancing. (It always was popular, but now the school has an actual ballroom dance club.) JP Catholic throws a grand total of two dances (at most) per quarter and they’ve never actually been formal “swing” dances. Usually the music comes down to less than 1/2 to 1/2 ballroom music leaving the final portion as modern hip hop or “pop” type music, which is annoying to say the least. This isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed my fair share of freestyle dancing, but it is my belief that ballroom dancing, particularly swing, is so much better at group dances for more than one reason.
Earlier in the week, my brother and I sat down and watched Take the Lead together, a film starring Antonio Banderas as Pierre Dulaine, a former professional dancer who comes to a school in New York to teach a group of problematic street kids how to ballroom dance.
In this film which is based off a true story, Antonio Banderas teaches the troubled teenagers that ballroom dancing is about respecting your partner. The man takes the woman on a journey and in doing so, it is his responsibility to owe respect. Yet the woman is not subservient to the man’s will by force, rather the woman has the opportunity to make a choice as to whether or not she wants to go on his journey and, in making her decision to do so, places all trust in the man she is dancing with. It’s a team effort and the couple moves as one.
He is absolutely right. Ballroom dancing is all about respect. It is also about artistry. As the leader, the man is the frame, he holds the dance together and wields the brush. The woman is the picture. She is the color that comes from the brush as she decides to follow her partner’s guidance. The frame and the picture work together to create the masterpiece.
My problem with freestyle dancing is that there are really no limitations, there’s no team effort, and it can have a tendency to become selfish, indulgent, and even suggestive. Now, don’t get me wrong, ballroom dancing can become that way too, but there is more of an opportunity for decisions amidst both parties.
I hope that I’m making my point clear and feel free to comment if you disagree, or even if you know what I’m saying and want to make it apprehensible.