Is the modern functionality of the Social Couple Dances being gradually eroding by ignorant teachers in the social dance communities?
When innovative social dancers back in time created one of the first world famous couple dances “The Viennese Waltz” in the late eighteenth century it was from a new idea based on that the interaction of the dance should be LEADABLE and not as usual pre-choreographed as the earlier popular group dances: Country Dances/Contra Danza in Europe.
This new social COUPLE dance also differs from the social Country Dances/Contra Danza by the couple dancing together in an “embracing” position in front of each other and not just opposite each other or next to each other in the group dances. This position gave the dancers a much more intimate connection perfect for leadable interaction.
The first Caribbean Social Couple Dance based on this modern idea was the Cuban Danzon danced all over the Caribbean in the second half of the nineteenth century. During the long period with Danzon new Cuban social dances was evolved to the new coming musical genres as e.g. the Bolero, the Changüi and the Son from which both Bolero and Son spread to the rest of the Caribbean, to America and to Africa. During the twentieth century many new musical genres occurred worldwide and with them also many new social dances e.g. American Swing.
Please notice that the VERY SIGNIFICANT evolutionary change regarding these new social dances was that the basic structures was created with the feature that the dances should be leadable, so it wasn’t any longer necessary to pre-arrange the dances, that’s how the MODERN and much more functional foundation for social dancing was created. And as mentioned one of the first of them (not actually the first), more simple but very important dances was the Viennese Waltz build on this new evolutionary idea.
The previous pre-arrangements from the Country Dances/Contra Danza was then in this new context TRANSFORMED from the different pre-choreographed routines into new evolved basic structures which one should learn to dance from together with this new idea of leading and following.
It was then just a matter of getting some experience in this, then everyone was capable to socialize and have fun on the dance floor together without any pre-arrangements.
It was done by using inverted basic step for the lady and the man based on a common structure e.g. like the Cuban Son steps as most of you probably know because they are what we use in Cuban and American "Salsa". To these steps additional leadable elements was designed and evolved to fit the specific music genre the dance was created to and thereby became every new social dance the bodily expression of the specific music genre. The new dances became more and more advanced during time, just look again at Casino (Cuban "Salsa"), NY Mambo (American "Salsa") etc.
At that time these highly musical social dance inventors didn’t just wanted to dance the SAME dance to all these new different music genres occurring, they would consider doing that as unacceptable bad interpretations of the music which of cause always should have a unique evolved and fitted dance connected to it to get the right feelings and dynamics dancing to the specific music.
So as you can understand evolving on or creating new social couple dances is NOTHING anyone can or should do, especially not in a trice. It requires great experience and knowledge within social dancing and musicality if everything should be kept in a natural leadable structure, be understandable for the followers and also include the possibility for a creation of a functional, great and fun interactional and musical dance flow.
Today way to many do it anyway: Lees experienced social dancers and teachers together with dancers coming from the dance performance communities with very little experiences in social dances believe that they have the skills to mix, create and evolve new element to social dances with the result that the dance/dances become less leadable and harder understandable because these “new inventors” in lack of a solid knowledge about the interactional structures in social dances much too often use sequences with pre-choreographed routines taken from the basic idea of Show and Sport dances instead of using combinations of elements based on the modern functionality of the lead/follow system. The result is that ONLY dancers who have learned the exactly same routine can use it together on the dance floor just like in the old times Country Dances/Contra Danza and as mentioned in these times Show and Sport dances.
The problem is even bigger when they start to teach these thinks in the social dance communities also!
It becomes a huge SETBACK regarding the mentioned modern ideology of social dancing where everyone should be able to dance together and it is basically going back to the past pre-arranged dancing instead of using the much more flexible modern invention with the leadable social dancing.
A secondary problem with the many “new” sequences with pre-choreographed routines is that they very often are taken directly from OTHER dances and thereby they have not only lost their leadable structures according to the dance in which they are used but this dance then also lose some of its authentic musicality because the pre-choreographed routines are not made ESPECIALLY for and to the music to which they are now used.
The major problem with this gradual erosion of the modern social interactional lead/follow system including the weakening of the musicality of the dances are that it will make it more and more difficult to do spontaneously danceable interactions and musically interpretations and thereby it will also be more and more frustrating to be a genuine social dancer and to be a part of a social dance community in the future as I see it!
Nowhere else in our societies do we accept ignorant teachers to teach us, so why is it we accept it in the social dance communities, festivals and congresses?!?
If you need a hint? It’s the same reason that most of these less experienced teachers teach pre-choreographed routines to the students instead of modern LEADABLE dance elements!
Yes exactly it's ignorance about social dances, their functionality and their musicality.
It’s only natural that students don’t know all these details, they are here to learn!
But is it ok that TEACHERS don’t have this elementary knowledge about the ideological purpose of functional dance structures in the modern social couple dancing?!?
From Frank E's Blog about Social Dancing: https://www.facebook.com/FrankEBlog
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