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New Worlds of Dance*

6 Jan

*Chapter 6 of Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement by Gerald Jonas

Dance through Time

Dance in most cultures requires the members to perform movements with other individuals that are approved by their society. It started as a conservative force or medium to rally the faithful to religious devotions, give public sanction to private feelings, define community standards of behavior and test their limits. Traditional forms of dance reaffirms time-honored ways of relating the members of the society to their institutions and gods. So when change threatens the values and customs of the society, the dances can also be affected. And since our world is now gearing towards globalization, societies who hold dear to their traditional dances proclaim their allegiance to the values of their dances as a whole, or at least with most of their members.

Social Dance

As part of growing, whether as individuals or societies, people will tend to leave their communities to “seek greener pastures”. Subconsciously, people take dance with them. This is when they arrive in a new place and start dancing during social events, they re-create an important part of their culture. And when people from different heritages gather and dance as a group, there is a fusion of dance forms. There will be a mix of traditional, social and modern dances and people will be amazed at how they were able to borrow and transform movements and reflect new social realities.

From the time that slaves were traded in America and Africa, to the courtesans from the Europe and the ballroom dancing to the upbeat music of the Americas, the traditional dances from these places have influenced one another by their history. The variety of the dances were fueled by the “dancing of the slaves” and was brought to the “big houses” or “courts” of the kings and queens. And during the Civil War in America, people needed to divert their attention and fear and have an outlet through dancing. These factors have contributed to the new worlds of dance and the history and heritage of each society have greatly influenced by it. The generation of today may not understand the background of the dances because they are too focused on the steps rather than understanding where the steps/movements came from. We should strive to educate the people since we are part of the waning new world and into the modern world.

Slave Trade Poster

 

French Dances

Romero and Grable

 

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Social Dance*

28 Dec

*Chapter 4 of Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement by Gerald Jonas

Social dancing socializes.

Social Dance

I definitely agree with this statement because I believe that dancing not only entertains people, but it also brings them closer to each other. The author said that we only become aware of how much our social dances reflect the values of our society when we come into contact with a society whose dances differ greatly from our own— that is why during global conventions, participants perform dances that will show the audience a glimpse of what their culture is about. As I mentioned from my previous entries, dancing is the universal mode of communication when it comes to culture, traditions and values.

Around the world, people dance during social occasions. This shows the importance of dancing to the society. These dances celebrate rites of passage, whether they are tied to a particular place or time or people just seeking out companionship during social events.

I was very interested in learning that in some cultures, dancing is a way to teach young people how men and women behave in their society. It shows practice in gender-specific roles and attitudes in a society. Dancing can also pass along social skills and practices, acceptable by the public. And all of these are done in the name of pleasure.

Another factor that intrigued me is how dancing was connected to sexuality. Since we all know that Christianity is a strict religion, their perception of hip gyrations and flapping knees are ways of attracting coercion between men and women. But they weren’t able to comprehend well that in cultures like in Cook Island in Rarotonga, even if they display movements such as these, men and women never touch each other. This shows how the dancers are able to fit their bodies together in matching curves without actually touching. That is one skill that is very special because it elicits control, power and focus from the dancers.

Dancing also gives women the power to control in the society. In Islam cultures, they celebrate the sexual nature of men and women. The essence of women being a dangerous being to social order describes the power of the feminine body. Men are vulnerable to female charms and lose control over their bodily urges. This idea makes women a strong persona in the society’s perception of sexuality. Women has the power to make the men weak, even if they deny it.

This chapter also talked about couple dancing. Since in some Western culture there are dances that require couples performing, the essence of being a leader and follower was always an issue. The one unbreakable rule of couple dancing is that the partners must move in sync or as a unit. Even if there are societies that say men are superior than women, when it comes to dancing, women can also take charge. They need to communicate with one another in order to not disturb other couples and distract the whole performance (in the case of waltz). The very structure of couple dancing is continuous communication and being aware of each other’s movements.

But since we are now living in a society where every  person practices independence…the social issue of the time, If no one leads, no one has to follow, applies. We are given a third option, which is to do what we want. And many are doing this just because they want to express their freedom from social strata and enjoy the pleasure that dancing is giving them.

Dance of the Realm*

7 Dec

*Chapter 3 of Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement by Gerald Jonas

Dancing has never just been a set of bodily movements that move through space, with music. It tells stories. Portrays different characters. Describes so many emotions. Defines social status. Distinguishes royalty to common people.

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