Ballroom Dance > African-Americans in the Ballroom World

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by DanceMentor, Dec 20, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    You make a good point, Swing Kitten. Especially in the US, but also in some other parts of the world, Black people DO have internal debates over what to call themselves. Some prefer to be identified with the dominant culture (i.e. American or British, or whatever). But the generally accepted term other than in the US is Black. And in the the US, the current politically correct term is African-American. As youngsta noted earlier, there are always exceptions. But these are the generally accepted terms within the Black communities around the world. That said, why get hung up on labels? The real issues are more socioeconomic, IMHO.

    I also think Porfirio makes a good point. Black people DO have their own dances. I was raised in a household of seriously dancing people -- older brother and sisters, friends and boyfriends and later brothers-in-law. They did lots of dances, but no one ever considered teaching me a thing about waltz or foxtrot. The bop, yes. Foxtrot? No. One of my former teachers told me that HIS first dancing memory was of standing on his mother's feet, learning to do a box step when he could barely walk. There ARE valid cultural differences here, as well.
  2. KevinL

    KevinL New Member

    As the world has become more global, the concept of a "race" is becoming less distinct. Especially in countries where a fair amount of immigration occurs, various races mix together to make "people", not "black people" or "white people" or "yellow people". Are there any genetically distinct human populations? No. Different, yes, distinct, no.

    What really differentiates people is the culture where they were raised. Are southerners different from northerners? Sure. But it is the culture that makes them different (and the same), not the amount of melanin their skin produces.

    See? She says it differently, but it's the same point.

    I recall reading a high school /college thesis on the net 2-3 years ago that examined the socioeconomic differences in the dance experiences of blacks and whites in the US. I remember thinking that it was well written, but didn't save a copy, so I can't repost it here. Do any of you know about it?

    The details I remember (I could be recalling wrong) were that blacks tend to self-teach and therefore are more involved with "organic" dances like Lindy Hop, Salsa and Hip Hop while whites are more likely to take classes with formal teachers, and so tend toward more structured dances.

    Anyone else recall reading something like this?

  3. d nice

    d nice New Member

    I prefer the term Black to African-American. I've never been to Africa, and as long as a significant number of people in this country prefer those of my race to be nothing more than second class citizens I don't really fit as an American in their minds... ignoring the fact that I'm a veteran.

    Blacks have their own dances, or forms of ballroom dances that follow a different aesthetic, uses different values to judge skill and merit. It is often incompatible with the very Western European standards used by ballroom associations.

    Blacks often have there own venues they attend and dance and socialize at. You might be surprised to find a healthy and growing dance scene amongst the black community in your own city.
  4. Porfirio Landeros

    Porfirio Landeros New Member

    You know, now that you mention, I believe all my Black friends have said the same things spoken here... they haven't been to Africa... we're Americans!

    Also, as I touched on earlier, and D'Nice affirmed when it relates to his own cultural experiences, Mexicans have their own Waltz, their own 'Rumba' and other dances... why should the mentioned cultural groups take lessons to unteach what their family and peers taught them?

    I just did it for the chicks....
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Warning: Totally off topic!

    I have been to Africa several times and never felt more American than I did in Africa. Black people should try going, and see if you agree. And since I've been actively involved in the diversity scene for the past fifteen years, I've gotten pretty blase about the whole label thing. Give it a year or two, and the label will change, but I'll still be Black. 8)

    That said, the Black dance scene in my town IS thriving and has nothing to do with ballroom, for the most part. Luckily for me now, I can now fit in and feel comfortable in both.
  6. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I don't know whether it is a matter of unlearning a dance. There are many variations, some of which may be suited to dancing in particular situations. I personally find it interesting to learn different variations of a dance and the resulting different musical worlds that I find myself in when I use them.

    :roll: Tsk, tsk, tsk!!!
  7. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    What sort of dances are done then?
  8. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Formal Ballroom is pretty standardized... I've had ballroom dancers try and tell me I wasn't doing triple steps right in East Coast Swing, and have had Ballroom taught "lindy hoppers" try and tell me my posture, frame, carriage and styling was wrong.

    I'm pretty sure the instructors they went to would try and "clean up" there basics, rather than expanding upon or refining what they have.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    You name it, Sagitta. Depends on the age and the venue. People from my parents generation do a lot of jitterbug. People from my siblings generation do a lot of swing-derived dances. People from my generation doa lot of freestyle, discoesque dances. Generation X-ers do a lot of bouncing like you see on hip hop videos. Whatever's after generation X does a lot of that reggaeton dancing, like you see on videos (at least in Jamaican clubs!) And then there's always personalized freestyle, which is what I do best. And from time to time, there'll be an actual named dances that most everybody does.

    It depends.
  10. apostle

    apostle Member

    I am the first black founder of a collegiate ballroom dance club and competition team. It is called the TLU Ballroom Dance Society, based at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin (near San Antonio/Austin). The club recieved its charter as of February 21, 2006. TLU is a small school of 1,400 students that is 70% white, and has about 100 black students. With me competing and teaching as well, this breaks race/ethnic barriers, and along with the success of Jerry Rice, the first runner up on season 2 of TV's "Dancing with the Stars," may help boost interest in ballroom dancing among blacks.

    I would also like to help start ballroom dance programs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) such as Prairie View A&M, near Houston.

    I have been doing many partner dance styles (ballroom, country, swing, salsa) for more than two years. My parents were either involved in ballet, tap, or modern dancing when they were young.

    TLU Ballroom's first-ever classes start in September.

    Mr. Sammie Thompson
    President, TLU Ballroom Dance Society
  11. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    I can definitely back this up (even though I'm not Black), as I've lived in Africa.

    Oh, and wasn't Stanley McCalla a US amateur champion at some point?
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    I am so pleased that this question was raised . it brings several contexual things to lite. One -- all music is of a primal ( black ) origin .Pretty much all the " Latin " we dance - no matter what the style, is born of that origin . We dont need to go into a musical dissertation to understand that . As far as individuals who have been prominent in the comp. world NOT of the " White " culture. ( these terms, all need to go ) firstly -- Ronnie Montez ( mexican parents ) 7 times u.s. latin champ ,, Bobbie Medeiros , Portugese family , also u.s. latin champ. There is a rainbow of all colors to see and enjoy. the latinos will always bring more to authenticity ,than most ,to the authentic rythms ; which is why I immersed myself into the latino culture many yrs ago, and what pleasure it has brought cannot be measured . I guess I have always admired people for what and how they dance, rather than look at their origin .
  13. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    I think the statement that all music is of black origin is an overstatement. I'd say that waltz and VW are not, tango is more Latin-American in origins, foxtrot music - now that one I am not sure about. Just my thoughts.
  14. saludas

    saludas New Member

    Agreed. European music evolved quite distinctly from African polyrhythms.
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    We are all awre of the progression and diversion of melody and rythm. The point was - That EVERY thing started with the basic beating of a drum . capiche ?
  16. musicchica86

    musicchica86 Active Member

    Not going back to read this whole thread, but has anybody mentioned Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine?
  17. liangjz

    liangjz New Member

    Here's my take(which I think is an echo of what others have said). There's a huge difference between being politcally correct and being correct. I think the latter is more important, even if it costs you.

    That said, I'm going to take it one step further and claim that African-American is often a racist term.

    Lack of racism would mean that the law and the way people are viewed is based on things like their country of citizenship and (as one other poster mentioned) what country they fought for.

    I know people who hold dual citizenships with the US and an African country. They are African-American.

    The idea that we should make a political and social distinction by applying the term "African" to a person whose language, culture, and rightful legal status is American(US) based purely on the color of someone's skin is, in my book, racism.

    That said, I think that many black people in the US view themselves in a different culture than people of other ethnicities. I don't think DF is the right place for my social theories, but the bottom line is that fewer black people want to do ballroom dancing.
  18. apostle

    apostle Member

    Pierre-Antoine is a World Mambo Champ and a US Professional Rhythm Champ. He has peformed with Joanna Zacharewicz and the two had appearances on "Dancing with the Stars" and "America's Ballroom Challenge."
  19. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    saw them at ohio and they were AWESOME
  20. apostle

    apostle Member

    I think it has to do with segregation and other cultural factors. First of all Europeans invented partner dancing in general and broght to the US and when ballroom dancing boomed in the US by the 1950s blacks were not welcome in dance studios due to to "Jim Crow" laws. Many blacks felt like they are not welcome in the ballroom community. They seem to feel intimidated when they try ballroom, But I am an exception.

    I go to this one ballroom dance studio in Houston, where a lot of times I am the only black person, they seemed to be friendly and down-to-earth, and not as snobby as you think. Maybe it is the city's reputation.

    Lindy Hop, the earliest form of swing dance, was pioneered by Frankie Manning and he popularized the dance among dance among blacks. Today, in the regional swing dance societies, like the one in Houston, it seems to attract mainly white and Asian dancers and little or no blacks on the floor.

    Salsa seems to catch on among blacks here.

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