Ballroom's Place in Society

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by pygmalion, Dec 12, 2003.

  1. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    So the question is, why did the styling of the mentioned dances developed in different directions, why competitors that try to approach the styling of the wild living varieties are regularly punished by the judges? On the contrary DWTS brought some convergency because trainers increasingly borrow from the free living vocabulary. I would not have any objections if there was a flowing continuum between fox, charleston and 2step; BR and argentine tango; cha cha and cha cha chá; rumba and bolero-son; ECS and lindy hop.
     
  2. mjnemeth

    mjnemeth Member

    GGinrhinestones said:

    "....Ballroom (leaving out latin for the moment) IS a product of upper and middle class European society......

    Which is true, I believe but was it danced by low to middle class people ever
    in America?
    While I currently don't have access to any WWII vets I will in a month or so . Perhaps someone else can verify with WWII Vets or others of that age group what was danced back then and by who.
     
  3. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I thought that tango originated from the poorer areas of Buenos Aires and then spread to the immigrants that were in Argentina at the time, who then took the dance to France, where it became very popular.
     
  4. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    It is interesting to see that salsa dancing is extremely popular across all ages, genders and ethnicities. I think that is partly due to it being seen as a dance "of the people", rather than a dance from European rich societies. As I discuss the origins of each dance style in ballroom ( which I am using to mean standard, smooth, rhythm and latin), my hope is that the origins of each of the dances will show that ballroom actually has roots in many different cultures and countries and perhaps will have broader appeal to all.
     
  5. davedove

    davedove Active Member


    I don't know about any of the others, but Waltz certainly was. It might have been a "country" waltz, but it was danced by the common folk.
     
  6. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Foxtrot originated in NYC, by Vaudeville star Harry Fox. It wasn't named after an "animal" it was named after a man, who was purported to be able to sweep any woman out of the audience and lead her. And it is a derivative of the One Step, which also a derivative for the modern day Quickstep.

    And don't bother looking at wiki... it is woefully lacking in facts (unfortunately since it WILL become our historical documentation eventually) because it says things so dunderheaded as this
    How can it be English in origin, if the dances it was taken from, Charleston, the Chug, Peabody, the Shag, and Foxtrot... are American dances?? Perhaps the English codified it, and made it something entirely their own for the past 70 years... but its origins are clearly American.
     
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Peabody, has a much closer relationship with Q/Step."step"wise .
     
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    You "rang" Me Lord ?...

    We were dancing more or less, the same dances as today . Old Time, in the UK ( sequence style ) was HUGE .Thats where,when,and how, I learned to hone my leading skills .

    PD and Tango were treated like step children, and Rumba was Square.
    The time signatures ,were commonly 2/4 for Tango and Q/Step.

    Lindy had not reached the masses until the early/mid 4os, and, many public ballrooms, initially forbade it . "We " (B.R. types), liked it for its change of pace ( tho many of our coaches were against it ) .

    There were also several " line " dances, done regularly in public ballrooms, the most common being the Palais Glide, named after where it was " born " .
     
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  9. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    You are absolutely right. Charleston, Peabody, Foxtrot, Quickstep altogether simply are variants of Ragtime and of course Ragtime is true of american origin. But the BR brain forgot about that free living varieties and ancestors and only summons his own history which is codified with an english accent.
     
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Wikipedia articles are only as good as the people who are willing to invest time in them.

    Regarding Fox Trot -

    Two sources credit African American dancers as the source of the Fox Trot: Vernon Castle himself, and then dance teacher Betty Lee. Castle saw the dance, which "had been danced by negroes, to his personal knowledge, for fifteen years, (at) a certain exclusive colored club". Hawkins, Christina M. (2002). A Compilation and Analysis of the Origins of the Foxtrot in White Mainstream America (Master of Arts thesis). Brigham Young University Department of Dance. p. 18.
     
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  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    During WWII there was a huge influx of people to fill jobs created in the "defense industry." Time magazine started an article that led with a woring class guy walking into an Arthur Murray studio and plucking down a bunch of cash an ddeclaring that he wanted to learn how to dance so he could meet classy women. (I've got the exact text somewhere!)

    Joe Lanza (Black Sheep / Uncle Joe) wrote that returning servicemen could use the GI bill to take dance lessons, and that fueled a post war dance lesson boom. (Joe served in the Army Air Corps during the war.)

    WWII vets? Ask them about Peabody, Slicker, and what they called any swing dance they learned.
     
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  12. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    Okay, I am going to do this in several posts, because otherwise it will be long and crazy to read. And I'm going to apologize up front, because 19th century history is kind of my obsession (other than dancing, of course). 19th Century etiquette, and ballrooms, being what got me interested in dance in the first place. And for the record, as I have quoted to numerous students of my own over the years, Wikipedia is NEVER a reliable reference.




    I suppose it depends on how you define “common folk”. The exact origins of the waltz are unclear, but most sources credit the Volta – a Renaissance court dance – and/or the Landler, an Austrian folk dance. (Mark Knowles, The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances, 2009). It was accepted by all levels of society – high and low – but it was in the nineteenth century ballrooms (and 19th century etiquette manuals, directed at the American middle class and rising upper class) that it was refined and codified and formally taught in dance lessons – ideally by dance masters. Dance Masters, btw, were very different from dance teachers (who emerged after the waltz, which was considered “easy enough” to learn without help from a dance master. Dance teachers taught steps to the simple waltz and polka. Dance masters taught dance steps AND grace, manners, and deployment of the body. (Ralph G. Giordano, Social Dancing in America Vol 1, 2007). The waltz developed into what we know now at the same time that, particularly in America, the middle class was attempting to distance itself from the lower classes by formal etiquette and rules of society, which included dance and deportment in a ballroom – formal dance lessons being something that the lower classes could not afford. (Elizabeth Aldrich, From the Ballroom to Hell, 1991).
     
  13. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member



    Yes, the roots of the tango were Buenos Aires. And when it left Buenos Aires and hit France, it caused a scandal and required significant “toning down” to be acceptable to European audiences. Which resulted in an rather fascinating quote from Vernon Castle in 1914: “After Paris had taken the dance up a few years ago, its too sensuous character was gradually toned down, and from a rather obscene exhibition, which is still indulged in by certain cabaret performers, it bloomed forth a polished and extremely fascinating dance.” (Vernon Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914). Of course, Castle also claims that the Tango came to Buenos Aires by way of Spanish gypsies.
     
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  14. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member



    You are correct, foxtrot did NOT develop from the animal dances – though it developed at the same time the animal dances were all the rage. Definitely my error, something I should have caught but it was late and I was tired. :oops:
    However, the jury is out on whether or not Foxtrot really was a product of Henry Fox, or if he just claimed credit for it, as Steve indicated. (Side note: the Castles actually are pretty well known for crossing the color line of the period and bringing social dancing from the black nightclubs into popular form in white ballrooms). Eve Golden suggests in her biography of the Castles: “Probably the most popular of the new dances…was the fox trot. Vernon Castle was briefly given credit for inventing this step, which he rightly laughed off. Vaudeville dancer Harry Fox also claimed credit…but it can be traced back to at least 1905, before Fox’s fame.” (Eve Golden, Vernon and Irene Castle’s Ragtime Revolution, 2007). The foxtrot evolved out of a combination of the one-step and two-step that were popular as early as 1899. Ralph Giordano states that the most common theory for the foxtrot as we know it goes to Henry Fox, but he also says that “the continuous trotting was not necessarily a step that the dancing public could maintain on the social floor” and the dance was then refined by dancing master Oscar Duryea for the purpose of teaching it to social dancers. (Ralph G. Giordano, Social Dancing in America Vol 2, 2007).
     
  15. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member



    Which, though I realize I haven’t done it well, it pretty much my point. These days, NONE of the dances (especially in American style) really have much of their original roots left, they have been so completely adapted, modified, changed and…well, evolved over time. People outside the ballroom world may think they are from a certain place, but really…they’re all American because every generation has added their own spin, every culture has added their own spin, and they adapt and change – in my opinion, at least, exactly as they should.

    That said, I'm not entirely sure that all of the dances DO have broad appeal to all cultures and countries. Which gets back to the whole point that what I see, at least, is a much broader cross-cultural acceptance of latin and rhythm based dances like salsa and swing, and much less interest in "traditional" ballroom dances like waltz and foxtrot.
     
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  16. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    And please let me add: and it reflects how some pioneers of (business) dancing ignored the free living animals only in order not to jeopardise their secret mines. The club dancers of that time simply improvised, there never has been any distinction between one- and two- or triple-step ragtime styles (in so far I follow Christina Hawkins). Also Fox did not invent any fox-step, he simply danced what he saw in a separated dance world (but he made it popular).

    Just the other way round: Tango scandalized Buenos Aires (Argentina anyway) but literally was sucked in over here.

    A classic case of historical misrepresentation! The british BR pioneers simply were unable to dance tango properly. They mixed the british BR frame with steps learned by watching.

    Watch Barbara Miles and Max Stewart
    http://www.britishpathe.com/video/will-the-tango-come-back
     
  17. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Im completely sure, that was not the reason for a different interpretation.

    The " french " style, was probably much too close to being ( in their eyes ) not acceptable to the British public .

    Henry Jacques, was one of the prime( and Scrivener) "movers " of the day, who had a very deep understanding, of the dynamics and the structure of pretty much all of the , current B/room dances in vogue during that time period .And he is the one who "shaped " the dance to the current style .

    So, having known and seen his, and Scriveners prowess, it would be an injustice, to imply that they ( and others ) were incapable of adapting any new "style", to the existing syllabi .

    The latin dances, originally , went thru a similar process.. acceptabilty .
     
  18. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    That would make the thing even worse. So why should have been unreasonable for London´s society what moved Paris, New York, Berlin, St. Petersburg and Jalta?

    But, please correct me if I´m wrong, I find that Jacques and Scrivener belong to a later generation of dancers. As far as I read Georg Grossmith (brother in law of Vernon Castle) introduced tango to the UK.
     
  19. chrislo

    chrislo New Member

    I have never seen any reference to the Cha Cha originating in NY or can I find one? Could you enlighten me please.
     
  20. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

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