SOCIAL DANCING TODAY!
Arthur Franks, one of the former Presidents of what we now call World Dance Council, wrote in his book “Social Dancing” in 1963 that we concentrate our style too much on a level that is perhaps necessary for only 5% of our public.
As a secretary of the then ICBD he already had a clear understanding about these aspects!
In his book he writes, amongst others; “Although we have uniformity in England, things are too complex and there certainly is not enough focus on the taste of our public, while the Americans do not know much uniformity, but consider the stimulus of their public”.
In various countries in Europe there was an unpleasant compromise between both approaches for a certain time in some regions.
On the other hand, there is a greater sense of reality in these countries than in England.
In some countries (for example in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries) a style was developed in the dance schools which almost had nothing in common anymore with the “English” style”
Mr. Franks would be called a visionary nowadays!
In our courses, we have simply become too specialised in our system, in our way of thinking and sometimes in our performance.
We certainly did not always do what Franks wrote.
Our teaching system for “social dancing” became a substitute of a style that is extremely suitable for competition dancers.
It was even worse than that; the system became the backbone of the dance teacher training!
The whole way of thinking about dancing became fundamentally “strictly ballroom”.
An acquaintance from outside the dance world once asked me what I did for living and I replied that I was a dance teacher.
He answered that dancing should not be taught; you just should follow your rhythmic feeling!
Of course I thoroughly disagree with him, but I understand why he said this.
He regarded dancing as a spontaneous expression of rhythmic impulses; not more than that!
Good dance teachers as we are, we had a strict technique and used technical books, but we often killed our creative imagination in the syllabus figures and variations in leading and following.
In our training we learned that we had to start neatly with our face to the wall or diagonal and we turned exactly 45 degrees between step 2 and 3.
We often teach people steps, even in beginners clubs, which no person is able to dancer at a normal “social event”
Much has changed in social life since the 1960’s. at the time young people did not accept anymore what their parents wanted; they had heard and seen Woodstock, it were the years of “sex, drugs and Rock & Roll”.
It took a long time before people realised on an international level that the dance school system was not up to date anymore.
There were still so many dance schools and dance teachers being individualists who hardly realised that drastic measures had to be taken.
It is still the case that there are many persons all over the world who still do not realise that “social dancing” is something different than competition dancing and they should be completely separated
The European Dance Council wants to be unambiguous and provide a clear answer…..but we should certainly take action together
We must be leading and not following in society!
After all, we received enough signals in the past that we should get rid of competition dancing, which was also practised at most dance schools.
Rock & Roll was a bold signal at the time, however dance schools in general did not know how to respond.
Another writing on the wall was Saturday Night Fever.
Many dance schools did not anticipate these new dances and lost control.
Dance schools that DID respond to this were very busy.
It was only than that they realised that 5% of their work was meant for ordinary mortals, for social dancers, and not for the 5% of competition dancers.
The European Dance Council wants to focus entirely on these 95% of social dancers.
Dance schools do not need to hold meetings with endless, time-consuming discussions about competition rules and frustrating national and international problems.
We do not need a committee that settles conflicts like a kind of supreme judge for dancing.
What we need is corporate identity, marketing studies and a good PR campaign.
Therefore, European Dance Council wants to bring back dancing to “the public” again, together with a lot of modern, enthusiastic well willing people.
We all have to show that the world is a dance party!
Will you participate? It is still possible now; it is not too late yet!