Ballroom Dance > Competitive Dancing: Has "Presentation" been sacrificed for power and speed?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Dr Dance, May 4, 2017.

  1. Dr Dance

    Dr Dance Well-Known Member

    This assertion has been tabled by a dancer no less than Peter Eggleton.

    "It appears to me that the time is nigh to think back a little on the reasons for ‘ballroom dancing’ When it was allowed to stand close to a lady in a public place – strange as it may seem – at one point, people doing that were put in prison for indecent behaviour in a public place! The grand house balls employed orchestras for dancing and the rotary waltz was ‘de rigeur’ – very erect, very close on a straight line.
    Never forget that ballroom dancing was for many people on the floor, not the few, and anti-clockwise and parallel to the walls was the important and mandatory direction! It possibly seems strange to us now, but, for example, the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool employed marshalls who would ensure just that! A little tap on the shoulder was all that was required!
    However, I digress. To ensure the possibility of another dance, the man, if he was relishing the aquaintance, would not crush the lady in a bearlike hug, but try to present her and allow her to be graceful and, admired by her friends.
    That perception, if I may say so, is sadly lacking in what is perpretated as competitive ballroom dancing today. The qualities, that formerly, enabled the musically beautiful and exciting presentations, have, sadly, been sacrificed on the altar of speed and power! Ballroom dancing is not a speed trial, but, in the full flexibility of execution necessary for musical interpretation at a high level, it does cover a remarkable amount of ground!
    I am well aware that the term Dancesport, enables money to be paid from the government, but that is no excuse for allowing the total destruction of the tenets of ballroom dancing, so faithfully developed over the years, to be wilfully ignored.
    There is no instant dance, but the study could, and should be fruitful and edifying. Let’s take out the savagery, listen to all the nuances in the music, make our movement satisfying to both parties, and the watcher, for everyone’s sake!"
    Peter Eggleton
    vit and tangotime like this.
  2. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    A similar plea, was made about the direction of " Latin ", and has been ignored.

    I totally agree with his sentiment .
    For those of you who are not familiar with Peter, he is a former 3 time British and World champion. He had some classic dance " battles " with the Irvine's.
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
    IndyLady, Dr Dance and raindance like this.
  3. carlosyabrudy

    carlosyabrudy Member

    This is the outcome of inevitable evolution of a sport. Sports will change. When one has expired options that are commonly known, tactics are needed to stand out or overcome everyone else...

    Sport is there also to entertain the masses and a lot of people forget this aspect. It's not an enclosed private dance examination, but presentation in its' fullest.....

    We know more about the human body and athletisism nowadays and this is breeding a new generation of sports people who are far more capable than those of 1920s and 1930s
  4. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I believe you miss Peter Eggleston's fundamental point. The issue is whether dancing is a sport or art. I doubt that dancers in the 20s & 30s considered themselves to be sportsmen.

    Read Eggleston's article again. For more thoughts on the topic, see this blog post.
    Purr, danceronice, IndyLady and 2 others like this.
  5. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    Agreed. My answer to the question is "yes".

    This reminds me of one of the posts in the "funniest things someone has said about your dancing" thread (I think), where a new student was watching a pro couple practice and said "Why are they dancing like that?"

    When I watch high level pro competitions (Blackpool and such), I don't like the way the dancing looks. It's not what I aspire too. That's an odd thing about how ballroom dance has evolved - it's hard to imagine the same sentiment about Olympic gymnastics or figure skating, which inspires people to want to follow in their footsteps. Whereas our highest level performances look downright bizarre to the pedestrian eye.

    ETA: Now that I think about it, gymnastics and figure skating are suffering from the same issue, but they've retained just enough of the "presentation" aspect here and there so that the disconnect isn't as impactful.
  6. kckc

    kckc Active Member

    I was just getting ready to disagree slightly with IL about gymnastics and figure skating when I see that she fixed it :)

    I'm not interested in watching those anymore precisely because of the lunge towards all show and no artistry. Ice dancing is still enjoyable because it seems to be precisely that- dancing- with light and shade and power and flow and artistry, all mixed together.
  7. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    me too
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I used this term on salsa forums recently, and one poster said he did not understand what that meant..
  9. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    FWIW, I'm not as fond of the now ironically named "artistic gymnastics" (vault, balance beam, etc that we all think of) precisely because it's so skills based, and all the "dancing" in between skills seems like they're phoning it in to kill time. It's definitely lost the elegance and fluidity it used to have. I prefer rhythmic gymnastics (the kind with the equipment - ball, clubs, ribbons, etc) where you can still see some of that. But of course they hardly ever air any of that because there are no American contenders.
    raindance likes this.
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Which reminds me of a similar situation, by a person who was not familiar with BR comp. level, posed this question; " Do the partners not like each other ? " response " Why do you ask that question ?.. answer, " Because they never look at each other " ..
    IndyLady likes this.
  11. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot wdsf.....
  12. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    A number of times I have observed complete newcomers watching a dance competition. They often notice the the couple that has the most expression, not necessarily the one that completes the most difficult physical feats. I find that to be true in social settings also. Even in today's music, it is so electronic. The voices have been altered to have a more perfect pitch. Yet, the one thing that we don't see enough of is imperfection. It is imperfection that adds to the beauty. Obviously, it is less tangible, but I think a reason why old music (and dancing) is so good.
    IndyLady likes this.
  13. DerekWeb

    DerekWeb Well-Known Member

    The dancers do not harmonize with the music and it is gymnastics.
    IndyLady likes this.
  14. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    +1 for Olympic poker

    DL, once (and future?) judoka and standard competitor
  15. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Autotune, Beat Detector, Sound Replacer, brickwall compression... don't even get me started on what's happened to today's popular music. Let's just say that what you hear is mostly the effort of the producer and sound engineer, and doesn't have a lot to do with the artist whose name is on it. I tell people that the only honest form of popular music today is electronica, because they long ago abandoned all of the pretenses and just said "this is what it is".
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  16. vit

    vit Active Member

    While I generally agree with him ... when dance competitions are in question, it's hard to say that it was indeed much better in the past. People are dancing mostly pre-prepared and perfected choreographies to any music they get on the comps and they do it with not much changes for years, so there is indeed very little room for musical interpretation/light/shade/whatever. The fact that there is more point on speed than it was before doesn't actually have much to do with this. It's pretty much the same with most salsa competitions, although in salsa (social dancing) people generally pay much more attention to musicality than in ballroom (or so they think)

    I would like to see those dancers dancing some kind of J&J with random partner like it's usual in WCS ... but then again, in case of WCS, there is big point on musical interpretation, but it's hard to find much WCS in that dancing ...

    ... so it's hard to find a dance competition form that would satisfy all ... otherwise someone would already have invented it I suppose ...
    Larinda McRaven and Mr 4 styles like this.
  17. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    It's hard to focus on interpretation when you may end up with music you're at best indifferent to and at worst are like "Oh, my God, what is this ****?" when it comes on. I am constantly sitting there thinking "Please let me get a song I like." If it's not, then I just have to dance to the beat and try to ignore the rest of it. One reason skating may still manage to look more 'artistic' is remember, you CHOOSE your music and dance the same routine to the same edit the whole season (unless there's something wrong and you have to retool it, but that's only when you have a problem to fix.) You kind of have to fake it and do it from memory when there's a better than average chance you're not actually going to like what you're dancing to.
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  18. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    OMG, I was saying this exact same thing to someone the other night as we were talking about competitions (fellow ballroom students but I think they have a background/side interest in lindy hop). I remember how disillusioned I was when I discovered that choreo was the norm for ballroom competitions - when I did my first one I expected that we would just dance like we did at the open dance party, which we mostly did, and I remember feeling eye-roll-y about one of my fellow competitors whose choreo looked way more like a Showcase than any type of actual partner dancing. Ha ha, silly me.
  19. IngaSv

    IngaSv Member

    I think there are a lot of people who do sacrifice actual "dancing" for speed, power and flexibility, but usually those dancers are not the winners.
  20. Spookisgirl

    Spookisgirl Active Member

    I think it really depends whether you are watching a WDC or WDSF competition. I have a hard time watching WDSF as I come from a music background, and I don't often find much musicality (there are some exceptions), and sometimes I find myself questioning the connection between the partners (I have seen some examples where it is hard to tell who is dancing with who in latin). It just seems that 'sportmanship' and tricks are more and more trumping 'artistry' and actual partnered dancing. This is more in latin than standard. I find WDC comps better, but even there speed and power seem to be starting to trump presentation.

    I don't mind spins and tricks--but they should enhance, not detract from the dancing. The dance (especially rumba--and I have seen it) should not be random pauses between multiple spins and flashy tricks.

    Just what I have observed, so I guess I would say I agree with the quote.
    IndyLady likes this.

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