General Dance Discussion > Engineers and dancing

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by kansas49er, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. Griffico

    Griffico Member

    If there's no right or wrong, then patterns aren't wrong either. The beauty of dancing is that it is more or less what you make of it, so please don't say that it's boundless in one way and then apply boundaries in another way.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Well... If you think that it's ok to dance with no relationship to what is going on in the music, I can accept this. For me, though, it is wrong.

    Anyhow there's that "(and swing?)" in the thread title, so lemme just say when you get to swing... good luck at figuring out what "swing" is, as something quantifiable.
  3. scotttocs

    scotttocs Member


    1) If you and/or your partner are completely off balance, it is wrong.
    2) If your dancing bears no relation to the timing and energy of the music it is wrong.

    For example a waltz is a 3 count dance with rise and fall. If you aren't doing that, you are doing it wrong.

    I do agree that the steps/patterns are not dancing all by themselves. They are part of the whole.
  4. BenjaminT

    BenjaminT Member

    I just started going back to school to get a degree in mechanical engineering.

    One commenter mentioned how the engineers end up as some of the best students. I have a thought on that. I think it has to do with the higher-than-average spatial-temporal reasoning (or just "spatial reasoning").

    The ability conceptualize movement of a machine as complicated as one's own body (and as skill progresses; their partner's as well) is no small thing. Whereas a lot of the higher level students at the studio took years to get where they are, I don't think any of them are learning faster than me.

    Last week before the social was a group quickstep lesson. Nothing fancy, just running 1/4 turns and progressive chasses to get moving and a natural turn to keep from crashing off the end. I've never touched quickstep before. The old hands couldn't figure out how I was making it look good while they were still struggling with getting the right number of steps.

    They're still better than me at what they do. So they're still safe... for now.
  5. randomaeiou

    randomaeiou Member

    Perhaps it is not so much that engineers and scientists are attracted to ballroom dancing in disproportionate numbers, but that a disproportionate number of engineers and scientists have the personality, discipline, understanding of physics/other basic ideas and interest to take their ballroom to a technical level that is competitive. (Caveat: I speak of adult-start dancers - those that learnt from young grew up with it, and are a separate kettle of fish.)

    I believe (from personal observation of many beginners/"social" classes) that engineers and scientists (and another related group - doctors/other medics) are not over-represented initially, or at least not over-represented when socio-economic situations are factored in (ballroom can be expensive compared to other hobbies, even in a "social" context).

    However, many "artsy" types start acquiring glazed-over eyes or bored looks when a coach even starts to introduce "technique", and they frequently start looking elsewhere for amusement at the merest *hint* of this pursuit requiring technical analysis and understanding. Whilst this is certainly a broad generalization and there are many exceptions, it certainly occurs far more frequently than not, and almost certainly contributes a large part to the disproportion observed.

    Unfortunately, this penchant for pursuing technique can also lead to an unbalanced focus on technical perfection over an emotional performance - many rather high level dancers often move mechanically rather than listen to and convey the music and the emotional aspects of dancing. ("Mechanically" is relative, and "musicality" is the endpoint in question.)
  6. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    My partner and I had a conversation before one of our first competitions:

    she: "You'll lead [floorcraft] better than him -- you're an engineer."
    me: "Well, maybe or maybe not, but not for that reason. He's also an engineer."
    she: "What?"
    me (pointing): "And he's an engineer, and he's an engineer and..."
    she: ?!?
    me "Almost all the guys competing against us are engineers."
    she: "I didn't realize..."

    While DF tells me that there are plenty of engineer ladies, I *think* there are fewer engineers among them than among the gents. I confess that what makes me curious is whether ladies with diverse but non-technical backgrounds ever discover that they have the same "horror stories" about their engineer partners ("He can't go 5 minutes without measuring an angle!" "Yours, too? Small world!", etc.).
  7. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    How many nationally or internationally ranked amateurs are engineers, do you think?

    Can I play devil's advocate to this festival of self-congratulation? :rolleyes:

    Engineers are more likely to be geeks, in the sense of getting a bit obsessive about their hobbies.

    Engineers are more likely to be socially challenged, and seek out ballroom dancing to help them overcome their romantic difficulties.

    I have noted engineers have a pretty high drop-out rate from ballroom dance. They very often don't account for the fact that a physical skill requires the sort of repetitive practice that they did not need learning calculus.

    Engineers are generally paid well enough to pay for classes and lessons.

    And don't even bother with the representation of engineers in ballroom dance in the SF Bay Area. The population as a whole has a very high proportion of engineers. Where I live now, engineers do not form such a large proportion of the dance population.

    Just saying, correlation is not the same as causation...
  8. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Just to add, I am an engineering type and the characteristics I described above generally apply to me.

    I learned fast too, according to me teachers, but I don't think that was because of STEM abilities. I had already done a lot of freestyle dancing, and unlike many engineers, was pretty athletic and had good coordination when I was young.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yup. I started to say something like this earlier today, before a nap started calling my name.

    Same thing for the disproportionate representation of engineers in DF. Uhh. By the time you figure in the ability to pay for lessons, the need to be computer literate, the need to be a good enough writer to survive in an articulate forum-based discussion, such as this, etc. Of course there are more engineers here than there would be, say, buying shrimp at Safeway on a Saturday afternoon. :lol:

    For me, dancing is both the opposite of and a conjugate of engineer-ness. I love the orderliness of dance and think it's related to spatial reasoning, much the same way as math is related to music. OTOH, dance is one place that I can be completely free from the need to impose logic. It's passion, pure and simple.

    I don't think there's any one answer.
  10. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    This might be onto something...I am NOT an engineer (I have no head for higher maths and tend to like to skip steps to get to the end. Yes, I'm the child who did NOT read the instructions about assembling the Lego kit.) I DO score extremely high in spatial-reasoning tests. Top percentile, 'this is where engineers tend to score' sort of results. Possibly this is one of the key traits where dancer and engineer tend to overlap?
  11. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    And it does bring to mind the time I taught a four week salsa class at my workplace after work. All engineers. OMFUG!!! I literally got down on my knees to hold one guy's foot to the floor when he couldn't help himself from trying to step with the same foot twice in a row. Out of about 40 engineers, I think two of them got the basic on the first go (both women) and by the end of the series maybe about half were able to do the first three basic figures they were taught.

    I should mention I have taught a more representative crowd, and it went much better then.

    So I should say we engineers on DF are a group self-selected for higher physical coordination than the average engineer. ;-)
  12. randomaeiou

    randomaeiou Member

    As caveat-ed (did i just make up a new word?) - adult-start. How many internationally competitive couples (in Adult and not Masters/Seniors grades) started 18+?

    Also, I believe that yes, there are plenty of uncoordinated engineers, scientists and medics out there (i'm a medic, btw). However, there are also a disproportionate amount of dancing engineers, scientists and medics. Pulling random numbers out of the air to illustrate my point:

    for example, if there are 100 beginners and 10 are engineers, scientists or medics. Only 10 remain past the beginner lessons and become competitive dancers. If 5 of these are engineers, scientists or medics, then we have disproportionate representation. The other 5 were either uninterested or too uncoordinated, or could have had many other reasons for ceasing, but that does not affect the final calculation that engineers, scientists and medics are overrepresented!

    (And my point was that technical dancing requires a certain mindset and mental faculty that is more commonly associated with certain professions, either because certain people choose to go into these professions, or these professions have entry selection criteria that choose these people - chicken or egg?)

    And engineers on DF are within the subset of dancers that have sufficient enthusiasm and interest to come here - i.e. enthusiasts. A reasonable approximation of the entire subset of dancing enthusiasts that can be bothered to delve into the subtler technical aspects of movement. (i.e. more engineers here likely reflects more engineers in general)

    Edit: And I know of at least one ex-World Champion (in Standard) that studied Maths at uni.
  13. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I think this is the important bit. How many Seniors that are nationally or internationally competitive are engineers, as a proportion? My point is that we have a confirmation bias here. Most of the people I meet competing at ballroom are representative of the class of people that can afford to pay for private lessons regularly, with engineers filling roughly a proportionate segment. I'd love to hear a New Yorker, or an Angeleno, chime in about how many engineers go on to compete in their areas.
  14. BenjaminT

    BenjaminT Member

    I hesitate to say it, but could it be something of a class issue as well (at least in terms of culture)? There simply aren't that many guys in the blue collar world I know even interested enough to try it. Mechanics, body men, truckers, etc. While disposable income is important, it's nothing if you would rather hang out at a bar and watch sports.

    Pleasantly enough, though, no one has given me any grief. Part of that may be my complete lack of participation in the BS games. Insults are useless against someone who isn't phased by them; dangerous against someone who cuts straight to the bone when so moved. If anything, I do get a lot of people saying, "you don't belong here." Mostly this is in response to when I geek-out about STEM and cultural things.
  15. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    There are fewer ladies among engineers, so is it surprising that there are fewer engineer ladies among ballroom ladies?
  16. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Partly for the reason you give here, I would not be surprised to learn that a higher percentage of ballroom gents than of ballroom ladies are engineers.

    I do not have actual data either way.
  17. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    That's fair. I'm from Huntsville, AL, which similarly has a disproportionately high population of individuals working in STEM fields. And while it seems that Nashville isn't all that much better, it may very well be confirmation bias on my part.
  18. Dots

    Dots Active Member

    I am a computer engineer on my end. I initially joined thinking I would find someone, but stayed when I realized that it was a physical, mental and social challenge that I enjoyed and which would help me grow as an individual.

    That and I have to admit that dancing is probably one of the only few activities that I know of where being a geek at it will earn you smiles from the ladies ;)
  19. Griffico

    Griffico Member

    For what it's worth, I've worked with a couple college groups across the country where ballroom is subsidized significantly, so money isn't as large a part of the equation. I'd say even with money not as much of an issue there's a large portion of the students who get into it and stick with it that are engineers.
  20. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I would call that a cultural issue more than a class issue. My dad and his friends were about as blue collar as it gets, and they all danced. They found it a great way to meet girls.

    We've already had long threads about the cultural norms that keep American men out of the ballroom...

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