Ballroom Dance > Videos > Supershag Polka Party and performances 2-13-09

Discussion in 'Videos' started by chrisjohnston, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. chrisjohnston

    chrisjohnston Well-Known Member

  2. Zhena

    Zhena Well-Known Member

    Just an FYI ... I see most (well over half) of the polka in the videos as a parody, not a straightforward expression of the dance. To me, it's like taking the most over-the-top excesses of competition ballroom and showing it off as a representation of true ballroom dancing.

    Sure, the people were having fun, but you could do the same thing with any other dance (paso doble, anyone?). It's not that polka isn't easy to make fun of (I've been guilty too), but I don't see a heck of a lot of balance in the selection of videos (or possibly in the organization of the event). It looks like it was used as an opportunity to let loose and forget about controlled movement. Polka is a real dance, with real steps danced in time to the music. Yes, polka can be fast and energetic, but it is not a free-for-all.

    Or maybe I'm just crabby tonight and overly sensitive ...
  3. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Yeah, pretty much so.

    It's not meant to be serious, more a...Valentine's event that's not so much about soppy romance. Also, several (most?) of the couples partnered up at the party, in one case *ahem* about five minutes before the contest. (Though I will say, one couple, whom I felt wuzrobbed, had actually been working on it in lessons!)

    In other words, not a Polish dance festival, a silly contest, lighten up.
  4. chrisjohnston

    chrisjohnston Well-Known Member

    Zhena your post is 100% correct.This is meant to be a very light-hearted event that has been going for 7 years.I know nothing about Polka and am sorry that you were offended.

  5. Zhena

    Zhena Well-Known Member

    I'm not offended, just ... I don't know ... maybe annoyed.

    Danceronice calls it "a silly contest" that is meant as "a Valentine's event that's not so much about soppy romance." OK, it sounds like fun. Since the point seems to be competing in a dance you have absolutely no experience in, you could get the same giggles if you take a bunch of dancers who have never had a lesson in (again) paso doble or maybe quickstep or samba and throw them on the floor after a brief introduction to the dance. And they should be wearing competition outfits from the 50's (or "reasonable" approximations thereof). I think it would be extremely funny, in the same vein as this contest. I'm not being sarcastic here ... I really do think it would be as much fun.

    Of course if your target audience (or rather pool of contestants) has experience in ALL the ballroom dances, I guess you have to go outside your genre to get the proper effect of enthusiastic but clueless participants.

    So then, after the contest ... it might be fun to bring in a teacher who DOES know something about polka and learn the basic at least well enough to do it once around the floor. It's a great sensation, and the skill level involved is probably less than for quickstep (considering that I don't do quickstep, but I can get around the floor pretty well in polka).

    Then next year, pick another dance that is new to you for the competition, and follow it up with some real lessons in that genre. It would be a great way to expand your horizons.

    Of course this is just another point of view ... I won't call the ethnic police if it happens again ...

    Happy Dancing!
  6. chrisjohnston

    chrisjohnston Well-Known Member

    Thanks Zhena,if you are ever in Boston maybe you can come up to the studio and give a work-shop.

    Cheers Chris
  7. Zhena

    Zhena Well-Known Member

    I have a cold and couldn't get to sleep last night because of the coughing. I'm taking a sick day, so I have time to write out a summarized version of the conversation played itself out in my head while I was tossing and turning:

    Upset Zhena: I don't think I expressed myself very well in those posts about the polka comp. I need to use a better analogy. Suppose a DF'er meets someone who mentions they're also a dancer. The new person says that every year on Valentine's Day they go to a party and dance the tango ... there's a clip on YouTube from last year. On the clip are a few couples who seem to have learned a basic step or two, but the ones who really stand out are doing that squished-together pose with man's right cheek(s) pressed hard up against the woman's left and the other arms straight out ("promenade), stalking their prey. The men are wearing baggy suits and slicked-back hair, and the women are wearing feather boas around their necks and fringed floral shawls tied around their hips ... one couple even has a rose they pass back and forth. Wouldn't the DF'er have a right to be upset the same way I'm upset about the clips of the polka comp?

    Thoughtful Zhena: Well, now that you put it that way ... that's actually kinda cute. No, the DF'er shouldn't be upset. They're not hurting anything and they're having a wonderful time.

    Upset Zhena: But they don't seem to understand they're doing it wrong. Isn't it important to let them know?

    Thoughtful Zhena: Would you really ask the people at the tango party to change? Of course not! Wouldn't you suggest the DF'er lighten up? You know you'd at least consider it. The tango group has found something that works for them. It's the same for the polka comp. You just have a stronger emotional connection to polka than to tango, and that's interfering with your logic. You need a better reason than your personal feelings before you can ask either group to consider changing their tradition. To do either dance "properly" would require them to invest time and effort. What gives you the right to ask them to do that?

    Upset Zhena: It's true I wouldn't say anything to the tango group. They're just playing around. Learning even a little would take hours and hours, and they probably wouldn't think the payoff is worth it. But the people in the polka comp are dancers! They are not starting at the beginning. They could easily use some of their hard-earned skills to learn a different dance ... it wouldn't take that much effort. Shouldn't they care whether they are doing it well?

    Thoughtful Zhena: Why is it any different for them? They work very hard on the dances they care about, and it's unfair to demand that they put additional effort into something that doesn't really matter to them.

    Upset Zhena: But some of them are DF'ers who talk a lot about how their dancing is perceived by the general public. They should be sensitive to perceptions about other dances too.

    Thoughtful Zhena: Even if the people at the polka comp are the same people who are concerned about ballroom dancing's image (which is not necessarily the case), why should they therefore care about polka's image? And why does image even matter? If the image of polka (or tango) were any different, would it really change anything? As they say, it's just dancing, not world peace.

    So ... I've talked myself out of my concerns. I'm not sure whether the conversation, long as it is, captures the full thought process, but I can honestly say I no longer feel uncomfortable about the polka comp.

    I apologize to Chris, Supershag, danceronice, and all the participants in the polka comp. If I'm ever in Boston on Valentine's Day, I may even stop in and participate in the fun.

    Happy Dancing!
  8. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Zhena, think that post was very thoughtful (no pun intended), and mature. Thanks for givving it time and coming back to it.

    That being said, maybe I should finally watch the video that prompted all this discussion. ;)
  9. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Zhena--so it's clear, that was personal, not corporate, offense I took to your post, as Chris obviously makes clear. I'm one of the people IN the videos, I know everyone else in them, and to cap it all, I'm Polish and certainly not offended by it (even if my grandparents are turning in their graves because I'm wearing a Hungarian skirt AND I'm a klutz.) I appreciate your response, and my 'lighten up' was meant largely tongue in cheek.

    I don't know about the AT folks but I doubt very much anyone would take offense if it were tango. Certainly not paso or samba--I don't know too many ballroom people (a couple, but not many) who don't admit that those dances, taken to the extreme, can look more than a little silly.

    And if you are in Boston on Valentine's Day (weekend, er, Friday before, usually, or whichever's closer next year) please do stop by, especially if you can do something besides the Hamtramack-wedding three-beers-in polka (anyone else from a big Poletown family knows what I'm talking about) because you would probably whip everyone's butt!

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