In the Ballroom, a Redefinition of 'Couple'

#21
From the NDCA website:
under Section II:

3. Definition of a Couple
a. A couple is defined as a male and a female.

I couldn't find any other references pertaining to this there.
 
#23
Hmmm... do you guys know that a couple of hundred years back women were not allowed to perform? I mean, actors (for instance) were all men! This is a reason why some great playrights have very few lines for women (as is the case of Shakespeare)... One had to find a good and slim and feminine actor to interpret the woman's part... and that was hard!
I wonder why all the fuss about men competing in same-sex couples or wearing skirts?!
I think it's all a matter of society rules... the same as two women kissing in a movie is acceptable, but two guys kissing is disgusting... or showing fully naked women is ok, but fully naked men is not!
It's just prejudices... IMHO
 
#24
I feel a little guilty, because I have nothing against people of any compostition (as long as there are only 2) getting married, but when I saw that picture on the Times arts page, I was a little disgusted.

Sorry... :oops:

I guess if we define dancing as an art, you have components that you use to create your art. The primary components of ballroom dance are a man and a woman, or if you want to get liberal, a masculine lead and a feminine follower. I think if you change this, it becomes something else, and not necessarily someting "bad", just something different. So, I have no problem with the expansion of same-sex (lead exchanging) categories... in fact, I'll dance in the old-school Ballroom Dance category and they can dance in the DanceSport category ;-)
 

Laura

New Member
#25
I would love to see the expansion of a same-sex category, but unfortunately NDCA and USABDA rules don't allow it. Recall that the NDCA rule defining the gender make up of couples was instituted after the 1998 SF Open offered a same-sex category that was completely separate from the regular categories. So, without the support of both the NDCA and USABDA, same-sex dancing in this country is facing extra hurdles of getting off the ground.

That's not to say that people don't want it. Last spring I worked at the California DanceSport Championships for Same-Sex Couples. It was a large, well-attended event. The number of entries were on par with local collegiate and USABDA competitions, but the number of spectators was greater than what we usually get -- even at NDCA competitions. I left this event thinking that if USABDA wants to grow dancesport, they should find a way to tap into this market. The crowd was very enthusiastic, and a number of the same-sex couples were women who had paired up with other women due to their inability to find approriate male partners for NDCA and/or USABDA events.

There's an opportunity here that's being missed. The big dance organizations in this country should be happy to welcome such enthusiastic dancers and spectators into their midst, and give them a "same-sex with lead changing" category, especially in this time of declining membership and smaller numbers of competitors at sanctioned events.
 
#26
Given the comments about lead-changing being a requirement in some of the existing same-sex competitions, I'm thinking that - particularly for smooth/standard - this might actually influence the selection of partners. For example, two female friends who compete together on the college circuit actually have a fairly classic leader-follower height difference. I'm not sure it would work so well for them to switch roles as more than an exercise - although the leader happens to follow expertly, the dynamics would be all wrong. So I wonder if not only training, but actual partnerships have some built in assumption of either fixed-roles or role-trading that may not always be perfectly adaptable to a different style of competition.
 
#27
I've not been able to read the article, because I'm not a paying customer of the Times. And I've never seen same-sex couples performing. But....

I see nothing wrong with expanding possibilities in couples dancing. I do think that between two men, whether they are a couple in the sexual sense or not, some of the gender-specific attitudes and postures of dance may look a little absurd or parodic. But anyone who has ever been to the ballet, or seen a moderately good production of West Side Story or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers knows that two men dancing together can be very exciting to watch. I do think there needs to be a shift in tone or expression to accommodate the gender shift--as even the romance of a gay couple will look and feel different from the romance of a heterosexual couple. But that's a matter for the performing couple to work out.

It's too bad that there's resistance to the mere idea--but what else can you expect in a country where almost half of the elected senators think they have the right much less the responsibility to tell private citizens who they can marry and who they can't?

Cheers,

Genesius
 

tsb

Well-Known Member
#28
has anyone considered the physical advantages a male follower might have in terms of stamina & strength if they were to be competing against couples with female followers? seems a little unfair. annika can make the cut playing on shorter men's courses, but if tiger played an LPGA event...
 

Laura

New Member
#29
That's a good point. The easy way around it is to have separate male/male and female/female events, just as there are mens' doubles and womens' doubles in tennis.

It's funny, but this question of "unfair physical advantage" is bandied about much more by traditional mixed-sex dancers than by the same-sex couples themselves! The same-sex circuit in Europe is set up so that male-male partnerships compete directly against female-female ones, and the people there seem satisfied with the arrangement. After all, they created the rules for themselves, so if they wanted it to be run differently the would run it differently.
 

tsb

Well-Known Member
#30
Laura said:
That's a good point. The easy way around it is to have separate male/male and female/female events, just as there are mens' doubles and womens' doubles in tennis.

It's funny, but this question of "unfair physical advantage" is bandied about much more by traditional mixed-sex dancers than by the same-sex couples themselves! The same-sex circuit in Europe is set up so that male-male partnerships compete directly against female-female ones, and the people there seem satisfied with the arrangement. After all, they created the rules for themselves, so if they wanted it to be run differently the would run it differently.
i wonder how that would work in a cabaret division where you tend to see a lot more lifts & stuff.

what i didn't mention before was that i think it was edie the salsafreak who suggested that ladies either study with a female instructor - or a female impersonator(!) - when it came to learning styling; the point being that men are capable of portraying a feminine presence - plus they can have a strength & stamina advantage.

maybe i should have tried out for high school field hockey. THAT i've got the legs for.
 

Warren J. Dew

Well-Known Member
#32
Just to provide another opinion about the actual dancing, I was at the event and watched this couple quite a bit. I was unimpressed with their dancing; I thought they deserved to make the first cut, but certainly not the final.

My biggest complaint was that, contrary to the claim that they "switched the lead back and forth", I didn't see a lead or follow at all. There didn't seem to be any visible connection between the two, and their timing was nearly always off from each other by a quarter to half a beat - it was as if they were listening to different music. I certainly saw none of the sensuous hip action I generally associate with good latin ladies responding to their partners' lead, nor did I see much of the presence that I associate with good latin men.

Technically, they appeared to be adequate, though their action was sluggish compared to the other finalists. I honestly think they made the final on the strength of the novelty of their partnership rather than on the quality of their dancing.

Note that I'm not necessarily against same sex couples in principle. I remember seeing the male half of the then U.S. amateur 10 dance champions dancing as a female a few years ago, and he was a much better lady than most of the actual female dancers out there - and would have been even had he not worn his regular partner's dress. The male couple at the MIT comp, however, was not dancing anything that was recognizably ballroom - and whatever it was that they were dancing, they weren't doing it all that well.

By the way, you can judge for yourself by downloading the videos at the MIT site. Here's the URL, if it's okay to put URLs in this forum:

http://ballroom.mit.edu/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=MIT04-Videos
 

SDsalsaguy

Administrator
Staff member
#33
Warren J. Dew said:
By the way, you can judge for yourself by downloading the videos at the MIT site. Here's the URL, if it's okay to put URLs in this forum:

http://ballroom.mit.edu/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=MIT04-Videos
No problem at all Warren, and thanks for providing it! Definitely helps concretize the dancing in question, which is, of course, a separate issue from the policies being discussed.

Just to clarify Dance Forums policies:

As long as the content is appropriate, URLs may always be posted. The only stipulation—and in line with our goal of maintaining quality discussions unadulterated by commercial interests—is that active links to commercial sites can only be posted in the Ads/Events and Webs forums.
 

Laura

New Member
#34
Well, I've watched the videos, and it's difficult to get a sense of the guys' dancing because one judge was in front of them most of the time -- there were really only a few short glimpses. We'll have to go on eyewitness accounts. I must say that I don't like those see-through mesh shirts on them -- or on every single other guy I saw pictures of from MIT save one. The only person in the photo albums who I think looked great in a mesh shirt was Boris L. (Diana Sirkis's partner).

But hey, the dancers who I could actually see in that Pre-Champ Latin event looked good -- it must have been an exciting event! Thanks to Warren for the link and Eric (in the credits) for the tape.
 

Warren J. Dew

Well-Known Member
#35
Laura said:
Well, I've watched the videos, and it's difficult to get a sense of the guys' dancing because one judge was in front of them most of the time
Unfortunately, yes. It was nice to have a video platform, but the platform really needed to be a couple feet higher.
But hey, the dancers who I could actually see in that Pre-Champ Latin event looked good
That's a good point. I might have ended up with a better impression of the male couple if their opposition hadn't been as strong as it was.
 
#36
Well, I was certainly there. (If you checked out the videos, I'm dancing with my partner in the Advanced American rhythm sections. [Carlton Young and Yuliya Lobacheva]).

When I saw that a same-sex couple was going to dance, I was a little skeptical at first. Why? Well, since there are so many more women than men participating in this activity, I thought it was rather selfish of them to take on a male/male dance partnership. In my experience, the need for good quality male dancers to partner up with women is high. However, as my partner reminded me, it's not about pairing up a man and a woman to dance in a competition, it's about dancing with someone who shares the same passion for the dance as you do. She's quite insightful, isn't she?

With that in mind, I saw Russell and Jorge dance and I was quite impressed with their ability. They were fairly strong dancers, good enough to make the cut into the next rounds. While Jorge does say that people were cheering them on (and indeed they were, myself included), I couldn't help but think that folks were cheering them on mainly because of the novelty of it.

I also thought that the switching of leads was a bit unfair because one partner could be a strong lead in one dance, like Cha Cha, and the other partner strong in another dance. They actually do switch leads as I verified this with 2 of their coaches who told them about the MIT comp. I understand that in same-sex competitions it's within the rules to do so.

However, the other couples on the floor had a consistent lead and follower requiring the lead to be a strong leader in ALL of the dances. Although they did not finish well, there was a female/female couple in Pre-Champ Latin, and their partnership was certain; there was a definite lead and a definite follower.

I have to commend Russell and Jorge for being pioneers of incorporating same-sex competitions, and I am all for the comprimised solution of having a separate category for these couples in NDCA and USABDA events because it makes the competition fair. However, ballroom dancing is a subculture and what Russell and Jorge would develop is a subculture within a subculture. Whether or not it would be successful is a question. Whether or not it would help bring ballroom dancing into the mainstream is another.

-Carlton
 

Laura

New Member
#37
cy_phi said:
Although they did not finish well, there was a female/female couple in Pre-Champ Latin, and their partnership was certain; there was a definite lead and a definite follower.
Was that Camille & Kilee from Sacramento? I thought I saw them in the photo album but wasn't sure. Camille (the leaader) sometimes competes under funny stage names. I'm not suprised that they didn't finish well.
 
#38
Laura said:
cy_phi said:
Although they did not finish well, there was a female/female couple in Pre-Champ Latin, and their partnership was certain; there was a definite lead and a definite follower.
Was that Camille & Kilee from Sacramento? I thought I saw them in the photo album but wasn't sure. Camille (the leaader) sometimes competes under funny stage names. I'm not suprised that they didn't finish well.
Yes, it was them. :)
 

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