Some hate to see their stereotypes die.

Some hate to see their stereotypes die.

Having been involved in the dance industry for over 30 years, it is only natural to see it go through cycles.  Music is a necessary part of any dance’s development and it also changes in style, and popularity over time.  Dance is certainly enjoying another up-cycle with all the movies and shows that feature dance in various forms and rhythms.

Not since Dance Fever and prior to that the Merv Griffin Show and then The Arthur Murray Dance Party has dance attracted this much participation from the stars.  America loves its celebrities and their involvement in any activity has always spurred the public in general to follow suit and try it.  Whether that something is fashion, foods, exercise programs or a sport, it is what makes celebrity endorsements and product placements so effective in advertising.

What makes this cycle so interesting is not that the stars are now involved, but that there don’t appear to be any of the other usual factors.  Those factors usually include new music styles or genres.  If it wouldn’t include new ones, it would at least include a reintroduction of a style through new artists or shows.  Just as the Trot rhythms were reintroduced to contemporary society with the music of Squirrel Nut Zippers and later old ballads sung as new duets and solos by contemporary artists.

Looking back, we find the Trots that led to the Foxtrots were first introduced at the turn of the 20th Century.  Jazz would come a little later.  The Latin beats and rhythms would come first through movies and shows, and later become engrained in society through Latin American immigration and their influence on the American music scene.  Big Band music and swing bands popularized a new up beat all American rhythm.  Beach party and surfing music offered yet another style.  Disco, heavy metal, country-western, and hip-hop have brought forth new variations, line dances, and new steps as well as entirely new ways to be expressive in dance.  Add to that we also have a new generation of skeptics.

These skeptics, like previous ones, hate to see their stereotypes altered.  Mike Gallagher, a syndicated radio talk show host expounded after the first week of this season’s Dancing with the Stars series that Emmet Smith of football fame should not be, “…prancing around” and even argued with callers who suggested that maybe Emmet, “… is very secure in himself…” and therefore there was nothing wrong with him dancing.  It has been previously reported that athletes use various forms of dancing to develop agility, balance, coordination, etc.  That is why I find it amazing that any supposedly informed host would denigrate a man who is able to hold a truly lovely lady in his arms, and participate in an activity that most ladies love.  Is his objection equally strong when a whole team of just men go to dance class if it results in more wins on the field?  The saying is, “Grown men don’t cry” not “Grown men don’t dance”.

It cannot be a conservative’s natural disdain for the politically correct.  If nothing else, dance is a male dominated sport.  Men go forward – ladies go back.  Men lead – ladies follow.  Men see what is going on – Ladies see the traffic after it has passed.  By any realistic evaluation, this has to be one of the last vestiges of male chauvinism.  As to conservative idols, I remember pictures of Ronald Reagan dancing with Nancy.  So if ever an activity needed a conservative blessing, Reagan should be qualified to give it.

More likely it is a personal thing.  If I can’t do it, it can’t be good.  What so many people admire about the stars is their willingness to put it on the line, so to speak.  Even with great teachers, edited flashbacks, and hours of practice it is still a competition.  It is a competition of style, for popularity, and yes, even talent.  I don’t know what the problem is.  This is as American as it gets.

Michael Reichenbach

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