Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
rtg24

Beautiful Ballroom & Latin

8 posts in this topic

Quite a while ago, the woman who was my second half introduced me to a world I had no idea existed. It was brutal and elitist; but it was also focused on sophistication, on effort, on hard work, long term rewards, and a beauty ideal. I was rapidly hooked. Unfortunately, I wasn't her second half, so she's gone; but the world of ballroom & latin remains with me to this day. I think you can only "get it" if you try it. Watching it is, I grant you, beautiful; performing it, entering this world, however, should be any Objectivist's absolute delight, and from browsing the Forum I have seen quite a few members know exactly what I mean :D

We can hardly dance together as this is a text based information sharing platform. But we can do the next best thing, which is to celebrate those who have achieved close to perfection in the art of dance, and were fortunate enough to be recorded.

In this thread, I will start by posting my favourite videos. I am only familiar with International B&L (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballroom_dance#Dances for an explanation of the difference between International and American styles) so will predominantly focus on those.

I also discovered, much more recently, the art of Argentine Tango. What I have sampled convinced me rapidly that whilst this is not quite as showy and technical as ballroom, it more than made it up in the extremely personal and improvising aspect of the dance, which makes it a delightful casual dance for you and your partner (I will take the risk of being shot by Ballroom dancers and say that whilst B&L is about performing, tango is about a conversation; sure, not quite as black and white, but you get what I mean :D ). Suffice to say my spouse will be an expert, and this is what we will do in the evenings when there is spare time.

Let's start with some classics.

Brian Watson and Carmen Vincelj, Cha:

This is the video my former second half used to convince me to go to my first lesson. I hope it will convince you to sign up too. I like Watson & Vincelj because they are so technically perfect and yet make it work very naturally (which is why they win so much). This is what "latin" is "supposed" to be.

Same couple, Jive:

The most fun. Also the most tiring and damaging to your feet. I started endurance sports in part to be able to survive multiple jives.

Same couple, Samba:

Also great fun, but I always feel this does not belong to competition dancing... you'll see why below.

Let's have a look at those dances done a bit more... experimentally with Michael Wentink and Beata, doing the above dances.

Cha:

Jive:

And the reason for which I am picking Wentink, the Samba:

Wasn't that pure fun?

Finally, the Queen of the five Latin dances. The Rumba. There is one performance that has always touched me deepest, and I don't think it will ever be topped. Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff, 2004: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpKGY-AZO5M

Ayn Rand said, if I remember well, that one way of determining the skill of ballet dancers was in how weightless they appeared. Well, watch this woman fly. I may well copy this for my wedding, in a long, long time (and after long, long hours of further practice :D). The Rumba is the closest thing to a tango conversation in B&L.

I am omitting Paso because I find it rather dull, to be honest. Same music, same steps. You learn your routine, you do it, and the closer it is to what it's supposed to be, the higher the score. Zzzzzz. Have a look if you must:

- guess the drama is fun.

Next post: ballroom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could watch this all day long. With all due respect for the men, I simply can't keep my eyes off the women and the way they move. The first clip is particularly stunning the way the dress sets off her incredible movements - it is awe inspiring. Alas I don't have any of that rhythm in me, but I just love to see this human expression.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very few people do, initially. The first few weeks are hard. It's an investment that pays off, though, as you finally "crack it" and start moving with the music.

Give it a shot... it's very popular in all Anglo-Saxon countries!

I haven't had time to upload much ballroom yet. I'll leave just one clip:

Hint: watch the feet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know what, it's 1.30am, and I was planning on going to sleep. But because of you I got caught up in the Hiltons again. So might as well continue.

Marcus and Karen Hilton are a British couple who rapidly rose to the top of the Latin world. They got bored and branched out to Ballroom, the Holy Grail of dance. They were world champions 9 consecutive times. If somebody feels like suggesting a more fitting couple for demonstrations, go ahead (I always love discovering new fantastic couples). I'll stick with them for now :D

There are five dances in International Ballroom. You will have heard of one: the waltz. It's posted above.

Viennese Waltz is what you probably think about when people talk about Waltz:

(I also posted a very impressive performance I attended at the Neujahrskonzert in Vienna in 2007 by Vienna Ballet dancers at the Musikverein. Incredible to watch. Somewhat different in mood, though)

Quickstep:

(International/Ballroom) Tango:

(starts 1min in - this is very different from Argentine Tango - I'll get to it)

And the hardest, Foxtrot:

Good night folks :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Three quick tango videos (can't really leave it behind). Argentine Tango is very different from Ballroom - opposed, indeed. It's about improvisation. The man leads the woman (much like in B&L) but the steps are not choregraphed.

1. Libertango, my favourite tango piece:

This is a very simple, not very showy clip. And yet it keeps touching me. I hope you will feel the same. Maybe it is because that's how I feel towards tango. Simple, gentle conversation with a partner. It's so... civilized, and intimate.

2. If you ever attend a demo (for example your teachers), it will look like this:

- note open embrace (which is actually harder) and wonderful flicks.

3. Can't mention Tango without Scent of a Woman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBHhSVJ_S6A - great example of a close embrace. Not particularly well danced after the above two, but superbly acted - I felt exactly like at my first milongas.

Also, Arnold, I must say that technically, the man is supposed to be a "canvas" on which the woman "paints", so your focus was justified :D

If you are starting with a partner, you will often hear her complain that her steps are harder. Well, girls are more gifted for it anyway. And the complaining magically stops when she turns heads by executing a perfect routine...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been heavy into ballroom for 5 years. Check out this

of my instructor and her husband (the first couple) who are currently number 2 in the world in open smooth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

rtg24, Thanks for those beautiful performances. The Rumba really was spectacular. The Cha Cha's also, but, with all due respect to the phenomenal technical brilliance of the International Latin and the beautiful lines that the straight leg technique makes possible, I really am still a fan of the American Rhythym Cuban motion, the more sensual, rounded feel of the dance. Can't argue with perfection, though. That's an amazing collection of videos; wow!

Ed, thanks for the great show dance from Marzena and Slawik. That was brilliant -- hilarious and breathtaking at the same time. Knowing that they're a happily-married couple and the natural chemistry between them just makes their work more affecting.

I'm currently studying the American syllabus, but I crossed the line to take a Quickstep class and I love it, though I wasn't sure I would. I've seen many herd-of-buffalo versions of that dance, but, at least as far as I've gone, it has the feel of a high-energy Foxtrot, which it kinda is.

This is a great thread. Thanks to rtg24 for starting it. I don't think there's dance more beautiful than well-done ballroom. It has the best elements of classical and popular dance, but with an emphasis on the relationship between the man and the woman and a more balanced division of labor than the coat-hanger male dancer in a ballet pas de deux.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alann, please feel free to upload some American videos! I would be glad to discover the style. Please, if you have time, do go into each style and what they are about - I'd love to hear more about it.

And now another style which really does not quite compare :D. There are as many styles as there are teachers. Essentially it comes down to showy versus social. I'd say the advantage of salsa is that no matter where you go (provided it is near a very large city such as LA, NYC, London...) there will be very, very good dancers most nights and you will get a good show after your lesson. I have witnessed better than the below more often than not.

Here's showy:

Also... I must admit, after searching around for paso, that I was extremely surprised at the level of creativity this dance seems to rouse at the highest level of competitions. These guys do not dance quite as well as the best of the best; but this is more than made up by the amazing choregraphy:

I'll post some more later but it is impossible to follow that show with anything else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0