Ballet is [not] the foundation of dance. 

I have to agree with the author of this article. It has occurred to me many times that there is a very strong bias in dance. It is so common for TV dance and talent shows such as So you think you can dance, to feature a belly dancer and/ or a few ‘ethnic’ dancers in their initially auditions teasers. If the actual audition was shown, it would invariably get a patronising smile and a comment along the lines of ‘very entertaining’ … NEXT! As if to say – ‘There! We endured that spectacle to make the selection process seem diverse, now lets get to the proper dancers.’
Mary Murphy’s guest judging on the Australian SYTYCD a number of years back ,will be forever burned in my mind – “BOLLYWOOD!”‘ she shrieked, “What the hell is Bollywood?” (Ok, I am not sure if that was word perfect but it was something close to that).
I was shocked. Even relatively conservative people in the regional area I live in have heard of Bollywood movies and associate them with dance sequences. For a dance ‘judge’ on a show purportedly about choosing the best all round dancer, I found this admission quite horrifying.
Don’t get me wrong – I loved watching SYTYCD (particularly the Aussie version) and have met and danced with choreographers and finalists on the show. I am glad the show was created. It has raised the profile of dancers and for that I am grateful.
Nor do I have it in for Ballet.
I have taught those with a Ballet background, I found them excellent with lines and turns but that they often struggled with hip and chest isolations. This doesn’t mean Ballet is bad or Belly dance is bad. They offer a different aesthetic and style of movement. I just take the fairly radical view that I don’t believe one is superior to the other.
PS, I don’t like the term ‘ethnic’ to describe non-european dances but used it here to make a point about the culturally perspective that prevails in Australia, Europe and the US. I also enjoyed this scholarly article and argument that Ballet could be considered ‘ethnic’ depending on ones perspective 😉
What are your thoughts? Please comment below.

The Adventures of J Lyn

“Ballet is the most important style to train in.”

“Ballet gives you the foundation to do all dance styles.”

“Ballet is the foundation of dance.”

For the past month and a half I have been living in a country where ballet and ballet-based genre classes barely exist. I don’t see pointed feet. Teachers don’t communicate in French terminology. Not in recreational dance classes, not in rehearsals for the National Company, not in the Dance Department’s studies at the University of Ghana. Here taking a technique class means training in Traditional Ghanaian dance. Here claiming to be a dancer means you are skilled at both Adowa and Azonto. Here Traditional Ghanaian dances are the foundation of dance exploration and studies.

Here an Afrocentric approach is enough. Is valid. Is complete.

Yet in the States I can’t escape hearing, “Ballet is the most important style to train in. Ballet gives you the…

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