Peter Eggleton, on the reasons for Ballroom Dancing

By Peter Eggleton, May 2011

It appears to me that the time is nigh to think back a little on the reasons for ‘ballroom dancing’ When it was allowed to stand close to a lady in a public place – strange as it may seem – at one point, people doing that were put in prison for indecent behaviour in a public place! The grand house balls employed orchestras for dancing and the rotary waltz was ‘de rigeur’ – very erect, very close on a straight line.

Never forget that ballroom dancing was for many people on the floor, not the few, and anti-clockwise and parallel to the walls was the important and mandatory direction! It possibly seems strange to us now, but, for example, the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool employed marshalls who would ensure just that! A little tap on the shoulder was all that was required!

However, I digress. To ensure the possibility of another dance, the man, if he was relishing the aquaintance, would not crush the lady in a bearlike hug, but try to present her and allow her to be graceful and, admired by her friends.

That perception, if I may say so, is sadly lacking in what is perpretated as competitive ballroom dancing today. The qualities, that formerly, enabled the musically beautiful and exciting presentations, have, sadly, been sacrificed on the altar of speed and power! Ballroom dancing is not a speed trial, but, in the full flexibility of execution necessary for musical interpretation at a high level, it does cover a remarkable amount of ground!

I am well aware that the term Dancesport, enables money to be paid from the government, but that is no excuse for allowing the total destruction of the tenets of ballroom dancing, so faithfully developed over the years, to be wilfully ignored.

There is no instant dance, but the study could, and should be fruitful and edifying. Let’s take out the savagery, listen to all the nuances in the music, make our movement satisfying to both parties, and the watcher, for everyone’s sake!

Peter Eggleton

4 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Great article! As a ballroom dancer trained by Ad de Bruijn ( the Netherlands) we just focused on the thecnical aspects, real critical footwork(!) to create a steady top, and musicality. Hard work and so fulfilling in our development as dancers. We studied Mirko and Alessia, Luca and Lorraine and Arunas and Katusha.

  2. Thank you Peter, you are si right !
    I’m 69 years old and had the pleasure to be teached
    by you in Berlin, at the TC royal Berlin, as a young amateure
    and I’m still profitying from those group-lessons!
    You are so right, that there is a loss by ignorance ti the
    beauty and sense of music !
    Dancing is really not high-jumping and fast movement,
    but filling the movements with elegance and feelings !
    Best wishes to you !

  3. Emphasizing the ‘sport’ in ballroom dancing might have helped the competitive scene to grow but, for those of us who are never going to compete (i.e. most of us who come to it later in life), it is encouraging to see that a ballroom dancer with such an illustrious career should write an article which hints at the value of artistry, beauty and social interaction: things we might still seek to develop.

  4. Thank you, Peter!

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