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The importance of recording the history of Ballroom Dancing

by Brigitt Mayer-Karakis,
chief of the historical committee in the Education Department of WDC&AL

Dancing is the favourite activity for millions of people worldwide. The desire to move graciously on the floor seems to be synonymous with the way we want to move through life.

Being still a very young activity, ballroom dancing has gone through so many stages and has grown so many branches. From socially unacceptable, to social activity, to Olympic sport, or as an art form, these changes took over 100 years, very little of which has been recorded.

The pioneers have passed away and we are losing more and more of the ones who still remember its origins. As in any other field, the thinkers and artists should be acknowledged and have a platform from which to speak.

We need to preserve the knowledge and the stories of the great masters of this field, give them the recognition they deserve, and provide a forum for them to speak to the generations to come, so that this art form can stay genuine and authentic in order to develop into something bigger with even greater skills. Ballroom dancing will always change and develop like any other art due to changing socio-cultural circumstances and other currents. Therefore, it is even more important to strengthen its roots, and nurture the dialogue of generations.

Periodically the public turns an eye on us. The subject of the “relationship” of people in ballroom dancing has inspired great movies with wonderful actors. More and more we find out how vital it is for our soul, our physical health and our entire humanity to interact with others in a pleasant environment, and yes, even work hard on our human weaknesses.

I can think of few activities where you constantly have to consider the other person, lose part of your ego in order to gain, multi-task by following the music, lead or be led, incorporate or ignore the environment with all its distractions, act and react knowingly on an emotional level, and all that with a member of the opposite gender in order to achieve the common goal — to move with grace as one. If the attempt is genuine and the effort strong, more than this is achieved. We grow as human beings.

©Brigitt Mayer-Karakis
2009, Oakville, Canada
from Ballroom Icons

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