Tag Archives: dance team

Show Circle

Main Piece: Show Circles happen just moments before performers go on stage. Depending on the company/team it gets more or less intense. The entire company gets in a tight circle with all the coaches around us for a pep talk. It has to happen always in order to have a good show. My team has to have our arms around each other with one foot in, but I’ve seen some complicated ones that require spinning and a ton of other stuff. Our head coach is in the middle of the circle, with any supporting coaches around us.

Context: The informant is a dancer on an international US dance team called V-Mo. She has been in dance clubs ever since high school. As a dancer, she’s experienced many traditions and rituals that her teams use to get ready and set the mood.

Thoughts: I have seen this before for not only dancers but many performers and athletes as well. What happens in these circles is almost never the same from what I’ve seen but emotions and adrenaline that are elicited from these are unlike any other. I really like this concept because it shows how supportive teams are of each other.

Full Out and Mark

Informant: I’m not sure where it came from but in all hip hop dance classes I’ve ever taken we refer to a “mark” as a run through of choreo that isn’t as full energy, something you use to remember new steps or different aspects of the choreography you want to focus on. A “full out” run is one that is full energy, full facial performance, full movements. That is a run that is going to be most close to what you’d see on stage as if we were performing right in that moment.

Context: The informant is a dancer on an international US dance team called V-Mo. She has been in dance clubs ever since high school. As a dancer who has attended various dance classes, she gets to experience all the nuances that come with the classes.

Thoughts: From what I’ve heard, practice and the actual performance are two very different things. This slang is very similar to athletes who practice as if they were in a game. The two types of run throughs show how dancers are precise with their leaning and are smart when it comes to the conservation of energy, especially since dancing is physically demanding just like any other sport. 

Dance Team Tradition/Ritual

I asked a fellow classmate if she had any specific traditions that she has been a part of or has passed on to any of her friends or family. When I asked she responded about a particular tradition that she had in high school involving her dance team.

 

Greer said that “In high school I was a member of the dance team which was only 11 or so members each year. We had an annual show that was our main production and what we spent most of our time working towards. As a team, we had a tradition that I learned as a freshmen and apparently had been happening on the team for years before me. Before a show opened we would stand in a line on the stage & hold hands and and walk up to the curtain and kiss it for good luck and for a good show.”

 

Background Info: Greer was on her high school dance team for all four years of high school, and learned this tradition from the previous elders on the same high school dance team. This tradition was a very important part of the culture of this dance team and was a beneficial part of their bond.

 

Context: I learned about this tradition while at coffee with Greer, we both shared stories about certain traditions that we were familiar with or were a part of throughout our lives.

 

Analysis: I thought this was very interesting how this tradition was learned when she was a freshman and carried throughout her four years of high school. Greer shared that she then taught the younger generation of dancers on this same team the same tradition, keeping the legacy of this strong. This reminded me of a tradition that I had with my lacrosse team that we started my freshman year of high school: before exiting the locker room we would all jump up and tap the top of the exit door while we were running out to the field. High school sports are definitely a major theme where many traditions and rituals are found and practiced.

“Don’t date your dance partner”

“Something we tell our new people is a warning that you shouldn’t date your dance partner. So, here’s the thing: this used to be followed all the time. When I got here, nobody was dating anybody on our team, and this is out of 50 people on the dance team – I don’t know the real number – and about 20 competitors…wait, I take it back. There was one couple: Nick and Claire. Nick and Claire were dating, but nobody else was dating. Nick and Claire came in as a couple already, and so they became dance partners. They didn’t dance together for everything, though they did dance together for some things. What we don’t like is when people meet through the ballroom dance team, dance with each other for a while, and then say, ‘You know what? I’mma date you.’ This happens in the professional world a lot. Professional dancers, they’re usually 16-17 years old – they’re young – when they meet each other. Well, sometimes they’re 23-24 years old when they meet each other, but usually it’s fairly young, and they dance with each other for a while. Whatever the exact age, they’re young, and they’re all kinds of hormonal, and they’re dancing with a very attractive person, these professionals. ‘I’m hormonal. I’m dancing with a hot person, and this hot person knows how to use their body. Yes, I’m going to try to make something out of this,’ and they do, all the time. They get married sometimes, and then they divorce each other. It almost always happens. I mean, there are a few cases where it doesn’t happen – they’ve learned how to make it work – but it’s usually a disaster in the professional world to date your dance partner, because you break up, and then you can’t dance together anymore, and the you gotta go find a new partner, but you’re older, and everybody’s already taken. Then, your career is done. So, finding somebody you click with is important, and then not trying to have sex with that person is equally important once that first part is done. On our team, we recommend the same thing. If you have a dance partner, that’s great. Work really hard to not date them or try to be more than friends with them, because if you do, when you try, it’s an easy way to lose a dance partner. So, it’s a little odd that we had a lot of people over the last two or three years end up dating the people that they dance with. Sometimes, they started to dance with the people that they’re dating. That happened to me. That happened to…actually, I think that happened to most people. They met first, started dating, and then said, ‘hey, we’re going to dance together.’ Usually, we’re still pretty good about being like, ‘We’re going to dance together. Oooh, I like you. Let’s do this thing.’ It’s easier when you go from dating to dance partners than from dance partners to dating, but it still carries risks, so we advise people to treat your dance relationship like your regular relationship: talk about things and seek help from others when you need it.”

Background Information and Context:

What the informant is describing is based on his years of experience on the SC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team. There is no way to say – at least, not without surveying members of multiple dance teams – whether the phenomenon of having a lot of couples on a dance team is exclusive to the SC Ballroom and Latin Dance team or, if it is not exclusive, if the couples on other dance teams act like those on USC’s team. Although, I have heard similar advice of being wary of the person with whom you start a relationship in other teams and in other contexts, such as work. This part of our conversation was more personal in nature than the topics that preceded, and I was mildly surprised that the informant, for the most part, kept his personal opinions out.

Collector’s Notes:

What was interesting about this topic is that I hadn’t originally intended to ask about it but noted to the informant that I found it odd that both of us are dating our dance partners. I’d heard the general opinion that dating your dance partner leads to unnecessary complications in both the romantic and dance relationship, but still, nobody dissuaded me when my boyfriend first asked me out, months after we’d started talking about becoming competition partners. On our team, there didn’t seem to be any negative examples of such a relationship to make me worry beyond the passing thought. I think it’s interesting that dancing, especially ballroom dancing, is heavily romanticized, and performers are criticized if their dance lacks passion, romance, tenderness, etc., but actual romance, specifically a new romance, is met with wariness. Moreover, it is interesting that popular media so often portrays romance/attraction and drama/angst as inextricable from each other. The connotations of dancing and romance seem at odds with each other.

If you hear this song, stop what you’re doing, and warm up

“Jonathan likes to use the same warm-up song over and over again if he can, and he does these exercises that are always the same for warm-ups because they work. Tendus and other things, exercises where you work your hips while pointing your feet (still seated, he locks the fingers of both hands together, holds his arms in front of him, and moves his feet in an approximation of one of the warm-up exercises) and other actions to really build up muscle memory for the articulations that you need to have in order to do good rhythm dancing – cha cha, rumba, etc. So, whenever I hear, ‘She’s up all night ‘til the sun. We’re up all night for good fun,’ (he sings these lyric) or whatever the actual words of the song are. Get Lucky, I think. Daft Punk. Whenever I hear that on the radio, or in the supermarket, or especially next to Jonathan, I’ll immediately stop what I’m doing, stand up, put things down, and get into my warm up posture (he demonstrates the warm-up posture again), and do the stuff, because that’s the song that I warmed up to a lot a couple of years ago. He thinks it’s pretty funny. It’s ruined the song for me. Actually, it’s made the song great for me. It’s a pretty good song, and it suits the warm ups well.”

Background Information and Context:

Every coach has a different style of teaching and different preferences for warming up (if they even guide their students through warm ups at all, instead of expecting them to warm up before class). What the informant described is a pre-class ritual of sorts that seems distinctive of Jonathan’s rhythm classes. Jonathan is the rhythm coach of the SC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team, which means that he instructs cha cha, rumba, east coast swing, mambo, and bolero. His style of teaching and warm-ups are very different from those of the team’s smooth coach, who teaches waltz, tango, foxtrot, and Viennese waltz. He never skips warm ups, even when running late, and plays the full length of the song at least once, if not twice, until he feels that the students have been properly warmed up before reviewing figures from the previous class. The habit of breaking out into the warm-up routine at seemingly improper times is not unique to this informant, as it is a habit shared by multiple active members of the team.

Collector’s Notes:

Traditions and associations are no less powerful because they only affect a small group of people. It doesn’t matter that nobody else knew what was going on when a handful of team members started twisting their hips and pointing their toes in perfect sync in the middle of a restaurant because it was a sign of their connection, formed through shared knowledge and experience. On a small scale, the warm-up exercises also have their own multiplicity and variation based on when one joined the team. The informant described an association with “Get Lucky,” but my friend Sara and I (who joined the team last year) have the same association with “Moves Like Jagger,” while my friend Queenique (who joined this year) associates the warm-ups with “Feel It Still.”