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From Ballroom to DanceSport

Aesthetics, Athletics, and Body Culture

Caroline Joan S. Picart

Publication Year: 2006

Drawing on recent media portrayals and her own experience, author and dancer Caroline Joan S. Picart explores ballroom dancing and its more “sporty” equivalent, DanceSport, suggesting that they are reflective of larger social, political, and cultural tensions. The past several years have seen a resurgence in the popularity of ballroom dance as well as an increasing international anxiety over how and whether to transform ballroom into an Olympic sport. Writing as a participant-critic, Picart suggests that both are crucial sites where bodies are packaged as racialized, sexualized, nationalized, and classed objects. In addition, Picart argues, as the choreography, costuming, and genre of ballroom and DanceSport continue to evolve, these theatrical productions are aestheticized and constructed to encourage commercial appeal, using the narrative frame of the competitive melodrama to heighten audience interest.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Communication Studies

From Ballroom to DanceSport

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p. v


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I wish to thank the English department of Florida State University for allowing me a research leave in spring 2004, which enabled me to finish this project, as well as a Research and Creativity Award, which enabled me to travel and acquire necessary research materials. I owe a debt of thanks to several student assistants whose assistance in getting every little formatting ...

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1. The Contested Landscape of Ballroom Dance: Culture, Gender, Race, Class, and Nationality in Performance

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pp. 1-28

Two things prompt the writing of this book. First, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of ballroom dancing, as evidenced in the rapid incorporation of ballroom classes into physical education programs and the development of college scholarships; its incorporation into a boom of commercial films, such as the Australian Strictly Ballroom (1992), the Japanese ...

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2. Dancing through Different Worlds: An Autoethnography of the Interactive Body and Virtual Emotions in Ballroom Dance

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pp. 29-38

The following is a reflection on my own experiences of the nature of gendered and embodied interaction in the realm of competitive American-style ballroom dance, which is presented predominantly in the form of a video, funded through research grants from St. Lawrence University. Issues of femininity/masculinity, being subject-objects of the...

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3. Ballroom Dance and the Movies

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pp. 39-67

The transformation of ballroom into DanceSport to some extent is rootedin its popularity in contemporary films. There is a broad range of films that use a ballroom motif (see the appendix for a filmography of some of these).The ones that I focus on in this chapter are among the best known, and despite their multiple international origins (Japan, Australia, England), have...

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4. Paving the Road to the Olympics: Staging and Financing the Olympic Dream

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pp. 69-88

The above tirade of complaints regarding NBC’s coverage of and commentary on DanceSport’s debut as an officially recognized sport in the closing ceremonies of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 contextualizes this book, which deals with the transformation of ballroom dance as a recreational activity or art into a sport. Nevertheless, the less than complimentary commentary was far from the only problem in the showcasing ...

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5. Packaging Fantasy and Morality

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pp. 89-106

Kathy Gibbons, national secretary of DanceSport South Africa, teaches ballroom at East Side College in Troyeville, Johannesburg, and in some other schools in the city. She laments the fact that there are no boys in these classes, blaming fathers who choose to encourage their sons to play soccer and rugby instead.1 Yet an interesting facet of ballroom, whether in the international...

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6. Quo Vadis?

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pp. 107-119

In chapters 4 and 5, tracing the evolution of ballroom dance from a recreation or performance art into a competitive sport has served as a through which rhetorical constructions of gender, race, class, sexuality,and nationality may be critically examined. The point of the exercise has been less to bash this highly popular and demanding art and sport form...

Ballroom-Dance-Related Organizations

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pp. 121-124

Appendix: Filmography of Selected DanceSport and Ballroom Films

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pp. 125-137


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pp. 139-150


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pp. 151-159


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pp. 161-167

E-ISBN-13: 9780791482414
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791466292
Print-ISBN-10: 0791466299

Page Count: 177
Illustrations: 14 b/w photographs
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: SUNY series in Communication Studies
Series Editor Byline: Dudley D. Cahn See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 64560494
MUSE Marc Record: Download for From Ballroom to DanceSport

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Subject Headings

  • Ballroom dancing -- Social aspects.
  • Popular culture.
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