Location: New York, NY USA
When I attend ballroom and latin competitions as a spectator or a competitor, I'm often one of only a few African-Americans present. I'd like to network with other African-Americans in the NYC area who are involved in any level or style of competitive ballroom dancing
This has concerned me also. I am not african american but I suspect that I know the reason why this is so. When a new potential dancer enters a studio he or she is usually intimidated to some degree. Add to this nervousness the fact that all of the people in the studio are usually white or asian. It is a big step to go in, be self consious to the inability to do what the people around seem to be able to do and then look different as well.
There are a number of very good african american ballroom dancers in the NY area. Those, I know, are better than average dancers. The social side of ballroom developed as an activity for the average person. Good dancers are always welcome at socials so hang in there and add yourself to the dance scene. I don't know any studio that wouldn't welcome you. Enjoy.
I am a African American female you enjoys Ballroom/Latin dancing and is a member of USABDA, however, I live in Texas. Like you, I to only see one or two others (always female) at competitions.
I have been encourage to continue devloping this skill (at the moment I am learning the American Rhythm and Smooth) by Tony Meredith and Alicia & Vincent Duhon.
I can not help but wonder how far would I be able to go. I wonder because of:
Location: cleveland, oh
I am African-American and I compete regularly. My partner and I recently won pre-champ rhythm at Nationals. We have been competing for over three years. I do see some African-Americans at regional, and collegiate comps, however I do not see very many. My partner is white and I have never had the opportunity to dance with someone of my own race. I have had a wonderful time dancing both socially, and competatively. Most people I have met have been supportive and friendly.
Right now I am taking a break from dancing due to issues of race. It would be nice to e-mail you privately on the subject.
Location: Lake Hopatcong, NJ, USA
I have a few things to say: 1) if you love to dance...don't let anything or anybody stop you or intimidate you; 2) good male ballroom dancers are hard to find...period! And as far as partners go, it takes a lot of time to find the right one, no matter who you are! and 3) no matter where you go or what you do, there seems to be a NORM or an average of what most people look like....most women fall into an "average" height range, and weight range, same for men...if you're taller than everyone else, fatter than everyone else, skinnier...etc., or in my case bustier than everyone else....believe me...you stand out. But we are not dogs...we don't sniff each other...we stare. Being stared at makes us feel intimidated. So what? It passes. I'm a white female, but I was amply endowed in the bust area, to top it off, I wear my hair long and when I walk into a room, women get a tighter hold on their husbands...this is not a compliment to me, it intimidates me. But I do what I went there to do. I learn to dance. After a while, it usually takes an hour, people stop staring at me because they saw all there was to see and went on to stare at someone else.
I brought an African-American guy from work dancing with me once. Not only was he quite dark, but he was also quite tall. We BOTH got stared at...for about an hour...then they forgot all staring at us and continued their dancing. Before another hour went by we had people talking to us and dancing with us and we fit in just fine. People are people...don't let anyone stop you from doing what you like to do.
As far as men go, I think one of the problems with them is they like what comes easy and natural for them. I've read many times that men have a hard time doing more than one thing at a time. If they have to concentrate on keeping the rhythm, communicate to their partner what they intend on doing next, AND navigate around the room, this becomes too much of a challenge for most of them. You'll find most men come with their wives and there are very few single men who dance voluntarily. I also found that almost any man, of any race, will stick to what he knows best. They don't mind getting up in a club or bar and just dancing around the floor, but ballroom is very structured, requires concentration, learning something new and totally unfamiliar, then getting up in public and trying to look good doing it. There's a shortage of men dancers and we have to get used to it. So if you love to dance, accept the fact that you may have a hard time finding a steady partner, but here's some advice that my teacher gave me..."dance because YOU love it, learn to practice by yourself, dance with everyone who asks you, and have the CONFIDENCE to ask anyone to dance with you". Such simple advice, but so true. Before too long you'll be a good dancer and you'll have the respect of other dancers and people won't be looking at what you look like, they'll be looking to see how well you dance. Hope this helps!
Location: New York, NY USA
Thanks for all the responses! I don't mind dancing with someone of another race. Like Toni, I was curious about the reasons why we don't see many Blacks or Latinos in the amateur circuit and we don't see any on the pro circuit. Are they not competing at all? Do they never make it to the finals? could the expense of Dancesport be a factor?
To some extent I agree with David. Some people may be intimidated and give up. I was rejected by Asian dancers who wouldn't dance with me because they "only do International" or told me to "come back when you know more when I made mistakes." However, I was totally captivated by dancing and I resorted to asking people to dance with me. I improved and now those snooty people have to take a number to dance with me! Anyone who loves dancing enough to want to compete isn't going to be intimidated by these types.
I have also received encouragement from various instructors to continue developing my skills. I have also discussed this subject with vendors at the comps. There needs to be some focus on products specific to the African-American competitor. They sell Pro-tan but there are no cosmetics or fishnets suitable for the darker skin tones of African-Americans. This may not be profitable for them now, but as the number of Blacks in ballroom increases, they could reap the benefits.
Finally, I feel that, despite the expense, more African-Americans would be encouraged to participate if they could see more African-Americans participating. Since I'm competing as an amateur, I can't be paid to dance yet. However, I'm interested in doing volunteer work in schools (lessons or shows) to expose minority children to ballroom dancing. I also think that if the general public had more exposure to ballroom competitions we could encourage sponsorships for minority participants. What do you think?
Yvonne, the highest ranked standard US amateur who is african american is without a partner at present. His name is Michael Phillip and he is very good. He was competing with a white partner in adult standard. He is quite a bit older than his fellow competitors yet he was able to hold his own, getting into the finals often. It won't hurt to try to offer ballroom instruction in your locale, we can always use more good dancers. Asian dancers tend to be too technical in their dancing, so they have no training or natural ability when it comes to social dancing. Western music is not their thing, with the exception of the undanceable type.
Ronnie, it is true there are few male dancers compared to ladies. This is for the same reason that there are few african americans. They are intimidated by the dance studios. They are embarrased to let anyone see that they are unable to do something that looks so easy. The man has many things to do when it comes to dancing. He has to keep time, maneuver, and string various steps together and lead all of this without appearing to be shoving and bullying the lady around. It is difficult to master all of this as one must practice all of it at the same time. It can't be broken apart and practiced in pieces. I know several men who have taken lessons for years, yet they can't muster enough nerve to get out on a crowded floor and use what they have learned. They avoid socials like the plague.
Location: New York, NY USA
I'm curious about your last statement--that you're taking a break because of racial issues. Please elaborate. e-mail me at email@example.com
I am one Asian male dancer who does not "only do international".
I completed a bronze program in social dance a year ago.
When I joined the dance studio 3 years ago,
I didn't see another Asian student till months later.
In the beginning, like Yvonne, I was also rejected by senior dance students
during group practices because I had a hard time coordinating
the many dance elements all at once.
Rejection is never easy to take
and of course I was not happy about it.
I didn't take the rejection as a rejection by the "white" dancers,
or Italian dancers, or Russian dancers.
I took it as rejection by more advanced dancers
and I could understand their reasons.
They themselves wanted to practice advanced steps and had fun too.
With me, they could only do box steps most of the times, at least at that time.
Towards the end of my bronze program,
when I danced with the entry level dancers,
I had the same feelings too.
Although I tried to accomodate as many entry level dancers as possible,
I would sometimes save a few dances for the fellow dancers
of similar level, so that I could also practice my newly acquired moves.
As for the dancers who told you to "come back after you know more"
when you made mistake, they were rude, no doubt,
but I also hope that you don't fall into the trap
of race or ethnic-based generalization in your views.
Comment from David:
Does it have something to do with the type of dance program ?
Comment from David:
The comment "with the exception of the danceable type"
The comment "Western music is not their thing"
There was an enthusiastic discussion of salsa break on 1 or 2
Yvonne, like you I don't care about the race of my partner. I LOVE TO DANCE!! I have not seriously looked for a steady dance partner, however, I have mention it to my dance instructor in the event he meets someone I migth be compatible.
Like Samara I have not met anyone yet, who has not been supportive and friendly.
I recall the times like, Mant when I was rejected by higher level dancers. This was a problem for me, because I am a shy person. When I was a student at a studio, the only skilled level male that would dance with me was my instructor. That is the reason why I never turn down someone if they ask me to dance for the first time. While he is guiding me through the box step, rock step, fifth postion break, I try to practice my techique of foot position, body control and alignment.
I plan to continue dancing and making others aware of this wonderful Sport.
Feel free to keep in touch...Toni227802@aol.com
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