Line Dancing....A Legitimate Art Form?
by Max Perry

You bet it is! Line Dancing has stood the test of time and is now just coming into it's own as a recognized dance format. I know that it's already been around for years, but that's the test. A dance form must have been around for at least 10 years before it is included in dance curriculums. Fad dances will come and go, but if a dance or dance form generates enough interest and starts to evolve and develop, it is more of a sense of legitimacy. Who wants to start dancing or teaching something that is going to die off right away?

The components that we use in Line Dancing are the basic building blocks for all the other forms of social dancing. If anyone is going to learn to dance, the first step is to learn how to move, which means that you learn these components. It doesn't matter if you plan to dance with or without a partner, you still have to know this basic footwork.

The current state of Line Dancing (and notice that I don't say 'Country & Western' Line Dancing) is that it is no longer restricted to one form of music or another. Line Dancing has evolved past the point of being forced into a particular mold. Line Dancing is performed by individuals, groups, or 'Dance Teams' and is danced all over the world. There are competitions which feature all age categories and include teams and original choreography. There is now a 'contemporary' division that specifically allows for new attitudes in music and costuming (I urge all event directors to throw out that old archaic Country Music rule that none of you can define anyway!).

For Line Dancing to continue to grow and develop I think we need to discard a few old notions. One being that the feet are solely (no pun intended) responsible for portraying the dance. We are not dancing robots! The dance should be portrayed through the actions of the entire body, which includes hip action (Cuban motion), arm styling, facial expression , and any other movements that enhance the dance components. Dance instructors should be aware of these movements and teach dance technique rather than having your classes constantly mimic the basic construction of a dance. You need a combination of techniques when teaching. Listen to everything that the various dance organizations and groups have to say, then weigh the evidence and make up your own mind! Remember, that no one organization has all of the answers. There is always going to be different techniques and opinions to learn and you are going to constantly hear conflicting information, but there really isn't much "Right or Wrong". Learn all that you can, then do what feels right for you.

As a new art form, Line Dancing is still having those annoying little growing pains which will continue for at least another year or two, until communication gets to the point of more universal techniques, and the many new instructors and dancers out there get a little more experience under their belts.

Article copyright 1999, by Max Perry Productions. All rights reserved.

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