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Analysis of the Social Dance

Dance appreciation begins with looking at dance as an art, which typically relied on its preservation by being passed down through observation and oral traditions (Allison Cartegena, 2018). Social dances have influenced or been influenced by society, the way people dance is dependent on the time period and what is culturally acceptable to that particular group of people. (Kassing, N.D.) The social dances of focus for analysis are morris dances, flamenco, waltz, and tango. The Laban Movement Analysis will be the benchmark for how each social dance is evaluated and how they will be compared and contrasted. An aspect of dance that is important to convey is why does this dance matter, and also how did it affect the group of people directly or indirectly involved. Although social dances can break down barriers between different cultures, some have caused controversy and scandal by being subversive and suggestive.
Flamenco dance is a highly-expressive, Spanish dance form. The flamenco is an individual dance characterized by hand clapping, rhythmic footwork, and intricate hand, arm, and body movements (Bedinghaus, 2018). This social dance is a combination of dance steps “with the Andalusian folklore, folk songs, and instruments of Mozarabic origin. Instruments like tambourines, finger cymbals known as ‘Castanets’, and other tuneful musical instruments are also an integral part of the dance form” (“Fascinating Facts about Flamenco,” 2018). This richness makes flamenco an extremely passionate dance form, which touches the deepest of human emotions. Flamenco has more than 50 musical styles known as “palos,” classified on the basis of their rhythmic patterns, modes, geographic origin, chord progression, and the formation of stanzas (“Fasinating Facts about Flamenco,” 2018).
Watching flamenco is a mesmerizing experience, the video of the Spanish gypsy dancer (Il Vagabondo, 2012) performing in a small intimate venue showcased the powerful free flow and changes between sudden and sustained movement related to the tempo of the music. The female dancer wore a proper flamenco dressed named ‘Bata de Cola’ in an exquisite purple/pink lilac color with white polka dots, her facial gestures and hand motions are a defining, unique quality to flamenco dancing. The spotlight of flamenco is the stomping of the feet in a rhythmic matter, it is evident as the dancer is holding her dress to the side so the audience can view the rapid movement of her feet. (Il Vagabondo, 2012) The dancer uses axial movement with the viewers focus on the body shape of the dancer as a whole and looking at her wrists flicking in a sequential pattern as they move from her upper to lower body then quickly whip both arms out simultaneously. Incorporating space with direct pathways as she dances along the small floor space the focus of the dancer is mainly straight ahead with no eye contact with the audience, although at specific points the dancer’s focus will lash to her feet as she is pouncing out to the floor with heavy weight in terms of effort. Another example of flamenco dance is of the Youtube video filmed at “Flamenco Dance Show during dinner at El Palacio Andaluz, Seville, Spain” (Ling Daisly, 2011, Youtube), a professional concert performance with stage lighting and a larger music band. The use of small castanets by the female dancer adds an elegant layer of melody to her dancing. The change from active to passive weight in tandem with the live music helps to invoke emotion in the audience as well as keep them engaged in the performance. This video stood out to me because of the dancer’s use of her peripheral kinesphere by drawing out her arm and holding the position to the beat of the music was fantastic artistry.
“When the waltz first whirled through the ballrooms of Vienna, it caused an outrage and marked a decisive shift in European social customs,” (Del Hierro, 2017) what a surprising fact to learn because in the present day the waltz seems formal and only used in setting of grand display of provenance. Its name comes from walzen, “to turn” in German and may have developed out of the folk music of Austria’s simple village peasants. By the late 1700s the waltz spread throughout Europe, with the dance being particularly popular among young people from the wealthy middle classes, a sharp departure to the minuet dances of the time period where, dancers would be an arm width apart and had strict rigid choreography. (Del Hierro, 2017) The waltz is a smooth dance that travels counter clockwise around the dance floor with a ¾ music speed with some variations going quicker or slower. (, ND)
Concentrating on the origins of the waltz, the video of a group of people dancing in couples showcases the Viennese waltz which it can be clearly seen how up close the dancers are to each other. (Aaron1912, 2010) The waltz is a dance that has a lead and a follow, mainly male and female taking those roles respectively. The lead stands straight up with the back erect and their gaze looking away from the partner usually turning it the direction of movement. The follow holds onto the lead while leaning away and tilting the head to show submission to the lead. Elements of the shape of the waltz is best described as pin like movements with rising and falling motions. It can be seen that the waltz needs a large dance floor because of how long the strides are taken by the dancers, this is important to note due the distinct locations people had to go to in order to participate (ballrooms). The quality of the kinesphere is traverse because the arms of the dancers are held out but not fully extended therefore emphasizing the in between space. (Aaron 1912, 2010)
The origin of Morris dancing is not known, attempts to discover the origins of the dances suggests, is that they are of pagan origin performed as part of ancient fertility rites. The music and dances were perhaps intended to attract beneficial influences, while the bells, fluttering handkerchiefs, and clashing sticks served as the means to scare away malevolent spirits. (Cole, Britainnia, 2015) It survives today as a form of folk dance performed in the open air in villages in rural England by groups of specially chosen and trained men and women. (Cole, Britainnia, 2015) There are many types of morris dancing varying on the region of England that the dance is from, the general form is a group dance of people wearing bells around their calves, as well as holding a stick they are both used to interact with one another in the group. ([Videowl HD], 2013) The dance is done in simultaneous movement with galloping and hopping in direct and indirect pathways. There is usually a live band playing folk instruments, so the dancers can follow to the music.
Tango, the music and the dance, has a complex history, its development follows the social and economic growth of Argentina and Uruguay, in particular the area of Rio de la Plata and its triangle of Buenos Aires (Cecolli, 2013). Eloquently stated by Cecolli (2013) on the history of the tango, “Its roots seem to date back to the 1870’s when a version of it was danced by Black slaves to the fused rhythms of Habanera (Cuban) and Candombe (Afro-Uruguayan) music.” It was the dance of the poor, and marginalized, danced in the outskirts of the cities, and not accepted in upper classes. (Cecolli, 2013) They came from Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland and Greece, and settled in the edges of Buenos Aires. According to Cecolli (2013) tango was raw and sexual, as the connectedness of limbs representing the sexual encounter. With few women around tango dancing moved to brothels, where women choose clients by dancing with them, the male had three songs to prove himself worthy (Meier, 2015). Men had to dance with each other in order to refine their tango skills as it became a type of social currency. (Meizer, 2015) The music orchestra was based on the instruments; guitar, violin, harp and flute and the later incorporation of the piano and the Argentine bandonion (a symbol of tango). In tango there is a leader and a follow, roles that traditionally have been assigned to the man and the woman respectively (Cecolli, 2013). Although, tango was initially danced between men who alternated roles, so it really is about masculine and feminine energies in communication, no matter the actual gender of the dancers (Cecolli, 2013). Adding to that evidence, “This requires physical awareness and sensitivity, a subtle exchange of mutual understanding through the embrace that literally moves the center of balance from two separate individuals to one-the couple” (Cecolli, 2013), emphasizing the immense exchange that happens between both dancers.
The tango became a world-wide sensation in 1910 when wealthy sons of Argentina shared the dance form with Parisian elite who adamantly fell in love with it (Meier, 2015). Once that happened high class Argentines accepted the tango and it became accepted (Meier, 2015). Attire worn by female dancers were long skirts with slits, that may have had fringe on the bottom and the iconic nylon stockings with high heels that had two straps, one around the ankle and the other down the top of the foot (Meier, 2015). It is customary to wear a flower in the hair if it is a special occasion or show. Male dancers wear silk dress shirts and cuff-less trousers, so the female’s heel will not get caught in the cuff, and dress shoes (Meier, 2015). Imagery of tango dancing that is common to the public, is the woman fallen over with the man holding her tightly, this has multiple meanings such as, that the woman is suddenly in “fallen in love” with the male due to the connection shared, that the woman has been killed by revenge (“she has fallen”) because the male had unrequited love by the female choosing another man over him ([Geobeats], 2011), and lastly for the female brothel worker as her position is society as a “fallen woman” (Meier, 2015).
Argentine tango can be stylized by either an open or closed embrace with the dancers’ chests being closer together than their hips. There are three steps that develop, the lead initiates the dance to begin, the follow takes a step backward, while the lead steps forward. This is evident in the YouTube video of street Argentine tango uploaded by Olivier Frelastre. The movement of the feet of the dancers’ is a brushing of the floor with their feet as one leg passes the other in a counter-clock wise fashion (Meier, 2015). In the video (Frelastre, 2014), the free flow and sustained movement captivates the audience, and held up pin shapes to a gliding dip that changed briefly a wall shape form, makes the dance entertaining to watch.
The power of social dance in history and society cannot be more apparent as they are constantly influencing one another. Each social dance detailed so far has a key similarity that they all are the most authentic when live music is played as the dancers perform. The tango and waltz have the similarity because both dances require a partner, and the way the dancers stand in a close embrace is also the same. As for morris dance and flamenco, they differ from the waltz and tango by one being a group dance and the other a single person dance. A striking similarity between the tango and flamenco is that the origins of the dances are credited to marginalized and impoverished people. Dances across history have caused controversy because the upper class viewed the dance as vulgar and unrefined this is true for the waltz, tango and flamenco, these dances were slowly accepted over time as more people were exposed to it which meant the elite would dance it. A difference between flamenco and tango, is flamenco uses intricate feet stomping variations that change with the music tempo and tango motions of the feet are sustained and utilize a dragging and brushing motion across the floor that also are changing with the timing of the music. The way waltz and morris dance can be compared is that the effort is direct movement with galloping and hopping motions, both dances emulate a feeling of cheerfulness.
The social dances analyzed, the waltz, the tango, flamenco and morris dances have all contributed to society today as they are all remembered to varying degrees. The dances have been informative to the time period each pertains to. The dances provide insight how people viewed the dance and therefor social norms, what was ok to do in public and what viewed as subversive. Reflecting on how society views dance today and many of these dances are not seen in the same bias, it begs the question, what social dance(s) do we in the present day accept and disapprove of.
Reference Page
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Cole, S. (3 January, 2015) Morris Dancing. Retrieved from
Daisly, L. (9 November, 2011). Flamenco dance, Seville, Spain [Video file]. Retrieved from (16 February, 2018). Fascinating facts about flamenco dancing you were not aware of. Retrieved from, (n.d.) Waltz dance history. Retrieved from
el Hierro, M. (20 December, 2017). The elegant waltz was once Vienna’s forbidden dance. Retrieved from
Frelastre, O. (8 June, 2014). Argentina-Buenos Aires-street Argentine tango. [Video file]. Retrieved from
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Ilvagabondo, (15 May, 2012). Flamenco dance by Spanish gypsies part 1. [Video file]. Retrieved from
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Using Art to Challenge Racial Stereotypes and Racial Injustices

Race represents a unique but tricky thing. Something that is commonly recognized but and rarely looked over. It is something that divides us and something that never seems to change. Many think that the identification of race is something easy to point out, that you can just say because he is dark brown that he is African but in fact he may not be. The face of race varies as time goes on. Many think that race is only defined by the color of the skin and their physical uniqueness. However, there is more to race than skin color and other physical features. Race is defined in sociology as a social construction.
In fact, race is not defined by some scientific facts but by the social meanings people ascribe to. Art represents one of the ways in which artists from various races represent themselves as well as their racial domination. In a hasty fashion, artists can have an ability to challenge racial stereotypes and strive for racial justice. Although there are artists worldwide who are much focused on using art to challenge the common stereotypes we still face today. For example, an American artist, Ayana Jackson has been using her artworks to challenge stereotypes of white women permeated by the white gaze.
As previously stated by Jackson Ayana in one of her latest photographs she still tends to use still imaging. As one of the tools when dealing with the broken relationship between African American women and art. The history of art lies within the heart of in racial differences. Despite being one the largest scale stereotyping that art has engaged in, artists can use the same art to challenge stereotypical art. The paper presented to you is dedicated to investigating how different racial groups represent themselves and how they portray others through art. Second, the paper is going to discuss how artists can use their work and uniquely gifted talent to challenge racial differences and reach for racial justice.
Race is a topic which elicits a lot of different emotional opinions from different people. From a racial formation perspective. Race can be both socially and culturally defined depending on how you look at it. Those who make attempts to understand race primarily seek to do so in terms of these analytical dimensions. Race is understood by other people as a set of complex and overlapping ideas. United States racial history represents one of the most painful pasts. Different people have been attempting to use different means to try and negotiate this painful past.
While race is socially constructed, it is partially seen in qualities that easily manifest on the body as physical features. The invisibility of race has in the past been translated into systemic racial injustice. The invisibility of race give others powers beyond measures. The present section is dedicated towards investigating the theories that best describe the origin of these racial stereotypes in art and others whose approach can be used to promote racial justice.
The Marxist Theory of Cultural Hegemony conceptualizes that the ruling class can manipulate the mores of society and value system, so that their views become the world view. In art, this theory may be applied to demonstrate how the artists and artworks from mainstream races win consent to their rule from those they subjugate. Counter-hegemonic orders and practices attempt to challenge the existing hegemonic order and introduce another one. In art, the hegemonic order that has existed for the longest, is the one that is elevates artworks that racially stereotype other races. Which is then used to diminish those that attempt to bring harmony between different races. Like in politics, art is subject to the hegemonic struggle of universalization. In the art field, the fight is settled in favor of this or that version of art. With a division of culture the struggle continues.
The Critical Race Theory was coined in the 1960s during the era of Civil Rights movements and 1970s during the era of Critical Legal Studies movements. The Critical Race Theory conceptualizes that law reproduces and promotes racism. There are certain characteristics that define the Critical Race Theory, including the centrality of race and commitment to social justice. The CRT provides people with a model to challenge historical and institutional racism and inequality that persist today (Sleeter 2017).
Racial inequalities have triggered disparities in outcomes for certain racial groups, including Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans among other racial groups. In the U.S. Central to different fields, including art, is the use of deficit based rhetoric and ideologies that continue to propagate stereotypes of inferiority of certain races (McCloud 2016). Such ideologies are continually being used to create a hegemonic system that continues to perpetuate the stereotypes of certain racial groups.
The CRT can help one to examine racism, racial stereotypes, racial domination, and deficit ideology. This theory recognizes racism as something that the society uses to allocate itself status and privileges. In history, some artists have always used racist art to diminish other races by stereotyping them. In addition, they elevate their own races as superior to others they attempt to diminish. According to McCloud (2016), there are three central beliefs that are held by the mainstream culture that CRT strives to challenge, including the beliefs that blindness to race can help end racism, racism is practiced by individuals, but not systems, and that racism can be challenged without paying attention to different forms of injustice, such as exploitation, homophobia, and sexism.
Racial identity of an artist has been central in promoting racial stereotypes and racial injustice. Today, artists from minority races do not just sit back and watch; rather, they resist the ways artists from mainstream races often satirize and mythologize their races. In like fashion, they create counter images. “Most of artworks” by black artists are a depiction of how black people visualize themselves, their culture, and their people.
Art is one of the most powerful tools of representation and communication. It has been used to communicate messages that people would fear communicating using speeches. Art is appreciated by large audiences around the world. According to Lewis and Lewis (2017), more than eight million people visit Louvre Museum in Paris each year, making this museum the most visited museum in the world. The museum is estimated to generate approximately $1 billion in annual revenue for France.
It is estimated that many of these visitors visit the museum to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Outside the room where Mona Lisa is placed, many stand awaiting their chance at the work of art. This represents the power of art. Art gives visual expression to inner belief and has the ability to communicate important messages to people.
Racial identity of an artist has been central in promoting racial stereotypes because it affects how most artists produce their artworks and how it is viewed in the eyes of other people. Artists have been known to include an aspect of racial discrimination in their work.
Art History often faces a challenge as it tries to define and highlight ‘good art’ to the audiences. However, categorization often ignores ‘good art’ – art that can be used to challenge racial stereotypes and strive to ensure racial justice. Those who categorize artists and artworks have been found to do it in a way that only serves to encourage racial stereotypes and racial injustice.
In history, artworks by people from racial groups which are considered superior have always been elevated while those made by people from racial groups which are considered inferior have always been diminished. For example, before and after the American Civil War, African Americans were referred in mainstream visual culture as caricatures (Ayorinde 2014). This was an attempt by the mainstream racial group to define what it did not understand, and to avoid elevating the status of African Americans. Artworks from the mainstream race usually relegated African Americans to subservient roles, including the roles of servants, caretaker, cook, and entertainer.
From the mid- to late nineteenth century, artworks stereotypes and caricatured African Americans – these artworks connected black African American culture and other black cultures to slavery. For example, an artwork by Frederick Burr Oppers showed caricatures of black people in various costumes being given melons. Such a high degree of cultural stereotypes prevented African Americans and other black people from acknowledging their heritage and racial identity in their artwork.
Even today, black artists have been experiencing great opposition and resistance in their attempts to promote their work. In his study, Wainwrights (2013) observes that many black artists have previously made attempts to amass a history of art for the black people using art-historical studies and art exhibitions.
Their intentions are seen to conflict with what the author describes as the “Americocentrism” that ensues from the representations that have been previously given to black art and artists. The author further observes that political and social priorities which are focused on the U.S. have become normative in the treatment of minority races’ culture.
According to Dumas and Dunbar (2016), an industry has been emerging – an industry that is attempting to identify and develop the next generation of creative people. Art is one of the industries that require those practicing it to be highly creative.. The authors show that the way in which people promote stereotypes of creativity has the ability to decrease peoples’ creative performance. They refer to this phenomenon as the Creative Stereotype Effect.
The power of art is so strong that it has been used in the past to communicate what words have failed to communicate. The art world has been undergoing a slow reckoning with racism. There have been protests against artworks that seemed to embrace racism. Artworks have the power to wound people because it is still alive and dangerous. Racism is perpetrated by many people, including the media personnel, politicians, lawyers, judges, economists, and artists. As long as people will continue embracing these ideas, artworks will continue feeding into hateful or ignorant stereotypes about them. Artists should take note and seek to change the way artworks are made and conceptualized. As Mouffe (2014) conceptualized, every order is subject to challenge by another counter-hegemonic order. The Critical Race Theory is one of the most effective theories and can be used as a framework to challenge these stereotypes.
Social Movement Art
Art plays a very critical role of transformation when practiced in social movements. When art is practiced it functions as a cultural form and transforms society in numerous ways. Some functions include encouraging social change, empowering and deepening commitment, informing larger society about current social issues, harmonizing social activists within the movement it is practiced, setting a new emotional tone, and critiquing ideologies. Social mobilization represents one of the means by which social change is achieved. In his study, Cossu (2018) investigates how artists contribute in reshaping and reinforcing the roles and organization of social movements. Social movements in the U.S. were partially started to protest against criminalization and racial discrimination of black people in the country. The African American male represents one of the most criminalized people in the country. Not just for the color of his skin but for the physical features he portrays. Whether it is his roundness of his nose, the fullness of his lips, the way he carries himself down the street, or the hair that grows on his head.
One of the ways in which social movements were used was to challenge racial stereotypes assigned to Black males. According to Smiley and Fakunle (2016), The criminalization of unarmed Black men is not a new phenomenon in the U.S. Research studies and historical descriptions have accounted how racial ideologies and stereotypes have led to the creation of discriminatory policies that only serve to fuel racial violence. But did we need researchers to tell us that racism still exist today when little black and brown kids cannot even attempt to sell lemonade from a stand without a permit. Racial art represents one of the things that serve to fuel racial stereotypes and racial violence. Non-black artists use blackface as a form of theatrical make-up.
This practice has origin in the 19th century and significantly contributed to the spread of racial stereotypes. In the 20th century, blackface became so popularized that it branched from other forms of art and became an art form in its own right. The stereotypical presentations portray black men as naturally savage, destructive, animalistic, and criminal who are deserving of being punished. He is portrayed as a antisocial menace and a sociopath. Black men are portrayed in certain art as hideous, terrifying predators who target helpless victims, particularly white women. These racial stereotypes are highly communicated by and through artworks. We see it in plays, skits, and much more. Although social movement have made great strides in using art to challenge these stereotypes, the practices still persist requiring greater efforts.
Such criminalization of black males represents one of the factors that led to the rise of social movements. These social movements were developed to speak against this racial criminalization and many other forms of discrimination against black people. These stereotypes sometimes led to the death of black people through lynching by their white townsmen. Art can eventually change the minds of like people around just by portraying images with positive outlooks. Art, being one of the disciplines that promoted these racial stereotypes, is one that can help reverse this situation.
Numerous research have demonstrated, that art has an ability to reverse this situation. It is important for art to challenge the common perception that people from minority races can only be communicated to if certain aspects are distorted in a stereotypic way so as to make them more understandable to minorities. Not only is this distortion done in art but also in other forms of media. In his study, Bloom Quist’s (2015) investigated how the tendency to distort African American English as a historical artifact has taken root in the entertainment industry. Such distortion is only meant to reinforce the stereotypes assigned to Black people. Today we see how many music videos praise such stereotypes that our ancestors fought hard against.
For example, Madea places the new generation “Mammie” and women in videos have to be half naked to even be considered beautiful. Such ethnic stereotypes only serve as a reflection of mainstream races’ attitudes regarding Black people. Stereotypes and depictions only serve to provide non-Black people with a perception of Blackness that is founded in accuracies. These stereotypes are always portrayed as authentic. Since these stereotypes have come to be widely accepted, Black peoples’ lives continually remain open to continual mimicry (Bloom Quist 2015).
Art plays a very critical role of transformation when practiced in social movements. When art is practiced it functions as a cultural form and transforms society in numerous ways. Some functions include encouraging social change, empowering and deepening commitment. These stereotypes are rampant in art products, with some hidden deeply within these artworks. In most cases these stereotypes are only meant to present black people as inferior to other mainstream races.
These stereotypes only serve to diminish people to which these stereotypes are directed to. In their study, Dumas