Why Learn Ballroom Dancing?

by Kinley McFadden on December 6, 2009

Some people attribute the resurgence of ballroom dancing to the ABC reality show, Dancing with the Stars, (which was based on the British television series, Strictly Come Dancing, and now has its format licensed in over 30 countries). Dancing with the Stars premiered in the United States the summer of 2005, and is now in its 9th season as of September 21, 2009. Perhaps the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, which premiered at the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is the culprit?  Mad Hot Ballroom, by director Marilyn Agrelo and writer/producer Amy Sewell brought us the endearing story of eleven-year-old public school kids in New York City who learn about ballroom dancing and themselves through a school ballroom dancing program. The film was bought by Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Classics has earned over $8.1 million, making it the United States’ ninth-highest-grossing documentary film. 

Others think ballroom dance fever started in October, 2004 with the release of movie, Shall We Dance, staring Richard Gere as John Clark, a disenchanted lawyer whose marriage is rejuvenated through dancing with the beautiful Paulina (played by Jennifer Lopez). The movie’s tagline, “Step out of the ordinary,” gives us just a hint of the magic that is unlocked in both John Clark and Paulina’s lives through the beauty of ballroom dancing.  Or did the ballroom dance phenomenon really take hold with Antonio Banderas bringing ballroom dancing to problem kids in New York City public schools as Pierre Dulaine in 2006′s Take the Lead (from New Line Cinema)?  If Antonio Banderas can encourage a group of troubled kids to get on the straight and narrow, could he have been the one to spark the ballroom dancing fire for the rest of the world as well?  Whenever and wherever the rebirth of ballroom took place, it is currently enjoyed by people around the world, both socially and competitively. 

Cindi Leive, the editor of Glamour magazine says, “It’s clearly fresh, fun and sexy to a new generation of women in love with dressing up and behaving in formal style.” Thomas Murdock, marketing chief of Arthur Murray Studios would certainly agree.  After the release of Shall We Dance, Murdock said, “Since the film, there has been a big increase in men wanting lessons.  Our students used to be 55 and older, with the majority women. Now many are men or couples in their 20s and 30s. Lopez and Gere increased interest in a younger audience.”

“Ballroom dancing is no longer just for old fuddy-duddies,” Brian McDonald, president of the National Dance Council of America says. “Young people like it because it’s different, artistic and has a great competitive attitude about it.” The viewers of Dancing with the Stars and its sister programs, (now in 30 countries), would likely concur.

Why the revival of ballroom and not the twist?  Yvette Campbell, director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater explains, [ballroom takes us] “back to a time where it’s very romantic and very inspiring to dance like that.”

Read To Learn Ballroom Dancing?


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