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Social Dance as My Self-Expression

Categories: DanceMy Self

I begin to move my body side to side with the music. No boundaries, restrictions, or rules to abide by when I’m dancing. I chose to dance because it’s a way of expressing myself through whatever movements I want. However, social dance was not always this causal. If we traveled back to a certain point in time we could find ourselves in France doing the waltz. On the island of Rarotonga among the Cook Islands, the men would be flapping their legs in and out while the women would be moving their hips side to side to the beat.

We could travel to North Africa to the country of Morocco where we would see woman embraced by clothing, revealing nothing to the general public except for their eyes. We would find the men partaking in dances that involved items such as rifles, daggers, and swords. The idea of women and men danced together would be lucrative. The styles and types of social dance depends upon a certain societies culture and values.

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Dance is in a perpetual motion of change and as we look back among the years, we will engage in the differences and similarities of social dance between Rarotonga, North Africa, and times of the Renaissance to the late 19th century. The island of Rarotonga of the cook islands in the south pacific takes their dancing seriously. The significance of dance on this island is that it reflects upon a persons identity, both men and women. There are four main types of social dance that are expressed throughout the island.

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The traditional type of Rarotongan dance involves highly trained teams of both men and women.

This is contrary to the Moroccan style of dancing. Within the Moroccan culture are laws that regulate the engagement of both men and women. According to the Koran, the men hold authority over the women. In regards to social dance, the women are unable to come in contact with the men stating, “Islam has insisted on a strict separation of men and women in many parts of the Muslim world. “(Jonas, 1992) This policy is the same for the people of Rarotonga however, the women of Islam fully clothe themselves only revealing the eyes within the general public.

The women of the south pacific, unlike Moroccan standards, have the ability to reveal their skin, wearing bikini like tops with grass skirts. Both cultures possess a type of warrior dance that is meant to express the athleticism of the men. The people of Rarotonga have what is called the Drum dance which was traditionally used for training exercises for warriors. The Moroccans dance to “emphasize athletic prowess and often employ warlike props such as swords, daggers, and rifles. ” (Jonas, 1992) Unlike the south pacific island of Rarotonga, men watch dances more then they actually dance themselves.

Within hotel nightclubs, or public rooms, the men group around and enjoy the women entertainers as they sing and dance. The men of Rarotonga typically dance by flapping their legs in and out whereas the men of morocco “undulate their shoulders and hips? combined with a sheer delight in rhythmic physical movement. ” (Jonas 1992) These two cultures possess common characteristics as well as eclectic differences, both of which could be comparable to social dancing in the west. The variety of dances in the west included dances such as branles or the pavan.

These type of dances were simple and took hardly any practice to master. These dances could be displayed in circles, lines, or columns. This is similar to the dance of Rarotonga where the dance is displayed in rows distinguished by gender. “The clothing of this era was bulky and the upper bodies were confined by tight lacing for men and corsets for women. Further, head movement was restricted by the wearing of ruffs around the neck. Dance technique, therefore, focused on footwork and was characterized by an emphatic energy.

” (Aldrich 1998) This demonstrates the differences in clothing between the renaissance era and the cultures from Rarotonga and Morocco. All three societies have distinguished clothing with no similarities in that aspect. The other category of dance from the renaissance required a sufficient amount of practice with services from a dance master. These type of choreographed dances were ideally meant for two people, “duets” but they could also be performed with up to eight people. The people of Rarotonga perform a team dance that is displayed toward an audience, extended family, community or paying tourists.

This is similar to the times of the renaissance where particular dances were performed in front of a viewing audience as well. “The one unbreakable rule of couple dancing is that the partners must move interdependently, as a unit. ” (Jonas 1992)This rule differs from the policies of Moroccan dance as well as dances of Rarotonga. The footwork of dancing during the times of the Renaissance was essential for success. “The extensive step vocabulary, which was designed for music in triple and duple meter, included walking steps, cutting steps, sliding and stamping of the feet, leaping and jumping, including tours en l’air, and hopping. ” (Aldrich 1998).

This proves how the Renaissance had an array of vocabulary towards different movements while dancing. This rigorous procedure to dance exceeded the policies to dance within the Moroccan culture as well as the people of the south pacific. The renaissance era was poised for having the most detailed, thorough, and strict procedures as to how to dance. Social dance has shown many faces over the years. The style of dance, the type of clothing we wear when dancing, the occasions in which we dance have all changed as time progresses.

For example, during the mid-century it was vital for the waltz to be simplified because less men found leisure in taking dance classes to perform these series of steps. The choreographed dances such as the waltz were able to be danced with no man or women to take the lead. To simply enjoy the art of dancing and expressing themselves freely. This can be said for all types of social dances throughout the world. The makeup of our culture correlates to what we dance to. Social dance has shed its light throughout the world, it is something that has made its place within society and will continue to change.

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Social Dance as My Self-Expression. (2017, Feb 21). Retrieved from

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