The Waratah State Championships

Categories: DanceState

The need to belong marks us as human and it is such connections that lead to fulfillment. After studying belonging, to what extent do you agree with this statement? It is imperative that each and everyone one of us experience the joy and sense of fulfillment that arises from the sense of belonging. It is through the connections with various people and groups that self-fulfillment can be achieved in life. However, our need to belong can also force us to compromise our own values in order to adhere to expected codes of behavior, so what do we as humans do?

These issues of the search for our identity and belonging are poignantly explored in Baz Llurhmann’s film ‘Strictly Ballroom’ as well as the novel ‘The catcher in the Rye’ by David Salinger and the picture book by Shaun Tan , ‘The red tree’.

It is necessary to explore and express our individuality before we can belong in a meaningful way. The idea of a journey of self- discovery and belonging is portrayed through varying ways in the film ‘Strictly Ballroom’ and the novel ‘The catcher in the Rye’.

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Baz Luhrmann’s characters reflect a working class culture in which the mundane nature of ‘real’ life is transformed into an obsessive desire to be part of a glamorous world in which the individual has the opportunity to take Centre stage. The performance given by Scott in the Southern District Waratah State Championships expresses Scotts desire to belong by challenging himself as an individual to authority.

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Baz Lhurmann represents the concept of belonging using a variety of techniques to distinguish between the world of artifice and the more realistic world.

The opening of the red curtains which slowly appears as a fade-in presents a silhouette of the ballroom world, which is a metaphor used to set the criteria of belonging as the red curtain is symbolic to the world of dance as part of a fantasy and as a red curtain trilogy. As the scene commences, the tracking slow motion camera speed where Scott breaks away improvising non-federation steps at the Waratah State Championships accentuates the movement and freedom Scott demands.

The open framing here, as Scott dances out of frame coveys the sense of anarchy through juxtaposition with the closed framing of the ballroom dancers as they are gliding to the famous waltz ‘the Blue Danube’ immediately before Scott dances to the ‘samba’. The camera swipes pure colour across the scene as it fights to keep pace with Scott. Costuming of the other ballroom dancers is used to symbolize their belonging and sense of solidarity as the men are dressed in identical suits –a uniform- and the women are dressed in similar, although different colored gowns of great extravagance.

The yellow shimmering costume of Scott in this scene reflects his individuality and the speed of his expressive movements that creates an effect in which the audience is able to detect Scotts ipseity (individualism, identity). Subsequently, the ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by Jerome David Salinger takes on a rather different approach on the journey to self- discovery. Many events from Salinger’s historical context as well as social context influence his writings and his perceptions of society. In the novel, autobiographical details are transplanted into a post-World War II setting.

The ‘Catcher in the Rye’ was published at a time when the burgeoning American economy entrenched social rules served as a code of conformity for the younger generation. As David Salinger used slang and profanity in his text and discussed adolescence in a complex and open way, it influenced the protagonists struggle to self-discovery in the novel. Holden Caulfield, the main character in ‘the catcher in the Rye’ struggles through his own road to self- discovery. As a teenager, he struggles to deal with the experiences and perceptions of his life. The recurring motif throughout the story is the sense of loneliness.

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The Waratah State Championships. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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