Competitive ballroom dancing as a social phenomenon
: an anthropological approach

  • Gwendoline Nurse

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The following investigation develops a critique of Competitive Ballroom Dancing as a social phenomenon from an anthropological perspective and that of a non-dancer. In order to do this the thesis is concerned with interrelating dance with anthropology. The concepts of how people express themselves and communicate in society provide the study with the scope to explore certain issues.

    The first aspect shows how a person would prepare to be a dancer in competition, this involves, among other things, learning to dance, finding a suitable partner and the overall appearance of the dancer.

    Secondly looking at competition, which involves sport and dance, judgement and perception of how the dancers and spectators view it. The embodied content of the competitive dancer is seen as an important issue, since it can affect how the dancers dance and how the dance is perceived, despite the fact that competitive ballroom dancing is such a highly formal, structured and rule-governed form of dance.

    Ritual and performance theories integrating emic and etic tendencies are juxtaposed with what appears to happen in this form of dance. In addition various types of altered state of mind are examined, in view of comments made by dancers about how they feel when dancing.

    Furthermore this thesis explores an understanding of how important this form of dancing is to its participants and how the activity can be a life-long pursuit whether as a dancer or subsequently as a spectator. It also illustrates the extent to which younger people enjoy an activity where there is great emphasis on being fit and how they have come to link it with sport.
    Date of Award2007
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton

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