Civilized Dancing: The Evolution of Ballroom Dancing from African Trance and Folk Dance
In the year 1900, ballroom dancing consisted of mainly the Waltz, the Polka, and a few other folk dances that had lasted since the late seventeenth century. For over a century, the Waltz had been the favorite dance of ballroom dancers, who typically consisted of the upper class white society. Religious organizations were very much apposed to the Waltz and all ballroom dances, claiming that ballroom dancing was the work of the devil. At the beginning of the twentieth century, ballroom dancing began to change dramatically as Americans found themselves intrigued by other cultures, especially African trance and folk dancers in the Americas. Now, one century later, ballroom dancing consists of over thirteen dances that are highly defined and have many roots in the African culture.
In this thesis, I show that ballroom dancing has traditionally been a mostly white (and historically elite white) style of dance whose roots lie deep within the African slave trade and the traditions, rituals, and music that Africans brought with them across the Atlantic. Despite the historically white-dominated society in the Americas, ballroom dancing would not be what it is today had it not been for elements of African culture transcending racial lines and being incorporated into white culture. I hope to demonstrate that ballroom dancing was an exercise of taking many elements of African music and dance and blending them with the conservative mannerisms of the elite white class, thus creating what the latter would consider "civilized dancing."
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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Holden, Patsy, "Civilized Dancing: The Evolution of Ballroom Dancing from African Trance and Folk Dance" (2007). HIM 1990-2015. 644.