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An insider explores the transformation of ballroom dance into an Olympic sport.
Drawing on recent media portrayals and her own experience, author and dancer Caroline Joan S. Picart explores ballroom dancing and its more “sporty” equivalent, DanceSport, suggesting that they are reflective of larger social, political, and cultural tensions. The past several years have seen a resurgence in the popularity of ballroom dance as well as an increasing international anxiety over how and whether to transform ballroom into an Olympic sport. Writing as a participant-critic, Picart suggests that both are crucial sites where bodies are packaged as racialized, sexualized, nationalized, and classed objects. In addition, Picart argues, as the choreography, costuming, and genre of ballroom and DanceSport continue to evolve, these theatrical productions are aestheticized and constructed to encourage commercial appeal, using the narrative frame of the competitive melodrama to heighten audience interest.
“From Ballroom to DanceSport … will stand as a unique contribution, one that could not be written by anyone else at this point, and should be required reading for anyone interested in the burgeoning popular phenomenon of ballroom dance.” — Sport Literature Association
“…Picart has the lived experience of straddling a number of stereotypes concerning race, sexuality, nationality, class, and gender. This insider-outsider position serves well to open the boundaries of habit and regulation while Caroline dances through different worlds and views motion pictures that have ballroom dancing as a background and/or primary focus.” — Attitude
“I began this book with but a cursory understanding of ballroom dance and a strong understanding of things rhetorical; I ended it with a deep appreciation of the art of ballroom dancing and admiration for the author’s deployment of contemporary critical theory.” David Frank, University of Oregon
“This book on the politics, aesthetics, and cultural underpinnings of ballroom dancing and DanceSport is written by someone who participates in both, and this lends an immediacy and authority to the author. Picart is able to provide a very thoughtful and subtle analysis of how society positions itself on the transformation of an art form into a sport.” Adrian Del Caro, University of Colorado
“Exceptional, remarkable, unique, very well researched, and comprehensible! Picart’s book, From Ballroom to DanceSport, examines the increasing popularity of ballroom and cabaret dancing and the myriad of issues and forces involved internationally in the quest (and debate) for inclusion in the Olympics as dancesport. This book is a ‘must’ read for all students of dance, amateur and professional dancers, those involved in dance media, dance organizations, and all who enjoy social dancing.” — Jessie Lovano-Kerr, Florida State University
Caroline Joan S. Picart captured second place at the 2005 United States DanceSport Championships in the World Pro Am Cabaret Champion category, as well as second place at the Millennium National Pro Am Cabaret Championship. When not dancing, she is Associate Professor of English and Courtesy Associate Professor of Law at Florida State University, and is the author of many books, including Remaking the Frankenstein Myth on Film: Between Laughter and Horror, also published by SUNY Press, and Inside Notes from the Outside.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. The Contested Landscape of Ballroom Dance: Culture, Gender, Race, Class, and Nationality in Performance
2. Dancing through Different Worlds: An Autoethnography of the Interactive Body and Virtual Emotions in Ballroom Dance
3. Ballroom and the Movies
4. Paving the Road to the Olympics: Staging and Financing the Olympic Dream
5. Packaging Fantasy and Morality
6. Quo Vadis?
Appendix: Filmography of Selected DanceSport and Ballroom Films