The most interesting things about social dancing are its relationship with the art form of music, and its role in the social development and community life of people.
In my work I study dance music in its cultural context and its relationship to the musical instrument: the instrument is as important to social dance as the dance is to art.
We dance in the street, and often we see the street dance performers not as an object of performance but rather as an element within the cultural context. They are performers with an interest and knowledge in the culture, its tradition, and its future. These performers are present to the audience both at the dance and during the performance. It is therefore important for the dancer and performer in the dance to have an understanding of the meaning, history, and identity of the musicians, performers and audience as a whole.
In the street dance, the community is not always able to make contact with each other. This lack of contact can happen in many ways, including being unable to meet in a public space, without being in a position where they can meet as a group. I can think of many occasions when I have danced in front of a crowd that they did not even know I was there – and then in their eyes they seemed to be totally lost to everything around them. This can happen from a lot of social interactions, but also as a result of physical contact: an injury, a fight, a dispute, a misunderstanding. Sometimes the interaction between the performer and audience can be difficult or stressful, and it is important that the dancer and the audience in a conversation or conflict knows who they are as people and to respect each other’s boundaries, even in a challenging situation.
What is the relationship between a social dancing performer and the crowd that he/she dances in front of? It is important to understand that performing in public is a way of experiencing a community, not just the individual performance. The performance also depends on relationships between other people. In particular in dance music the relationship between the performance, and the audience, is key to the relationship with music.
Are there similarities and differences between social dancing, music and music performance?
Many of the differences are more cultural. For example, in dance music the audience is not always the performers, but the background singers and instrumentalists, and the musicians are a way of representing the culture. In dance music the audience is the musicians, musicians are often the audience. In music performance the audience is the musicians, who often play an important role
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