Ballroom dancing is as sensual as it is enjoyable. For years the world’s greatest romantics have known the best way to a Lady’s heart is to sweep her across the dance floor. Holding, touching and moving to the music is the most sensual skill people can add to their lives. Think of all the countless number of relationships that would have never started without the world’s best ice breaker “May I have this dance?”
First came the hit documentary that followed New York City school kids learning to fox-trot and tango. Then there was the wildly popular reality TV show that partners celebrities with professional ballroom dancers in a weekly elimination contest. And the latest buzz surrounded another televised dance-off aired on Fox, just as production on another dance-themed movie starring Antonio Banderas got under way in Toronto. Now it is official: Consider this the time of ballroom dancing.
As Howard Dashkin, a professional dance teacher, says, “People love to watch good dancing.”
Indeed, more than 15.1 million people tuned into ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” when it first aired That is the highest ratings for a then new summer series since CBS’s inaugural run of “Survivor” in 2000; for four weeks in a row, it was Nielsen’s No. 1-rated Wednesday show. And “Mad Hot Ballroom” was no slouch. The film earned almost $2.5 million at the U.S. box office in limited release and had subsequently expanded to many theaters.
Dashkin was moved to tears by “Mad Hot Ballroom’s” charm (think clumsy, streetwise fifth-graders smoothing out their tango moves as well as their rough-and-tough spirits), and he is hooked on the glittery, often over-the-top numbers performed on “Dancing With the Stars.” The allure of “Mad Hot Ballroom” is perhaps more obvious. The documentary trails students at three city schools as they learn a handful of ballroom dances during 10 weeks and prepare to compete in a citywide dance competition.
That ballroom fever is contagious hardly surprises Pierre Dulaine, the man who created the Dancing Classroom Program documented in the film. More than 7,000 students at 68 New York City public schools participate; the program’s 2005 competition was held in June. “People get inspired,” he says. “In today’s life people are playing GameBoys or watching TV,” and social graces may get left behind. Instructors in Dulaine’s program address their fourth- and fifth-grade pupils as “ladies and gentlemen” and teach them to escort their partners on and off the floor, make eye contact during the dance and say “thank you” at its conclusion. “These are transferable skills for life,” Dulaine says. “I really don’t care whether they remember the steps or not per se. But respecting their partner, being with their partner are important habits that do stay with them.”
Interest in ballroom dancing surged a few years ago after the release of “Shall We Dance?” starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. Arthur Murray, the country’s largest dance studio franchise and a sponsor of the “Dancing With the Stars” area of ABC’s Web site, reports business is up about 20 percent nationally. Safwat Gerges, owner of several New York City-area Arthur Murray locations, says boxer Evander Holyfield spent a few hours at his Manhattan studio to rehearse his “Dancing With the Stars” routine. Gerges says he was fielding more phone calls from people inquiring about lessons because they had been watching the show.
The sensual properties of dance are a secret that all good dancers enjoy. For men, being able to recognize which dance the band is playing and having the confidence in his ability to walk across the floor and ask a Lady to dance is a social prerequisite. For Ladies, they will always be in demand as a dance partner once they master the grace and poise, the styling and the all-important following skills.
People will go to all extremes to make themselves attractive to the opposite sex. Hours are spent in the gym and millions are spent on cosmetics and stylish clothing just to gain a slight advantage in the dating game. Unfortunately for these people, they will always have to take a back seat to a good dancer. The best way to be noticed, in a favorable light, is on the dance floor. At a minimum, it provides a chance for you to express your passions, propelling you into a more sensual mood, without moving into an R rating!
Fascinatingly enough, when surveyed, more women said they would prefer a night of dancing to flowers or chocolates .. *shrugs* .. who would have thunk it.