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Becoming BeautifulBallroom Dance in the American Heartland$
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Joanna Bosse

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039010

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039010.001.0001

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Bringing Coherence to the Sensuous Life

Bringing Coherence to the Sensuous Life

Connection and Partnership among Social Dancers

(p.75) 3 Bringing Coherence to the Sensuous Life
Becoming Beautiful

Joanna Bosse

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the nature of partnership and connection in ballroom dance as well as the convention of leading and following. In particular, it explains how ballroom dance provides an opportunity to bring coherence to the sensuous life, a coherence that is tested by the contradictory expectations placed upon Regent dancers as middle-class, heterosexual men and women in twenty-first-century America. The chapter first describes how men and women relate to one another on and off the dance floor before discussing the “princess factor” in ballroom dance. It also considers the rhetorical and performative strategies used by dancers to reconfigure ballroom's conventional role in constructing gender and heterosexual normativity in movement and sound. It shows that dancers actively engage problematic and antiquated aspects of beauty and resignify them with contemporary sensibilities about equity and connection. It argues that performance enables dancers to create a discrete and singular, if not coherent, experience through which they wrestle with the incoherent, inconsistent reality of gender.

Keywords:   partnership, connection, ballroom dance, coherence, princess factor, gender, heterosexual normativity, beauty, equity

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