The History of Line Dancing Essay

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Line Dancing: Examining the Background and Traditions

Line dancing is a form of choreographed western dance in which participants line up in one or more straight lines, all facing the same way, and move in unison with the music. The dancers consistently repeat each movement as they carry it out. There is a lengthy history of line dancing, which has been attributed to various cultures. Depending on where they are from and what they are doing, different people give the dance different types of meaning. It has changed over time, acquiring new variations and designs. (Storey 22). This essay's goal is to examine the background and traditions of line dancing. It includes the religious, social, and philosophical expression of line dancing. It describes the historical evolution of the dance, highlighting the past, present, and future of the dance. The paper also discusses the effects of line dancing on the contemporary environment, especially in our increasingly globalized communities. Finally, the essay explains the alignment of line dancing from a personal social, intellectual, spiritual, and physical point of view.

Origins of Line Dancing

Line dancing is believed to originate from English country dance. The birth of line dancing is in the 1800’s around the same time when Europeans migrated to North America. With them, they brought diverse culture, especially art. This included music, dance, and other forms of performances. It makes most sources to believe that line dancing was a variety of English folk dancing. Line dancing is associated with country music. Initially, it was a dance for folk songs, but it later evolved to country and western music. The dance was influenced by contra dancing which was an American dance. It involved dancers in two straight lines performing the patterns in the entire length with different partners. The steps in contra dancing can still be recognized in the current line dancing.

Line Dancing Goes Global

“Achy Breaky Heart,” by Billy Ray Cyrus was the kind of music that set a new pace for line dancing in 1993. A spectacular line dance choreography was created for the country song, causing even other genres of music to start emulating the trend. Pop music also embraced the line dance art in the 60’s, making it as popular as never before in the industry (Brasell & Heke 17). Line dancing was then embraced globally, as many people came to learn of it, and most of them found it interesting to practice.

The Line Dance Format

The line dance format is a simple one and is done depending on preferences. Most movements are focused around the legs. However, with advancement, most choreographers have included the hands and the rest of the body. They include making steps that go hand in hand with the musical beat and make counts to mark the start and end of particular moves. For instance, a dance with 32 counts would have 32 beats (Storey 18). However, the song does not have to necessarily have 32 beats because some steps cover more than a single beat. The dance had cultural and artistic meaning attached to it. However, there was a minimal religious attachment to it because it was mostly for a secular entertainment purpose.

Line Dancing's Evolution

In the 1860’s, the traditional moves became assimilated to the western style by the country musicians. Most of them were residents of Texas who reflected their culture in the dance. There wasn’t a particular line dance choreography for all the songs. Instead, many variations were created for different country songs. The choreographers made them with the pace of each song, reflecting the mood and emotions of the song in the dance. Fast and musical songs had cheerful line dances who expressed the current mood. Also, slow country songs had much slower choreographers, where the dancers communicated the feelings too. At the time, locations like Texas, for instance, were characterized by many social activities (Brasell & Heke 29). Besides horse riding and bullfighting, they could also gather to play and listen to country music. Line dancing was the only dance associated with country music at the time, the reason why it became popular in areas that were fond of country music such as Oklahoma.

Line Dancing in the Modern Era

Line dancing is an informative social activity especially on the disco era of the 80’s. Disco line dances were assimilated to fit in different variations of the line dance. In the mid 90’s, the dance was also inspired by other genres of dance including the ballroom and contemporary dances. Certain choreographers such as Scott Blevins and Max Perry began using ballroom rhythms and styles to improve line dancing. This took it to another level because it attracted different kinds of music such as techno. People outside United developed interest, and by 1999 it had achieved a breakthrough in popularity and awards. By the year 2008, line dancing had been introduced in France and gained popularity in the whole of Europe especially by the introduction of Country music TV. The 21st century has embraced line dancing, not only as a form of social activity but also as a cultural practice (Michelson 3). Pop music has embraced line dancing, incorporating contemporary patterns which attempt to modernize the dance and fit the generational context. It has informed today’s society on the importance of embracing cultural diversity as a unifying factor. In the increasingly globalized communities, the entertainment industry has become a way in which we converge. It has also influenced all nature of partnerships between countries.

The Future of Line Dancing

The past of line dancing can be summarized as a form of culture. It is a unique way in which the western country music was identified. However, with time, it came to be associated with other countries and other genres of music. Line dancing today is considered a style for those who do not dance professionally and the singles. This is because it does not require a dancing partner like most contemporary dances do (Michelson 3). Also, the steps are simple and easy to memorize. It is currently taught as a fun activity in western dance bars, dance halls, and clubs. The cha-cha slide has also inspired today’s form of Latin cha-cha. Most high school dances today are not complete without a line dance performance regardless of the variation. It is also considered a memory dance in clubs and social gatherings because it reminds people of the 80’s and the old country songs. With the different variations of the dance currently, it is easy to predict that it is here to stay. The future of line dancing is likely to be characterized by more techniques and more popularity even in nationalities that have not embraced it yet. It is also easy to foresee a future where more genres of music will borrow rhythms and techniques from line dancing to fit their preferred kind of music.

The Impacts of Line Dancing

There are multiple impacts of line dancing, ranging from physical, social, and cultural effects. However, the physical effects of line dancing have been the most beneficial. We live in an era where clinical obesity is a problem to a significant number of people, especially in the United States. The most obvious solution to the problem is exercise, which most people fail to keep up with because it is not fun and consistency becomes a problem. Line dancing has been proved to improved physical function for those who have aerobic activity prescribed for them (Storey 26). Line dancing has also been recommended by clinicians as a form of therapy for patients with mobility problems. It improves both the cognitive control and motor ability. A few weeks of line dancing make a massive improvement in mobility.

Since line dancing incorporates both the physical body and the brain, it has been recommended as a recovery process for overweight patients undergoing depression. It is a double-action method that acts as a solution to both problems. Line dancing is also suggested as an alternative activity rehabilitation of behavior (Michelson 3). This is mostly for those recovering from substance abuse. It also has cultural effects since it acts as a unifying factor between Nationalities and an agent to embrace cultural diversity. Also, the fact that many genres of dance have borrowed a technique from line dancing means it has boosted the entertainment industry and encouraged creativity.

A Personal Alignment with Line Dancing

A personal alignment to line dancing is to appreciate the mileage it has moved individuals physically. People have found a new way to exercise while having fun. It is also an interesting social activity that brings people together, regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, nationality, or religion. It is also spiritually acceptable because line dancing does not portray any form of obscenity. It is, therefore, a dance to embrace and if possible learn and participate.

Works Cited

Brasell, Jill, and Adrian Heke. Line Dancing. Wellington, N.Z., Learning Media, 2000.

Michelson, Annette. "A World Embodied in the Dancing Line." October, vol 96, 2001, p. 3. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/779114.

Storey, Rita. Line Dancing And Other Folk Dances. London, Franklin Watts, 2008.

July 07, 2023

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