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Richard Powers

Thoughts, philosophies and musings on social dance by Richard Powers, Stanford Dance Division Going out Dancing The Three Worlds of Ballroom Dance Social Dance to Succeed in a Competitive Marketplace Welcome Chance Intrusions! Use It or Lose It: Dancing Makes You Smarter The Worst Thing Is To Miss It Fred Astaire's advice for partner dancing Dancing and the Dream State Flexible Doesn't Mean Sloppy Conditional Learning - the power of uncertainty Transcendent Play The American Spirit of Creativity and Crossover How-To pages Some Tips for Teaching Dance Guidelines for Dance Research and Reconstruction Suggestions for Choreographing a Dance Bringing Dances to Life Onstage How to Be a Better Dance DJ

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National Contributor

The Tango Family Tree

The tango has been popular around the world for over a century. Therefore it has evolved into several different forms over the years. It may be helpful to understand how and why it changed. Over the past century, tango has branched out into three pri

Added to AccessDance National : Thursday, Sep 28 2017

Want to Succeed in a Competitive Marketplace?

Social dance develops the three skills that you need.

Added to AccessDance National : Thursday, Oct 27 2016

The Evolution of English Ballroom Dance Style

In England, partnered dancing is done in a wide variety of styles, both informal and formal, but the most visible and promoted form is what the English call "International Style" ballroom dance, which is based on competition ballroom (DanceSport) techniqu

Added to AccessDance National : Thursday, Oct 27 2016

Social Dances of the Nineteenth Century

Following the fall of the Ancien Regime in 1789, social dancing became more natural and egalitarian. Both clothing and dancing became less elaborate and restrictive as the rigid formalities of the Baroque ballroom eased.

Added to AccessDance National : Thursday, Oct 27 2016

The Three Worlds of Ballroom Dance

All three forms are valid, each enjoyed by their adherents for good reasons. But it's helpful to know how and why they differ from each other. As you'll see in the third section below, it's sometimes essential to know the differences.

Added to AccessDance National : Thursday, Oct 27 2016

Partnering Before and After the Vote

Closed-couple partner dancing began in the 19th century, when the essential ballroom mindset, in both Europe and America, was selfless generosity, with an emphasis on enhancing the pleasure of your dance partners and the assembled company. Another importa

Added to AccessDance National : Thursday, Oct 27 2016

Social versus Ballroom Dance

Overall I prefer to consider what social and ballroom dance have in common, rather than emphasizing the differences. The two share the same historical roots, the same basic step vocabulary and similar partnering dynamics. In the entire World of Dance, s

Added to AccessDance National : Thursday, Oct 27 2016

Welcome Chance Intrusions!

I once heard this theory: East Coast dancers focus on definitions and rules, categorizing then standardizing the categorization and West Coast dancers focus more on the way dance feels - the subjective experience of dancing. Is this theory true?

Added to AccessDance National : Tuesday, Dec 04 2012

Intelligent Dancing

There are many benefits of spontaneous freestyle social dancing. We can dance with partners who have not taken the same classes we have, it's playful, flexible and creative. But there's an additional benefit we don't often hear about: it makes us smarter

Added to AccessDance National : Tuesday, Dec 04 2012

Conditional vs. Absolute Learning : The Power of Uncertainty

How you're first presented a dance has a tremendous impact on how you later dance it, as well as how much you enjoy it. But the specifics of this may surprise you, perhaps being the opposite of what you might expect.

Added to AccessDance National : Tuesday, Dec 04 2012

Advice to Dancers by Fred Astaire

Above all, be yourself! Dancing should be a form of self-expression. Whatever else you may do, don't make the mistake of being an unimaginative copyist. Don't be a slave to steps or routines.

Added to AccessDance National : Tuesday, Dec 04 2012

Transcendent Play

Many of my points about partnering relate to dance as transcendent play. This is a term used by Diane Ackerman, who wrote a book on "Deep Play". She explores the concept of play from a variety of perspectives: how it is defined, what species participate

Added to AccessDance National : Tuesday, Dec 04 2012

The American Spirit of Creativity and Crossover

Americans have long emphasized creative personal expression in their dancing, along with the informal adaptation of steps from one dance into another, known as crossover. It seems that the prototypical American dancer is more intent on bending the rules

Added to AccessDance National : Tuesday, Dec 04 2012

Going Out Dancing ? Some Suggestions

How to have more fun; how to let your dance partners have more fun.

Added to AccessDance National : Tuesday, Dec 04 2012

Partnering Before and After the Vote

The essential quotations are at Great Partnering, but here are some more.

Added to AccessDance National : Tuesday, Dec 04 2012

Use It or Lose It: Dancing Makes You Smarter

For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise. More recently we've seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin level, wit

Added to AccessDance National : Monday, Dec 03 2012

Dance Partnering: Everyone Is Different

We celebrate the diversity of people, as a part of the beauty of being human. We come from different backgrounds and experiences, with different ages, genders and ethnicities. Interacting with the diversity of others enriches our lives. We learn and gr

Added to AccessDance National : Monday, Dec 03 2012

Dance Partnering: Great Partnering

Knowing many dance steps and figures is fun, but the true art of social dancing, and its greatest pleasures, lie in great partnering. As the swing tune goes, "It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it." The nonverbal lead-follow connection betwe

Added to AccessDance National : Monday, Dec 03 2012

Dance Partnering: Sketchy Guys

This is a touchy topic because we don't want to speak dismissively of anyone who loves to dance. However it's an important topic to many women who complain about "sketchy guys" at dances, so that makes it worth discussing.

Added to AccessDance National : Monday, Dec 03 2012 -Richard Powers