Is ballet a social dance? – Social Dance Essay

Or are the dancers socialized by their mothers and fathers? Were they born to act on stage? Or were they socialized at school?

Socializing is, to be sure, important, but the question is one of how much socialization is essential and how much is incidental. Is it necessary to have ballet lessons? Yes, if you are very much into it. Is it essential? Very much not. A dancer should be aware of the social world around her. But what sort of dance world?

We can distinguish between two possible situations: (1) dancing with a good group of dancers and (2) dancing without one. In the first kind of dancing, it is clear that, for the social purposes in which such dances are designed, dance can be considered a special social activity. It should be learned (in school); it should serve (or serve not serve): the social goals of the dance group. However, the dance has no clear social purpose apart from the social goals it serves (or serves not serve). Its social purpose is to be entertaining, not to be social. (2) is another case. It is obvious to anyone that, for the social purposes in which such dances are designed, the performance does serve a purpose (or serves not serve). The performance has social purpose, whether it is entertaining (in school, social functions, etc.) or not entertaining (in private dance, bar, etc.). When you perform in a social group, you give pleasure to some people. Your work is important and necessary, but it is a means to something deeper. It cannot serve no other purpose than to take part in an activity that is important for your purpose. This is to be understood in terms of the nature of the activity. The activities of a social group can be broadly grouped under the four broad headings of art, science, commerce, and leisure. Some of the activities are social; some are not. This article would not cover all of them in detail; to do so would amount to little more than listing each social activity with brief comments.

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Art is not just entertainment. It is more like a science: it requires careful attention to the details of its performance, to its audience, to the way it is carried on. It is a great deal harder than dance or music to be entertaining without being socially important. To perform art is to perform with others. To be entertaining to others, without being a social entertainer (even perhaps a professional entertainer), is a difficult

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