Ballroom Dancing is not for Sissies (An R-rated guide for partnership) by Elizabeth and Arthur Seagull is one of the best books on dance that I have read in a long time. The reason for it being such a good book is that it has a very unique perspective while still working within the established ballroom system. While it provides advice based on the level a couple is at (bronze, silver or gold) is does this from a perspective of psychology and relationships/partnerships. The authors themselves are psychologists who entered the dance world as adults and progressed to amateur competition. This means that they know what it is like for you learning dance and that they have that extra insight into the partnership of dance that comes with an understanding of psychology. You can see now why it’s unlikely to be like any book you have read on dance before.
What’s the intention of the book?
The basic intension of the book is to help you realise what challenge partner dancing can be and to equip you as best as possible to take on that challenge. While it does cover issues associated with physicality, most of the focus is on the psychology. And in that aspect it offers some original and very useful insight.
It was not until reading this book that I realised how confronting dance can be. As Elizabeth and Arthur point out in the book ‘Dancing assaults our defences.’ Dance is so intimate that it can reveal ‘leftovers’ from our development as it takes us back to an earlier stage of development. We might all have different leftovers, but confronting them is one of the key things that can make dance a challenge for an adult.
Understanding this was interesting enough for me, but Elizabeth and Arthur then go on demonstrate how you can handle this assault and become a better dancer by apply the three Rs (respect, responsibility and responsiveness) to our dance. As I read this I could think of many times when I could have seen a much greater improvement in my dance by applying the methods covered in this book. I also saw and better understood the behaviour of other people that I know through dance.
Along with explaining how you can be a better dancer with the three Rs they also introduce other concepts of dance that were new to me. Their explanation of the shared mind in partner dance was a real insight and an excellent way to explain why there is a lead and follow in dance. They also take time to explain the nature of leading and following from different perspectives and in light of modern changing values regarding sexuality and equality of the sexes.
What does it offer a dancer?
After reading this book, I now know what I can do to improve how I approach dancing for better learning. I am sure that you will to. It also helps you develop a better attitude toward your own dance, your partner, your teacher and others in your dance community. At the end of reading this book, you will feel that you are not only a better dance student, but that you are wiser about dance and learning it.
Is it easy to use?
I found this book very easy to read and understand. Not only that, but once you have read the first two chapters you can pretty much pick it up at any page and understand what is in there so that you can make use of it. Thus it is an excellent book to have as a reference for when you have a problem in dance that you’re not sure about how to tackle.
Would I recommend it?
I usually think that each book has a set audience, teachers, beginners, performers, competitors etc. However, while this book is aimed more at partners who compete, I would say that this is a book that should be in every dancer’s library. If you do not have a library yet, then this would be a pretty good start.
Where can it be bought?
I bought mine from Amazon (see the link below), but I am sure that most book shops could get it in. The ISBN is 978-1-4392-1050-5.
If you’re like me, and you have trouble giving people gift ideas, then this is an ideal one.