SIZE DOES NOT MATTER, SKILL AND ATTITUDE DO
Dance Floor: Size does not matter, skill and attitude do
If a studio owner is telling you that his/her studio
has a dance floor of standard size, (s)he is exposing his/her
ignorance or is trying to mislead you. On the other hand, if a dancer
is complaining about a certain dance floor, the problem is likely his/hers,
not the dance floor itself!
In fact, there is no such thing as a standard floor size, as
far as we can tell. A search on the Internet shows that this is
in fact the case, that is,
there is no standard dance floor dimensions.
Photos of dance floors or of competition dance floors also
tend to give a fish-bowl effect, giving the impression that
the floor size is larger than it actually is.
This dance floor, as taken using a low-end camera, measures 30' by 33'. But it looks so much more spacious because of fishbowl effect. If a higher-end
camera with wide-angle lens is used, the effect is more dramatic.
A good, and especially trained, dancer should be able to negotiate
corners, navigate around or floor-craft a dance floor, as long as
it is of a reasonable size. Progressive dances such as smooth dances
would normally require more space than Latin dances.
In the case of performing, especially on a stage, organizers
cannot possibly "push" the walls back to "adjust" the stage space -
which is more often than not, a leased property -
to accommodate the
performers; quite the contrary, great or professional performers should
be able to study the stage space layout, adjust and floor-craft accordingly,
or improvise with whatever is provided. Otherwise, just turn down the offer
Floor-crafting - to fully utilize or to improvise the
performance space - is an art in itself and a major part of successful performances.
Size Does Not Matter
Only recently, in competitions, some governing bodies have started
to provide certain guidelines for organizers to conform.
These guidelines are put in place because of the scope of these
organizations (whose competitions are normally highly attended);
the expected number of couples in each heat is no less than 8.
Smaller scale competitions, where there are few competitors in each heat,
may not need so much space.
To be sanctioned by some of the more prestigious dance organizations,
for example, the minimum under USA Dance rules is 36' by 60'.
Floors for championship events are of a minimum of 42' by 66'.
Other dance federations will require in
Europe 16m x 26m; in China 15m x 23m; in USA 36' x 60'; and
in Canada 35' x 60'. [Note assemblable parquet floors come in
1m x 1m, or 3' x 3' squares].
Now that quite a number of international competitions
are being held in emerging countries. For example, Bayview Hotel in Batu Ferrighi, Penang, Malaysia, sanctioned by World Dance Organization (WDO).
In order to have a fairer competition, governing bodies set standard syllabuses
and minimum floor size so that sanctioned competitions are standardized!
Just to clarify a very misleading fact: all dances which follow
standardized syllabuses, standardized guidelines..., especially in
competitions, are "standard", just like SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)
is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States
to evaluate students from different parts of the world (which have
varied scoring systems).
Real properties are leased by the square footage (or square meterage).
The (unnecessary) space requirements understandably contribute to
economical unsustainability of many studios. And indirectly to the rise in
popularity of other dances, which require only reasonable space.
Indeed, we iterate the fact that good dancers should
be able to negotiate
corners, making a continuous circular/elliptical line of dance,
that is, no edges.
Instead of dancing along a long-edge and a short-edge [a rectangle] -
a concept which only constitutes to robotic dancing, or rote-dancing at best,
and which slights creativity - a dancer can dance along an endless line of dance!
The fact of the matter is that dancing is for enriching dancers' lives; Standardization is very much for competitions (just like examinations). An unfortunate consequence of all the "standardizations" is a production line
of dancers who cannot adapt to unstandardized environments! Which really
makes dancing completely devoid of fun, not to mention stifling creativity.
Dance Etiquette, Courtesy and Professionalism
In almost all cases, when a dancer shows up at a dance club, or at a
dance competition, the floor is for everyone to use, for the purpose
of that particular event. It is thus very important to exercise etiquette
and common courtesy.
In social or practice settings, everyone is sharing the floor.
Everyone is paying for the use and has equal privilege. Most dance
studios/clubs do play a variety of music and do suggest certain dance
for a particular song to minimize
reckless behaviors or injuries. If the music is not of a dancer's taste,
then the dancer is probably in the wrong place. For example, it would be
very inappropriate to go to a Salsa club and expect a smooth dance!
In competition setting, every competitor is competing on the same
floor, with the same advantage or disadvantage, and under the same
conditions. Unless ALL competitors complain, it is thus
unreasonable to complain about the dance floor when dancing less
ideally. In a fair competition, each competitor should, under the same conditions, dance to
the best of one's ability, and may the best dancer prevail!
In all situations, it is most inconsiderate to apply powder or wax to
dance shoes. Smeared powder or wax may create a hazard for other
It is also very rude to "bull-doze" around, especially down the line of dance. This is particularly true with those dancers who dance with a fixed
set of patterns to execute along the long-edge, and another fixed set of
patterns for the short-edge. A good dancers should be able to navigate around
other fellow dancer "obstacles", or modify dance patterns so that no one
bumps into each other.
It is a good idea to dress properly for each occasion.
Points to Ponder
The idea of governing bodies setting forth guidelines is not to make life difficult for competitors, but rather to make competitions more fair.
When competitors come from different parts of the world, with diverse cultural backgrounds, and varied training programs, a standardized guideline, syllabus...
is probably a solution (just like we still cannot eliminate standardized examinations even though it is a time-proven fact that examinations are not
the best way to evaluate and rank a person's intelligence).
Rather, it is the goal-setting, the time invested honing dance skills to improve dancing, the thrill of competing against some of the best in the world, and the joy of winning or celebrating with winning friends, that count.
A champion professional dancer, who also judged, once remarked, "By you having the courage to go onto the competition dance floor, you have already won, whether you eventually get placed first or not. Just give it your best and
have fun. If everybody wins, then no one wins; if nobody loses, then no one wins either..."
Indeed, a winner wins a particular competition under that particular condition,
environment, and situation. The most adaptable competitor prevails in a fair competition.
An analogy will make the point clearer. A "monopolistically" competitive dancer is like a professional golf player - the player is striving for a personal best to win the tournament. In contrast, an "oligopolistic"
competitor is like a professional tennis player whose action and reaction depend on where the opponent hits the ball to outplay the opponent.
Until such time as when they begin to have physical contacts between competitors, or dancers bull-dozing down the line of dance, dance competitions are monopolistically competitive.
We humans are, after all, social animals who love to have fun (or to have fun showing off!).
Indeed, we love to dance on floors that are relatively crowded; not one empty
dance floor. Governing bodies have the right idea to help judges do judging; but for fun, the more the merrier.
And never blame it on the dance floor if you have less fun - showing off or not - size does not matter; attitude and skill matter!
Hal Lim, "Dance Floor: Size does not matter, skill and attitude do",
BravoK, BDS201412-09, December 2014.
CARnHAL, at an international competition.
CARnHAL, at an international competition.
Hal of CARnHAL, enjoying dancing with some university teens and tweens
at an event in a foreign country, on carpet.