Term Paper: Gender &amp Sexuality Studies: "Dance

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¶ … GENDER & SEXUALITY STUDIES: "Dance, Gender & Sexuality"

Gender and expression in Tango and Hip Hop

Even with the fact that most people associate hip-hop and break-dance with stereotypes regarding thugs and outcasts in general, these two dance styles contain a great deal of sexuality and sensuality. These two dance styles actually have a lot in common with dances that are generally considered to be sexual in character, such as tango. Through understanding gender relationships and how they materialize on the dance floor during a hip-hop or during a break-dance performance, one is more likely to comprehend the complexity related to them. Cultural values are essential when considering how each individuals takes on his or her understanding of gender and it is thus essential for people to be provided with agendas that makes it easier for them to develop their sense of identity.

While hip-hop has provided a positive sexual environment throughout the recent decades, it would be irresponsible for someone to consider that it can actually teach society in regard to sexuality. This culture has had a tendency to desensitize the masses regarding the role of women in the social order and some might even be inclined to consider that it directly discriminates women. Most people consider that hip-hop is misogynistic and that it is one of the main reasons for which contemporary adolescents have a tendency to express less interest in respecting women.

There is a strong connection between the movements that one performs and his or her identity. Cultural values are reflected through the dances that a person performs and people are likely to observe that individuals belonging to some dance communities have a tendency to take things further by actually taking on attitudes that are associated with the respective dance communities (Leigh Foster 2).

Most people like to believe that it is wrong and even discriminatory for someone to associate particular dance styles with certain groups. However, many of these individuals are also likely to consider that it is essential for them to preserve their cultural values (with dance often being among one of the most important cultural values). Some dancers are apparently better prepared to take on particular dance styles, but it is difficult to determine whether they do so because they are historically connected with the respective culture or if it is simply identify with it.

While the masses consider that hip-hop is not as important as one might think, by simply looking at how many men and women today construct their gender around this culture, one is probable to acknowledge its power. Hip hop developed during the last decades of the twentieth century and it was primarily created as a result of the fact that African-Americans in underprivileged areas in the U.S. formed a united front with the purpose of criticizing social attitudes concerning their community. "Fighting to survive at the very margins of society, break-dancers, primarily male, choreographed black social protest and urban renewal during a time of accelerating class differentiation and the decimation of inner-city neighborhoods and resources" (Leigh Foster 13).

Hip-hop choreography was basically a response to the fact that people had access to poor-housing, low-paid jobs, and rising police brutality. By performing on street corners hip-hop artists demonstrated that they were directly contrasting white-dominated environments such as theatres. Their efforts materialized in a community that came to be united in an attempt to have society acknowledge its existence, its suffering, and its power (Leigh Foster 13).

The flow, layering, and rupture that one can observe in hip-hop choreographies are essential in explaining the music and the dance itself. These dances can relate to social dislocations and need to be understood from a cultural point-of-view. Even with the fact that most of the individuals who dance as hip-hop music plays are unable to understand the full complexity of the culture, the dance is likely to assist them in getting a better comprehension of hip-hop communities in the U.S. during the last decades of the twentieth century. "Let us imagine these hip hop principles as a blueprint for social resistance and affirmation: create sustaining narratives, accumulate them, layer, embellish, and transform them" (Leigh Foster 14). It is surprising and incredible for most people to imagine that a dance culture can have the power to inspire individuals and to talk to them in contexts involving social issues and attitudes.

Tango is generally associated with sexuality, but people are inclined to consider that male tango dancers have a feminine side and that this is one of the principal motives for which they express great interest in this culture. Many tango dancers and musicians in the contemporary society consider that it is not actually important for people learning about this particular dancing style to look at it from a historical and cultural perspective. Whereas hip-hop singers and dancers normally like to go back to their roots whenever they search for inspiration, tango dancers think differently. Even with this, it is actually curious that tango has preserved most of its traditional moves while hip-hop has experienced much change over the years. "Choreographed hip hop performed for a camera differs in many ways from close-knit dance-offs that took place in the early 1980s on New York's street corners" (LaBoskey 112).

With globalization having a severe influence over the world, individuals involved in tango in general have started to express more and more interest in adapting their dancing to other cultures and in developing styles that differ from those initially seen in Latin America. The fact that tango is generally probable to trigger intense feelings in anyone dancing it is very important in having dancers feel that they are not only dancing with their bodies, as they are also dancing with their minds.

Flamenco is likely to be one of the most intriguing aspects about tango when considering that it involves an environment where men dance while women are in charge of physical movement. "The very fact that a verbal activity has been staked out by men whereas women have specialized in non-verbal movement, should be enough in itself to raise concern about exaggerated gender dimorphism in flamenco: Does flamenco collude with patriarchy?" (Washabaugh 39). This dance actually brings on much confusion as one tries to determine whether it is more masculine to sing or whether it is more masculine to dance.

One might feel inclined to consider that men actually acknowledge the power of women by providing them with the opportunity to dance during a flamenco song. Men basically tame the ferocity of women as a consequence of this dance and make it possible for them to connect with audiences and singers as the dance progresses. The fact that the contemporary society holds a great deal of male flamenco dancers enables the masses to understand that the world has experienced much change and that gender no longer stands as a barrier between individuals and atypical performances. Unconventional flamenco is actually likely to trigger stronger feelings in audiences as a consequence of the passion with which the men put across their feelings, especially considering that they feel vulnerable in a position normally associated with women (Washabaugh 40).

To a certain degree, one can claim that flamenco singers take on a voyeuristic attitude as they watch women dance during their songs (Manning 154). By positioning women on a stage where they are exposed to the public and to the singers at the same time, flamenco singers practically reduce their role and indirectly influence the masses in thinking that it would be perfectly normal for society to promote environments where women dance simply in order to please audiences. Surely, this topic is divisive and it is especially difficult to determine whether Flamenco dancers are glorified or whether they are undermined.

Many individuals believe that changes experienced by hip hop and tango alike have destroyed these dances and that it is irresponsible for someone to put across unconventional thinking concerning the two. However, particular changes that these dances experienced proved to be beneficial for them and for the world as a whole, considering that they provided the masses with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what they are meant to express. While many choreographers failed to understand that their job was also that of expressing powerful emotions through their dances, some actually managed to comprehend the real role of dancing and got actively involved in communicating with audiences through their artwork.

The masses typically believe that strong emotions can only emerge as a result of traditional cultural values. More recent cultures such as hip hop managed to demonstrate otherwise by introducing new concepts and by aggressively entering the social order as a consequence of its lyrics and dancing. "Bronx teenagers found their voices through their bodies. They built up and perfected a large vocabulary of hip hop moves to communicate a wide variety of emotions and messages" (LaBoskey 112).

In contrast to tango, where both the male and female dancers have the opportunity to exercise their… [END OF PREVIEW]

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