What's so fascinating about the floor?

Andrew Smith

Message 30691 · 1 May 2002 07:10:34 · Variable-width font · Whole thread

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Richard has probably hit the nail on the head - I had not thought about
"personal space" coming in to it. I remember coming across some research
which showed how different cultures have different "personal space"
dimensions, but also how even from the same culture rural members will have
a larger "personal space" than urban, where of necessity it has had to
become compressed.
In my teens I remember going to a dance in a very remote rural part of
Scotland and was amazed to see that the men all lined up on one side of the
hall with the women on the other. When a dance was announced the two lines
advanced to the middle of the floor with some shimmying about, and lo! there
were the sets. At the end everyone about-turned and left for their own sides
again. I never did work out how it worked, being too young to be aware of
all the social nuances.
Those who know each other well can be comfortable with eye contact, and
smiling, because their personal space is not being invaded by a stranger.
Hence the dem team/in crowd response. The highland dancer very often is
there secure in his/her personal space, and the smile is part of the
performance - unless it is a high-speed fling, of course.
Andrew,
Bristol, UK.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Goss" <xxx009x3@xxxxxxx.xxx>
To: <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx>
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 1:25 AM
Subject: Re: Re: What's so fascinating about the floor?

> In the 70s, when I was doing video for the School of Scottish Studies in
Edinburgh, I was surprised, comming from an RSCDS tradition to find that, in
the toothy sense, Scottish dancers often not only did not smile, but seldom
made eye contact.
>
> In analyzing the populations between those who did and those who did'nt, I
found that those with Highland competition and urban RSCDS influence tended
to smile. country folk, while obviously having a good time, were inclined to
look at partners less and show less of their teeth when they smiled.
>
> In Summerschool dances at Younger Hall (joint town & RSCDS sponsorship),
the faces with boundless joy were primarily RSCDS incroud and foreigners.
>
> This phenomena is not necessarily Scottish. As some may know, I am in the
process of moving to Mallorca. Below the Cathdral every Sunday, the town
council provides a band. While some sit and listen many stand in an open
circle, withing which there is traditional Spanish dancing (bring your own
castanets, no one in costume). The only set of teeth I saw on the floor
where those belonging to a local traditional dance teacher, she was also the
only one who gave constant eye contact, others either looked introspective
or at the ground. In Placa Cort, the square before the town hall, there is
also dancing of special national and local holidays. Here half the dancers
and many of the spectators are in costume. All those costumed have toothy
smiles and constant eye contact.
>
> "demteamism?"
>
> Historically, men giving eye contact might be considered leering, and
women returning the contact "wanton."
> Once in a village, I was photogrphing a monument, when two teens came into
range. Coming from school (books strapped with a leather belt), they had
calf length blue pleated skirt, blazers, ties, and very thick stockings.
Hair tightly bound in a knot at the nape of the neck.
> Sensing their embarrassment at almost being in the picture, I made a joke
suggesting that I valued my camera too much than to risk it taking their
picture.
> To which was an immediate, and very sophisticated retort, delivered
without any eye contact, noses pointed to the ground at a 45 degree angle.
But I could tell that they were smiling, laughing, and elbowing each other
at their cleverness.
> On the streets of my village, everyone greets each other, but the heads of
women remain down, until the last minute, and return their after the
obligatory, "bon dia". If acquainted, and a conversation is started, there
is eye contact but often less direct than in the States but without about
the same degree of separation between the speakers.
>
>
> R Goss
> [xxxxxxx.x.xxxx@xxx.xxx]
>
>
>

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