Ballroom dancing not the answer

Published Feb 26, 2014 at 5:54 am (Updated Feb 25, 2014 at 9:30 am)

In 1816 England, “The Times of London” warned parents of a new dance called the waltz, which featured “close compressure of the bodies” and “intertwining of the limbs.”

In the 1920s, The Charleston and its association with flappers was seen as the beginning of a more casual attitude towards sex.

When Elvis Presley performed on “The Milton Berle Show” in June of 1956, his pelvic thrusts during “Hound Dog” had critics panning him, the Catholic Church urging the public to “Beware Elvis Presley” in its weekly organ, and parents around the country concerned about the vulgarity he was perpetuating and the lack of moral values in the youth fans of the singer.

The elder generation gasping in horror over the younger generation’s latest dance craze is nothing new. But, the recent closure of a Peters Township High School dance due to students “twerking” is a story that has gone viral.

The Oxford Dictionary defines twerking as “dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.” It was made popular by former “Hanna Montana” star Miley Cyrus, whose horrendous outfits and offstage antics we find more disgusting than her dance moves.

But, one school board member chaperoning the dance, William Merrell, was particularly appalled by the teens’ moves. He suggested to the board at a recent meeting that students take dance lessons – he even went so far as to contact Arthur Murray Dance Studio to see what the students options were. Merrell felt that in addition to proper dance techniques, students would also learn social graces.

Dance lessons are not the answer, for many, many reasons.

Social graces should be taught by parents, teachers and other community members. Teenagers will be teenagers, and we can almost guarantee that if forced to take ballroom dance lessons, they would either not show up, not pay attention, or make a mockery of the whole situation – which they already are.

On Twitter, #letpeterstwerk was nationally trending last week. Tweets with photos depicting students twerking (in school, nonetheless), poorly Photoshopped staff members heads on Miley’s body and even a Photoshopped image of Miley twerking on top of the high school were on proud display. KISS 96.1 FM’s Mikey and Big Bob also got in on the action, talking about the subject on the KISS Morning Freak Show and online.

Should social graces, manners and self respect be taught at home by parents? Absolutely. Should students be twerking at a school-sponsored dance? Probably not. But, should they be requited to learn ballroom dancing? Definitely not.

And let us not forget that in about 25 years from now, these very students will more than likely be appalled at the current dance craze that their own teenage children are in to.

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