Friday, November 04, 2005

Square Dancing

Bow to your partner way down low; bow to your corner too. Circle left around that ring, circle left you'll do. Left allemande your corner, come back and do-si-do, left allemande your corner, and do a right and left grande. When you meet her, swing and promenade. . .

My sister and I had the privilege of learning some square dancing this past month, over the span of 4 two-hour lessons. I am acquainted with several families from the church near us that hosted the lessons. I met them through a series of providential events, and am thankful for the blessing of occasionally fellowshipping with these like-minded believers. I have long wished to learn square dancing, but never thought I would have an opportunity like this. The lessons this past month were in preparation for the church's Reformation/Thanksgiving celebration this weekend, and tonight was the square dancing. My sister unfortunately had to miss the event because of a previous engagement, but I was able to go and had a great time.

Square dancing is so much fun! Western Square Dancing, which is the type I learned, is kind of confusing at first because of all the different moves, but it gets easier with time. It was easier to learn square dancing with a group of people that were also new to it, so I didn't feel completely alone in my mistakes and confusion :). Growing up, my brother was known for making comments connecting me with the Klutz company, but we won't go there. . .

Square dancing is also great exercise - one of the few forms I enjoy, in fact. I love to walk and play basketball and volleyball, but that's about it in the exercise category. I will not start in on my hatred of other forms of exercise, particularly running ;).

Square dancing is great fellowship as well. Just as David danced before the face of God, so we, as Christians, can use dancing as a form of worship. It is sad that dancing has been ignored or rejected by so much of the Christian community today. Such a beautiful thing has been lost! Unfortunately dancing can be greatly misused and corrupted, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water! Dancing was created by God as a means to worship Him, and it is also a way of covenanting with fellow believers, bonding as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Unfortunately men are all too scarce at such events, not merely at this particular square dance gathering. In the case of this event, I think the problem was more due to the male/female ratio at the church, which is rather low. I am aware from others, though, that a shortage of male dance partners is a general problem. Our society has duped our men into thinking dancing is a dumb activity, not to be participated in by "real men." Real men don't dance. Sad that our men have bought into this. It was once considered to be a duty of men to attend and offer themselves as dance partners at social functions. Consider the two opposing examples of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley, both Jane Austen characters.

. . . Prepare yourself for something very dreadful. The first time of my ever
seeing him in Hertfordshire, you must know, was at a ball -- and at this ball,
what do you think he did? He danced only four dances! I am sorry to pain you --
but so it was. He danced only four dances, though gentlemen were scarce; and, to
my certain knowledge, more than one young lady was sitting down in want of a
partner. Mr. Darcy, you cannot deny the fact.

- Lizzy, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 31.

I was thinking of a much more precious circumstance of Mr. Knightley's coming
and asking me to dance, when Mr. Elton would not stand up with me; and when
there was no other partner in the room. That was the kind action; that was the
noble benevolence and generosity; that was the service which made me begin to
feel how superior he was to every other being upon earth.

- Harriet, Emma, Chapter 11.
I was pleased, throughout the lessons as well as the dance tonight, with the willingness of the other women to rotate in and out of the dances so all of us could have the opportunity to dance and learn the steps. We were able to make the most of a lack of partners, due to everyone's willingness to make sure no one was excluded.

I was even more impressed, though, by the willing and cheerful attitude displayed by the men, and their willingness to remain in the dances even after they began to tire. For those unfamiliar with the stories of Pride and Prejudice or Emma, it is important to note here that neither Mr. Darcy nor Mr. Knightley like dancing; however the latter willingly made himself available in an act of chivalry, while the former preferred to wallow in his pride and contempt.

Keep in mind that the majority of the "men" who attended the square dance lessons and dance were under the age of 15. How many boys that age do you know that would not only come to a square dance but willingingly spend the night dancing with girls and women of all ages, some they don't even know? It makes me smile when a gentlemanly young man of 12 or 13 years steps up to me and says, "Miss Susan, do you have a partner? May I have the honor of this dance?"

Now that is my idea of a well-bred young man :).


Ben Garrison said...

My experiences with square dancing have been awful, I must say. And, most dancing experiences in general I've had haven't been good. =P

But, then again, I guess I'm probably not what you'd consider a well-bred young man. ;-)

Ben Garrison said...

And, ya know, incidentally, when I read your comment about me calling you a Klutz, I was like "huh?", and it took me a while to remember ever considering you uncoordinated. I think I don't think of you as uncoordinated now because I really don't think of you as moving around very much. It's hard to be klutzy if you're sitting on the couch. ;-)

Susan said...

I think I don't think of you as uncoordinated now because I really don't think of you as moving around very much. It's hard to be klutzy if you're sitting on the couch. ;-)

. . . says the boy who lives his life and makes his money on a computer ;).

I don't sit on a couch all day. I rotate between the table (for eating, planning, and grading), the computer desk (for e-mail, blogs, and personal study), a chair (at my sewing machine), a bench (at the piano) and a couch (for reading). "Sitting on the couch" implies I watch a good deal of TV," which is the opposite of true ;). There is also this thing called teaching and tutoring that I do, and I do get of the house for other various events. . .

Mom and I try to walk every weekday morning and during the fall I actually enjoy being outdoors. The UV level is much lower then, and I can safely step outside while keeping up my ghostly-pale complexion ;). Autumn just begs to be enjoyed from outside.

Jessie said...

I'm pretty good at staying pale too : ) It's the swedish in me.
This post has reminded me to be thankful for the young gentlemen I do know. Granted there aren't that many-- but those that are make all of us ladies proud of them.
One such young man (17) goes to church with me and always reminds me of another Jane Austen quote:
"There aren't half a dozen men with 'gentlman' so plainly written across their faces as Mr. Knightley."
And the other, who lives in SC, loves the Austen movies and once deplored the fact that we don't dance anymore. He said something to the effect of "Why don't we dance anymore?? I mean, dancing like that just seems so... proper... and dignified..." This sweet comment from him brought out a general admiration of him from the rest of us girls... even if we did laugh a little (out of delight) and he got embarrassed...
Too bad being gentlemanly is a cause for embarrassment in today's "real men are rough men" society.

Mr. Baggins said...

I can tell you that there are a few of us out there. The main problem is that we don't get the opportunity.

Loved the Jane Austen quotes. Adrian and myself are vast admirers of her writings. Of us, may we never say, "Oh that he had sprained his ankle in the first dance." Dancing belongs to the age of chivalry, when men actually made sacrifices for women, and acted honorably to hem in all circumstances. The problem is that men are weak these days, not strong. If they were strong, then they would certainly not feel that their manhood was being attacked by something as noble as the dance (assuming, of course, that we are talking about the formal ballroom style, rather than "bump and grind" foolishness). The problem is that they are weak, not strong. The other problem is that women do not like chivalry these days, because it is "misogynist." Whatever.

Esther said...

Miss Susan, do you have a partner? May I have the honor of this dance?"

Awww...that's precious!!

It's hard to be klutzy if you're sitting on the couch. ;-)

*bursts out laughing* And here I thought Ben was going to say how graceful you seem...then he throws in the punch! ;) You have to love brothers!

Susan said...

"There aren't half a dozen men with 'gentlman' so plainly written across their faces as Mr. Knightley."

Jessica: I love that quote from Emma! I liked all the heros of the Jane Austen novels, but I do believe Mr. Knightley was the most gentlemanly and such an intriguing character.

Mr. Baggins: Yes, I was definitely not talking about "bump and grind foolishness." Sad that such corruption has made many write off all dancing as sinful. Also sad that chivalry is offensive to many women today. Kind of puts men in a lose-lose situation.

Ashley said...

We weren't allowed to dance at Taylor, and that always frustrated me! I would have given anything to have gotten the chance to learn some ballroom dancing!