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Think of the main dance shows that you see on TV nowadays in the English-speaking world. These shows are highly-professionalized and have very little to do with social dancing.
They are for bailarines. But in Cuba, when it comes to showcasing good dancing, what people want to see are the bailadores.
Here are a couple of videos showcasing regular people dancing alongside internationally renowned bands on national television:.
Likewise, as mentioned above, dance competitions are filled with bailadores that have nothing to do with professional dancing.
You can see this clearly in the following video, from the televised dance competition Para bailar casino in Cuba. Even as you watch the amazing dancing that happens in the video, do notice that when, at 2: As you have seen, to Cubans, casino is a social dance, not some one-time choreography done for television or a dance show.
Whereas in the U. All of this brings me to the very question that gives this post a title: Are artists destroying casino as a social dance?
Leave that to the bailadores. However, outside of Cuba we have a different picture. As we have also seen, outside of Cuba, the demarcations between the stage and the social dance floor are not so clear precisely because people did not grow up within a dance culture that could give them the tools to be aware of this difference.
Indeed, most Cubans who are teaching casino in the U. And in many ways, their artistic background seeps into what they teach, sometimes to the point that all that students really get is a sort of Cuban-themed So You Think You Can Dance , where much of what occurs in these classes are artistic choreographies that have very little value on the social dance floor.
In all the above videos, what you see is not really casino as it is danced by the regular people in Cuba. As someone who is used to seeing casino danced mostly by social dancers or bailadores , this looks choreographed—and in many ways, it is; look at the Seo Fernandez video or the Wilmer and Maria one and you will notice that there are clearly-choreographed steps, such as when they break off and do their own steps individually.
That level of choreography does not belong on the social dance floor. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with choreographies.
They are fun and entertaining. I personally enjoy watching dancers create their art in whatever way they want. The artistic expression has replaced the dance, as it is danced socially.
In fact, if you were to compare the casino dancing from the first examples I gave in this post and these later ones, you will see that they have very little in common.
Oh, and by the way: Again, artistic expression replacing actual social dancing. By the way, this is not happening to casino only.
At any rate, the reason that I state that artists are destroying casino as a social dance is that artists are the ones who are often the most popular on YouTube.
Their dance videos get the most views; therefore, more people are exposed to them than to any other casino dancing videos, including videos of people dancing casino in Cuba.
More and more, the artistic expression is replacing the actual dance. It would explain the explosion of fusions that are coming out of the international Cuban dance community nowadays.
Every day, casino is becoming less casino, and more of everything else. So, can this be stopped? What I do know is that you can be more conscientious about what you dance, and that there are many videos out there, and people, showing and teaching what casino looks like when danced socially.
And then there are videos of bailadores teaching to dance casino as a social dance. Here are some examples, though I would always recommend watching something straight from the island.
I do want to make something clear as I end this piece. By writing this, I am not saying that artists have no business teaching casino, a social dance.
There is no rule as to who can do it, be it an artist or otherwise. All I am saying to artists is: Put the art aside for a minute; leave it for the performances.
This is a very thought-provoking article. I think the biggest issue is artists perpetuating unrealistic expectations when it comes to progressing in casino.
As you stated, most of the material taught at festivals and congresses is highly choreographed and practiced for weeks on end so it is not realistic to expect a student to be able to learn this material in an hour-long workshop.
Even worse, when students dance socially they are made to feel like they are not good dancers because they cannot execute these complicated patterns.
On the contrary — I think that that video shows how one can be very lax, gentle and dance socially in a rather simple and very enjoyable manner and still be very much in tune with the music and their partner.
Even if the artists do not claim to be teachers, they put themselves in a teaching position: And regardless of what they are claiming to teach, many students are not equipped with enough knowledge to know the difference.
While Yoannis is a great bailador, that video is not one of casino social dancing. An example of Yoannis actually dancing casino socially is this one: