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The Evolution of Dance - How Did We Get To Where We Are Today?!

Updated on February 11, 2016
The grace of Fred and Ginger
The grace of Fred and Ginger | Source

Ah, Fred Astaire, he of the smooth as silk movements on the dance floor. And Ginger Rogers, his ever present partner in symbiosis. Gene Kelly's athleticism and ability inspired millions of people to attempt what he could achieve on the floor. Danny Kaye had great talent as well while today's artists are, well, not quite what we had in yesteryear.

Actually, to put it bluntly, most are quite vulgar in their dance moves. What happened?

The African Anteater Ritual

The African Anteater Ritual which was performed as a joke in the film Can't Buy Me Love starring McDreamy himself Patrick Dempsey has become the norm when it comes to dance routines in song today. Gone are the fluid moves of Micheal Jackson (even though some of his moves were, eh, "questionable"), Paula Abdul and such, to be replaced by the hip heaving of Beyonce and the twerking (what the hell is that anyway?) of the former sugary sweet Hannah Montana actress Mylie Cyrus. Fading into the distant past are duos such as Fred and Ginger, while pelvis thrusts dominate the stage.

Perhaps the greatest dance routine of all time

There was a time when the singer actually sang; sang well enough that the voice itself was sufficient to inspire, to move, to entertain. Frank Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, Patty Page and many, many more had a voice that could take you to the stars, could carry you away. The songs were understandable, the words something you could identify with, sing along with. And that was good enough to entertain you at a concert. Look at George Strait: did you ever see him hip thrusting or twerking to get someone interested in his song? No way! His voice and songs are plenty for his fans.

Now look at Beyonce. She absolutely can not stand still and sing. I get it if the music moves you but come on! To have these back up dancers by the gross, following a set pattern of steps designed to get you along for the ride is beyond sad, it is pathetic. I cannot get past her show to even hear, let alone understand what her songs are even about. The "beat" overwhelms anything good that might be hidden within the song lyrics, and the dance moves are primitive in nature. Yes, primitive as in African continent primitive. Doubt my judgement? Go take another look at the African Anteater Ritual above and compare it to any one of her dance songs. I dare you to not see the comparison.

Is this what you really want to see?

Or this? A pairing of two great dancers.

This past weekend was the celebration of Football's greatest teams of the year competing in the Super Bowl for the 50th time; that fiftieth, as in half a century, five decades. That is something to celebrate to a large part of America. They had Lady Gaga sing the National Anthem and I was pleasantly surprised. She has a voice I had not given her credit for, sang the song basically straight (no additions to speak of) and carried it off rather well in my opinion.

Then came the Half Time Show. Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce. Rather than take the chance of running out of breath during their half hour of jumping, bouncing, twerking, thrusting, set pattern of gymnastic-like patterns and offensive to the eye moves, they moved their lips in a supposed mimicry of the words. They pantomimed. They lip synced. Like in the days of Milli Vanilli; remember them? Won a Grammy yet never sang a note? How is this crap any better than what they did way back when?

It Was Awful. It wasn't me that said this; many others including musician Carlos Santana felt this was a travesty.

When I learned the Super Bowl was to be played in San Francisco, I thought "What an opportunity! There have been some great bands from this area. I wonder who they will pick to perform?" I was thinking of Journey, Santana, Metallica and Huey Lewis and the News. Can you imagine Metallica and Santana jamming together? Journey singing "When The Lights Go Down In The City" about the city by the bay LIVE at the Super Bowl? Or "Don't Stop Believing" being heard by Carolina and it spurring them on to a come from behind victory? Huey Lewis singing "Hip To Be Square" and "Heart Of Rock n Roll" to tens of thousands of screaming fans? HAD to be better than what the NFL put on stage; HAD to.

But no, they took the easy road (to hell) and put up "popular" artists as being the show. It was sad, it was pathetic, it was beneath my time to watch. So after only a few moments, I changed the channel and came back about thirty minutes later to find the game getting ready to go.

And I know I wasn't the only one in America who did this.

How did you rate the 2016 Super Bowl Halftime Show?

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Okay, back to the dancing. Over the years we as a nation have gravitated to that which is beneath us, below our standards, in bad taste rather than follow our predecessors in striving to climb, to build, to achieve higher standards of living. Why? Are we lazy? Uninspired? Are we part of a mob as in ancient Rome? Does mob mentality rule over good sense and morals? Or is this progress, our children telling us this is better than Doris Day, Journey, Huey Lewis? Is Nicki Minaj really talented? Can she actually sing and carry a tune? Or is she simply someone on stage to shock us into wondering what comes next, a sort of car wreck style of entertaining. You know, we can't look away kind of thing?

I have always thought that a true test of a person's singing ability would be to host a show where today's artists came on stage and had to sing the same song note for note, no changing it, no inflections of their own to disguise their shortcomings as a singer: just sing. Leave out the dancing, leave out the "show", let the voice be the instrument.

I have a feeling we might find out that Justin Beiber, Brittney Spears and others really can't sing. Then they might just lose their popularity and end up working at the local burger joint as they have no other skills to speak of.

Dancing can be inspirational, uplifting, a joy to behold. It doesn't have to be vulgar, nasty, shocking to the eye. But that is what we as a nation seem to want: "That was horrible, nasty! I wonder what they will do next?" When did we decide to sink down to a lower level instead of rising up to the next?

Take one last look at that image of Nicki Minaj: Is that really what America wants? Dear God I hope not.


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    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 21 months ago from Missouri

      Cheyenne, I wish I didn't know who she was either! It seems as though most dance moves in music today are intended to shock, rather than uplift. Grace is gone, pelvic thrusts are in. How sad. But when you look at our society, small wonder we are where we are. Decency and kindness are so yesterday, insensitivity and "My Way!" are today. Take care, and hopefully the next generation can turn back the hands of time to a kinder, gentler period or maybe even carry us on to a better place.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 21 months ago from Central Florida

      I don't even know who Nicki Minaj is, but I don't like what I see. If she were truly talented she wouldn't have to get on stage half naked in order to keep her audience.

      I love good singing (with words you can hear and sing along with) and dancing. Love to do both, too. It takes talent and coordination to move your feet and let your body sway along with them. Most dancers today use their butts and arms instead of their feet.

      I pass a dance studio on my way home from work everyday. The classes at the end of the day are made up of children, both boys and girls. It's nice to see. Maybe that generation will put the grace and beauty back in dance.

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 22 months ago from Missouri

      Bill, the last time I danced was in 1976. A girl from church asked me to her high school Sadie Hawkins dance. I picked her up on Saturday night, took her to the dance then home afterwards.

      I never saw her again. She left the church she had attended for two years. THAT'S how bad a dancer I am! I drove her from God.

      This stuff today is not dance, it's some kind of shock / tribal / ritualistic crap. I can't stand it. Bring back the days of yore when people actually danced! Take care my friend.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 22 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I have two left feet, Mike, so what do I know? lol

      Seriously, at the risk of offending a few people, I agree with you completely. The halftime show was mediocre at best and that's being generous, and entertainment in the industry, in general, is all about the shock value. I'd love to see Fred and Ginger, live, one last time.