Author and copyright 2006 Chris Ricciotti
For as long as humans have inhabited the earth, dancing and music has been an integral part of our existence. Who can sit idly by with a great tune playing and an addictive rhythm filling the room with energy?
The idea of same gender dancing or dancing without regard to gender may be a new idea to many people today, but it has been around in different forms, filling different needs for a long time, and it has a rich and interesting history. Interest in what some call “gender-free” dancing has spread in gay and in some cases, the straight dance community, and is slowly becoming a part of the traditional that makes up the folk dance scene today.
Gender-free dancing is a lot of fun and has the potential of providing a great learning experience, as well as a new and creative challenge, particularly for experienced dancers. This form of dancing increases the potential connections dancers make on the floor, with all genders dancing together, as well as improving dancing skills.
Gender-free dancers – by dancing both roles regularly – begin to look at dance from a global, rather than individual perspective. Because everyone dances together, gender-free dancing tends to promote and build a satisfying and inclusive community. It's more than just dancing! Gender-free dance calling and teaching lend itself easily to contra dancing and square dancing, as well as English and Scottish Country Dancing, International Folk Dancing, and other forms of set and couple dancing.
I've included a history of dancing and gender, as well as some of my personal thoughts on gender- free dancing. I hope this manual will spark some lively and interesting discussions as you move forward in your exploration of this dance form as callers and dancers alike.
The late Carl Whittman, an important founder and role model of gender-free English and Scottish Country dancing Oregon during the 1970’s writes:
“The country dance form can be thought of as an exquisite vessel, in itself beautiful in shape, yet highly abstract. We can choose to fill this vessel with whatever meaning we like. If we like, we can pursue a particular friendship; we can rejoice in a sense of community; we can see in the music and the dance the highest of spiritual values; we can see it as good fun. The dance is all of these and greater than all of them."
I would like to acknowledge a special thanks to Andrew Carnie, Michael Ciccone, John Burrows, Brooke Friendly, Chris Sackett, Laura Johannes, Bob Peterson & Robert Coren for their editorial ideas and assistance in helping me pull this material together.
To read the whole document, use the link below.