BEATRICE BENELLI

Slaves to the Rhythm: History and Stories of the World of Dancing

This volume is a product of the belated but all-encompassing passion which allowed the author - who teaches developmental psychology - to attend schools and dance halls where the art of dancing is practised and uncover its secrets and its behind-the-scenes workings. The book is not a mere tribute to dancing in its various aspects (aesthetic, psychological, and social); it is also a semi-serious analysis, both authentic and steeped in real life, of the subjective and individual implications of dancing, attending dancing schools, the various personalities of dance lovers, dance halls where devotees obey the beat of the unchanging phases of seduction and conquest of self and others. Dancing, its physical dimensions and its rites are a perfect metaphor of human existence. When you enter a dance hall, albeit for a limited time and in a limited space, you show off, you fight with yourself and against others, you do your best, and yet you try not to expose too much of yourself nor to do it too quickly. As in real life, what really counts is managing to strike a substantial balance, yet leaving oneself and others a chance for further interaction. You can learn a lot on the dance floor: you get to know yourself and your gender, trust and doubt others, observe and be observed, dare and withdraw at the right moment. Through descriptions of environments, reflections, personal memories, and suggestions, the reader who no longer frequents dance halls will find him/herself once again in a cherished setting; the reader who is curious about dancing will find in this volume an enjoyable incentive towards taking his/her first few steps.

Beatrice Benelli teaches Psychology of Language and Communication Development in the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Padua.

series "Intersezioni"
pp. 232, 978-88-15-08082-0
publication year 2001