Dancing madly, passionately

22 janvier 2000
25m 28s
Ref. 00701

Information

Summary :

Report devoted to dancesport in France, which compares two portraits of fans of this discipline and includes factual images of various competitions.

Some sacrifice everything for this discipline which needs to praticised like figure skating: with tenacity and rigor. In the whole of France, one hundred and thirty clubs are authorized to send candidates to the different competitions. People of all ages are eager to enroll at the clubs concerned.

Media type :
Broadcast date :
22 janvier 2000
Source :
TF1 (Collection: Reportages )
Themes :
Places :

Context

It was Camille de Rhynal, in 1909, who created the principle of the world couple dance championships, which he then named "standard dances.»

Travelling widely, after having applied for a patent in France, he did the same in all the countries of the world where he naturally stayed with the great aristocracy, and each time he filed a patent. It was the opportunity to spread his new concept and to gradually bring together many countries to increase his own importance. It was at this time that rules naturally began to appear, as well as a technique with its figures and steps laid down in writing to be performed according to a precise method. And it was the French who invented what we now call dancesport, as well as the foundations of what is still called international technique.

Towards the middle of the 20th century, Camille de Rhynal, now old and tired, sold all his rights to England, which led to progress being made in this branch. Dancesport is now listed among the activities recognized by the French Sports Ministry, but it has greatly regressed in recent decades, because the French gradually lost interest: too much focus is placed on the sporting side, and dancesport has lost much of its artistic direction.

Two branches make up these competitions today: international Latin including dances like samba, paso doble, rumba (or bolero), cha-cha-cha and the jive (or rock 'n' roll). International standard includes the quick Waltz, the slow Waltz, tango, slow foxtrot and quick-step (or quick Foxtrot).

Dancesport has already provoked and continues to provoke many controversies. On the one side, there are the fans of these competitions who are spread out across all the five continents. And on the other side, there are the critics who find the whole idea, starting with the concept of "dancesport", totally mind-boggling, stupid, ridiculous, outdated and even vulgar. The report shows quite well what this discipline of champions really means: a great deal of body work, countless hours of training -the technique is just as strict as for classical dance - hours spent trying to find and enrich the choreography. This is not including the sacrifice involved in terms of travelling (some travel abroad every weekend), and the effort that goes into creating the costumes, some of which are worthy of the greatest fashion designers.

In the report, our friend Nicolas expresses the happiness that he gets out of dancesport, as well as his rewarding experiences. He explains, quite honestly, that he thought he was a good dancer; that he had even won many awards, but undeservedly, because before really focusing on these dances in school, "he wasn't doing music.» The worst for a good dancer. But how many go down this path?

It is quite true that competitors in general, and particularly those in France, live in environments that are too closed off to have the perspective needed to advance these dances in their country, whatever their place of origin. The fact that these competitions are not liked by certain people does not alter the fact that on an international level, a very large number of dancers have taken immense joy out of competing for more than a century. One example: the largest competition in the world takes place, once a year in May, in Blackpool, a small seaside resort in the North West of England.

This competition is called the British OPEN, meaning that it is open to the world, in contrast to the World Championships, where each country can only be represented by its best two couples. This immense competition, composed of amateurs and professionals, under-18s and adults, dancers performing «Latin American» dances and 'standard' dances, show-dance, demonstrations, and formations (choreographies for twelve or sixteen couples performed to a musical medley), has taken place each year since 1920, with only one exception during the war. Every time, it welcomes thousands of participants from dozens of countries around the world. And to give just one example, if you want to participate in the standard dances competition, since it is "open to the world", you will find yourself in a group of more than a 1,000 couples who will have to perform several times before the judges, and on several different days before the final.

Only a few dancesport competitions that are broadcast on certain television channels seem to exist today, for the mainstream French public in any case, in addition to televised celebrity dance shows, a trend from England that also spread around the world.

Not everyone likes classical dance, and contemporary dance is not exactly everybody's cup of tea. But this is the very essence of art. Isn't the important thing that there is something for everyone?

Christian Dubar

Transcription

(Music)
Commentator
They are between 2,500 and 3,000 people in France who practice dancesport. Fans who are willing to sacrifice everything to live their passion, their free time, their private life. often even their life savings.
(Noise)
Commentator
They belong to all generations, come from all walks of life they can be hairdressers, teachers, bankers, students, senior citizens.
(Music)
Commentator
Sonia and Christophe
(Music)
Commentator
Angelica and Cédric. Sandrine and Thierry, Michel and Charline, Beatrice are just a few of them
(Music)
Commentator
Marion and Damien are 13 years old. Nicolas the Dean is77.
(Music)
Nicolas
Dance for me is ... It's spiritual, it's beautiful, it is... I don’t know how to explain it, it's... it's poetry, It is like a painting with colours, shadows, and lights. It is a fresco. Dance for me is that. For me, dance is not just one two three four. It means going upwards, towards the sky. Touching a dream. I was 67 years old when I started to learn to dance. dancesport. well I needed to do something. I wasn’t always going to dance in dance schools,. to do improvisation, I wanted to do something real. Something well-devised, something elaborate. Also the sports side because, at my age I needed to do something physical. To be able to... still young. In my mind, and in my body, to hold on to a little bit of youth. Stay young. I was 20 years old all the time, so anyway. I am 77 years old, and I'm still 20 years old.
Commentator
Nicolas, I see that there are trophies behind you, I take it you have won competitions.
Nicolas
Yes, but I don’t know if I really deserved them. Sincerely, they gave me trophies, but as I was not up to it, I don’t see why I have trophies. Often they judged me on my energy, my moves, for my physiognomy, for my love of dance. They judged me for all that, but they did not judge me on my technique. Because I still can’t do it I'll tell you the truth, I participate in competitions Me personally not to allow me to attain a high level. But to wear such attire. Wear my tails. Have a beautiful, well-dressed partner. Be handsome, elegant, courteous. Real classy. or at least try to by classy. And to be on the dance floor with beautiful moves, and beautiful music. Improve and go to heaven.
(Music)
Nicolas
Therefore. It's true, dance for me is like my church.
(Music)
Commentator
Sonia played modern jazz. At the age of 10, after having attended an exhibition, she become passionate about dancesport. Since she met Christophe, 8 years ago, that they have been dancing together.
Christophe
Mr [...] who is here perhaps doesn’t even not know that I do dancesport.
Unknown
Oh no not at all.
Commentator
Sandrine teaches hairdressing during the day, but every night she goes dancing.
Sandrine
We are a family of dancers, my grandparents met at a dance, my parents met at a dance, Myself, I met my husband at a dance, so in fact it runs in the genes. I said to myself that he wasn’t bad looking and that it would be very nice to dance with me in competition. I asked him, I asked him “do you want to dance with me? ". He said to me "you’re crazy".
Thierry
Yes, but for me, it was complicated because, She asked me if I wanted to dance with her, and I had seen her doing a demonstration, and I said to myself. I could never do it like you since she was already very advanced for her level. And so I said: it is going to be difficult. She said to me "we can but try", and three weeks later, I was on a dance floor, simply I, I had only learned the basics of the cha-cha and rock at the time, and the first anecdote I can tell you is that I was there on the dance floor to compete and I saw men at the time all dressed up around the floor and I said to Sandrine- it was in a casino. I said to Sandrine. There are a lot of servers, and they are all watching us. She said to me: no, no, they are the judges, well I didn’t say that they were going to be voting as well. Well, it started like that.
Commentator
Thierry was a banker. He used to do judo and jogging. Until the day he met Sandrine,. he also caught the dance virus. He left his bank, and became a dance teacher and trainer at a club for dancesport enthusiasts.
Unknown
So dancesport, is it a sport or is it dance?
Sandrine
Dancesport, It is both a sport and a dance. First and foremost, It's ballroom dancing, i.e., we want to dance, So we want to make progress by ourselves and then after that you can choose a sport where there are competitions. But fundamentally, They are the same dances.
(Music)
Christophe
For us, dance is a passion, it even goes beyond even a passion, we need to practise at night, it’s like a drug, It is really something, It's a real pleasure after a long day, for the legs, which lasts between eight and nine hours a day. We really need it.
(Music)
Sonia
We are among the top French couples after all, especially in the category of standard dances, but unfortunately. compared to other foreign couples, we are small, so in order to reach their level or get closer to it at least, we need, a lot a lot of dance classes.
Christophe
We are obliged to go on practising, take courses.
Sonia
Oh yes because we are far from perfection, we already know how to dance, but to be able to make progress in our sport, you have top keep on practicing, and work to keep up the level.
(Noise)
Christophe
The more you progress in dance, the more you try to be perfect and understand that you have to keep on working at it, I have to keep on working at it, and in fact the aim of the game is that. If we do a move, and we work together. We contradict ourselves, in fact it’s like we’re fighting with each other. We are not in harmony when we dance.
(Silence)
Christophe
We are not dance professionals, but we feel like we have two jobs. Sonia sells phones, I am a hairdresser, In addition, we have the impression that our second job is dancing so it's something intense that we like a lot, but it is not easy to manage them both. And what about holidays?
Sonia
As soon as we have leave, We use it either to go on dance courses abroad, or to do competitions. But we cannot take a holiday without dancing, it's not possible.
Commentator
Dancesports are dances that have seen many fashions and many ages. The waltz the Viennese waltz the tango, the foxtrot, the quickstep, These are the so-called standard dances and then there are the ones known as Latin dances, the cha cha cha, the paso doble the rumba, the samba or the jive, i.e. Rock, but they are danced to a pace that requires great physical stamina, as new generations want to distinguish themselves from previous generations, by more physical involvement and much more creative choreography, accompanied by modern rhythms.
Marion
When we say to others that we dance the waltz, tango, or things like that, they say. Oh, that’s really old. But every time they see it,. they say it's good, You dance well. For me they are not just for old people. For me, dances for old people include the musette, the valse musette, things like that.
Christophe
Marion and Damien started dancing at the age of 5. Their parents enrolled them in the same school so they could compete together.
Marion
At the start, as I was small, I wouldn’t say that I got fed up with it, but It bored me But as soon as I did it with Damien, I loved it.
Damien
At first, mum and dad danced. They organized an evening at the ice rink. I wasn’t allowed to go there, I was still too young, And then I asked what I needed to do to get in. They told me I just had to do dance.
Commentator
Since then, they have won numerous awards and championship titles.
Marion
The one that I like the most is that one, because it was the first time that we did the French championships. If was the first time we won. My parents said that we had danced well. And I said, yes I think I danced well, and it was good. I was happy with my performance, but I didn't think I was going to be French champion. Not for a second. It didn’t even cross my mind. And then as soon as I was called for the prize of first place, I was so happy. I almost cried even. I was so happy that I jumped into my mother’s arms, because I was happy.
Unknown
How do you manage to reconcile dance and school?
Damien
It is quite hard because in the evening you don’t necessarily have the time to do your homework. Otherwise school is pretty easy. At the beginning, the other boys said. Ah the girl dancer... But now it's OK.
Geoffroy
At the age of ten, it’s better to say that you dance the Cha-Cha and the rock than a dancesport because immediately, dancesport's is associated with ballet. it’s something for girls and it doesn’t go down too well. You’ll be doing a girls’ sport. You’ll be excluded, I personally was excluded from my class. By the boys because I was doing a dance for girls. So there you have it, It doesn’t go down so well. I did sport, I did karate, I played football and tennis and then I was addicted to dance. It was the only one that calmed me down, let's say.
(Music)
Commentator
Unfortunately very few boys like Geoffroy are tempted by dancesport. It is probably one of the reasons why these disciplines are slow to develop in France.
(Music)
Commentator
Damien solved the problem in his own way.
(Noise)
Commentator
He asked the Headmaster of his school to let him and Marion, perform a dance in front of their classmates. The jive, of course. It’s the dance that most pupils like.
(Music)
Commentator
So when you see Damien dancing like that, what do you think?
Schoolboy
Well it’s a little bit disgusting, because he is such a great dancer, and we are just hopeless.
Schoolgirl
What’s especially pretty are the outfits, they’re really magical.
Commentator
Schoolgirl
Have you already tried dancing with him?
Commentator
No, I'm too big for him. It doesn’t look good.
Schoolgirl
If you see a boy like Damien dancing, what do you think? That all boys should follow Damien’s example. There are many who think that it is a sport for girls. It's completely ridiculous, because It is elegant more than anything.
Nicolas
A good [maitian], it is really very good. When I’m feeling down, I watch Fred Astaire. and immediately I want to dance. I want to do the same thing. I am so in awe of Fred Astaire. Fred Astaire is my God. You see , he is still there. He inspires me the most.
Commentator
Ah he’s just so sophisticated. Fred Astaire, he’s the master of all dancers to some extent. A lot of their choreographies were inspired by his. Have virtuosity, sophistication, and especially giving the impression that everything is easy. That’s why the right choice of outfit is essential. They must be made-to-measure, using stretch fabrics
Sonia
that allow them to move in harmony with the music, and to make the most of their moves. Your are obliged to work hard to be able to dance.
Sandrine
(Silence)
Sandrine
That one’s not bad either.
Christophe
I like the Spanish aspect.
Commentator
Instead of buying a car, we buy each other costumes for example.
Christophe
Are you going to buy him one with the prize money that you are going to win from the Championship? If I buy it, it will certainly not be with the prize money from the Championships because there isn’t any. Whether you finish first or sixth,. It’s almost just for the glory of winning. Actually, when we won the standard French Championships in 1997-98, we won... We won a trophy. And nothing else. So we won’t get very far with that, to buy a costume.
(Silence)
Commentator
Christophe
How much does an outfit cost? Then, it depends, if it is a standard dress, a beautiful dress can cost anywhere between 5,000 francs and 15,000 francs. In Latin dance, it’s easier to find a nice dress, it can range from 1,000 francs, up to 5,000 francs.
(Silence)
Sandrine
(Silence)
Commentator
Christophe
How do you manage to survive? There can be months where we don’t spend a lot of money because we don’t have many classes and we don’t buy a new outfit every month. However there are months where, it is true, it's scary. So we really need to manage our budget. and put aside 5-6,000 francs for dancing every month, that is to say when we have nothing to buy etc. To cover the next month if there is a big expense.
Sonia
Like this time for example, for the costume.
Christophe
we were putting money aside for four months, a little bit each month. It's a big expense, in one go. So it is true that, if for example we had gone on vacation, we would have spent a lot of money.
Sonia
We have found this system.
(Music)
Commentator
Unknown
Why isn’t dancesport very well known in France? Well, it is known a little; at Bercy there are 20,000 spectators, that means that there is a sizeable audience that is interested in our discipline in France. And there are weekly competitions with a different audience. So the problem is a structural one in France, which has not yet allowed us to grow properly.
Commentator
But dancesport is beginning to gain ground in France. But there are only between 2,500 & 3,000 dancers in France, What is very little compared to the 140,000 who take a degree in German, 300,000 dancers in England or even 40,000 in Italy, a country that knew nothing of this discipline ten years ago,
(Music)
Commentator
The day of the competition has arrived. The France Championships: ten dances. There are Sonia’s dresses, Christophe’s outfits to take. Shoes made of buffalo hide. It’s important not to forget anything.
Christophe
Is there a lot of luggage like that?
Sonia
There is a lot of luggage, yes. For me, it’s only a small fraction, but for Sonia...
Christophe
I just have a suitcase and a bag. Wait, a suitcase, a bag, and another bag. And another small bag and then possibly a backpack. In the subway, what I like the most is having to go through the turnstile. Imagine, trying to get the suitcase through, it’s not easy, especially now they have put turnstiles as well as doors. So Sonia goes in front, I put the suitcase through, Sonia puts her suitcase through... And so forth.
(Noise)
Commentator
And it is not just the subway. Approximately 100 couples have come from throughout France. Couples who know each other well, they meet up regularly throughout the year,
Dancer 1
for the many challenges.
bruits
Do you want me to help you Sonia?
Sonia
(silence) In general, competitions are often on Saturdays
Christophe
But well, I manage to always find a solution with my colleagues so I can leave. For me it's different. I work alone so I have to close my hair salon. But I am lucky enough to have clients who are understanding and who usually come to me the week after
(Music)
Commentator
We will now have to dance the ten dances back-to-back. First the standard dances, then the Latin,
(Music)
Commentator
It will be like that all day long! Ten playoff dances,
(Music)
Commentator
We are in fantastic shape. Older people have to provide a medical certificate to participate in competitions.
Dancer
(Silence)
Dancer
It is both. Because it is very, very physical. In the finale, we can say that in the finale when we dance the finale in full throttle, for every dance in terms of effort, it’s equivalent to running the 110 metre hurdles.
Commentator
Approximately, with the same heart rate.
Dancer
Could you live without dance?
Commentator
No I don’t think so.
(Music)
Commentator
This time around, despite all their enthusiasm, all their effort, months of work and sacrifices, Sonia and Christophe tripped up.
bruits
They failed so close to the final.
Commentator
(Noise)
Sonia
Are you still OK? Well it’s OK, I’ll feel better tomorrow, perhaps. But... That’s sport for you.
(Noise)
Commentator
Something all the same to lift their spirits after the disappointment of Sonia and Christophe. Marion and Damien, their young protégés. climb up to the top step of the podium. Today, they are French junior champions of dancesport.