Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lap Dancing: Who Gets To Define Art?

     A very controversial ruling was just handed out from the New York State Court of Appeals saying that Pole Dancing and Lap Dancing are not forms of art and therefore taxable. Before your heads go spinning you should read this article. This was not a landslide decision like some might believe it to be and it raises a more pertinent question of what art really is and who gets to define it. The court ruled in a 4-3 decision saying that "women gyrating on a pole to music, however artistic or athletic their practiced moves are, was also not a qualifying performance".
     I guess the first thing we need to do is define what dance is. Wikipedia defines dance as such: 

"Dance is a type of art that generally involves movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, performed in many different cultures and used as a form of expressionsocial interaction and exercise or presented in a spiritual or performance setting"

The other term that got thrown around in this decision was "choreography" which was defined as "the art of designing sequences of movements in which motion, form, or both are specified". 

     The deciding judges viewed lap dance as a form of "lowbrow art" such as baseball or the circus. What they didn't do was clearly define what highbrow art is. Instead they created a situation where the term "highbrow" was only applied to a specific type of dance: Ballet. However; the dissenting judges raised other great questions when saying that the state regulations on dance are not specific to types. Naturally one must assume they include all forms of dance and choreography. Also you need to consider the term "dancer" as referring to someone who dances. Considering the official definition of "dance" one must assume that anyone who engages in the art of dancing is a dancer and therefore an artist. Though the judges all agreed on this, the deciding judges still deemed lap dancing a lowbrow form of dance because "they don't promote culture in a community the way ballet or other artistic endeavors do" and are therefore taxable. 
     You could make an argument to which cultural classification lap dancing belongs to. The mother or father of three might tell you that there is no place for adult entertainment in their town. That this specific type of entertainment is extremely tasteless and cheap. However; look at the price of Ballet. If you want to sit up close to the Boston Ballet you're going to lose about $140 per person. Compare that to the person at the strip bar who drops $30-$40 every 15 minutes to have a man or woman perform a private dance in a private room for their own entertainment. It's about the same when you look at the cost. Obviously "class" and "taste" have nothing to do with the cost of art. It seems to be more about the publics perception of art that determines if it's highbrow or lowbrow, yet in the end that is only an opinion. 

So I do believe this is the part where you need to ask yourself. Are men or women who perform choreographed dance moves for money artists? 

Who are you to decide that?

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