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Caitlin Harrison
Professor Olivia Rines
16 March 2015
Microethnography: UNC-Chapel Hill Carolina Vibe Dance Team
Almost every little girl has been in a tutu and ballet slippers at one point in their life;
whether it was a one-time dance camp that their parents forced them into or if they devoted their
lives to the art of dancing throughout their lives, like myself. Many times parents encourage their
daughters and oftentimes sons as well to take a ballet class or two at a young age in order to
provide their child with an emotional outlet and a sense of discipline. Through my experience
studying the subject of discourse communities, I had the opportunity to observe and interview a
dance team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill called Carolina Vibe in order to

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:46 AM

Comment [1]: Maybe word this
differently. A lot of parents something like
Meredith 3/23/2015 9:47 AM
Comment [2]: I dont think that you need
this. When they have at least taken one
class, not many automatically take a second

analyze this discourse community. The members of this team are devoted to the art of dance and
share a bond much greater than just that of a discourse community; to an everyday onlooker such
as myself, these girls are a perfect representation of a family brought together by the love of
In the excerpt The Concept of a Discourse Community from the book Writing about
Writing by John Swales, the author addresses the idea of a discourse community and explains
characteristics as to how they are defined. Within the world of literacy there are numerous
definitions and understandings of the term discourse community. Because of this, Swales
attempts to clarify, for procedural purposes, what is to be understood by discourse community
and, perhaps in the present circumstances, it is better to offer a set of criteria sufficiently narrow
that will eliminate many of the marginal, blurred and controversial contenders (Swales, 218).

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:44 AM

Comment [3]: Make a new sentence.

Harrison 2

Throughout this chapter, Swales outlines six characteristics that should be used to define a
discourse community. Before reading this article, I was never aware of the prevalence of
discourse communities that are present all around us; and to be completely honest, I wasnt really
even aware of the term.

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:49 AM

Comment [4]: This word makes the
sentence seem a little jumbled.

Swales addresses the first characteristic of a discourse community as sharing a broadly

agreed set of common goals (Swales, 220). This characteristic is very apparent when we
analyze the discourse community of the UNC-Chapel Hill Carolina Vibe dance team. In the
interview conducted with Alison Fluharty, the president of Carolina Vibe, she responded to the

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:49 AM

Comment [5]: Only you analyzed this
community, so make sure your pronouns
agree with that.

question regarding the goals of the team as follows; In general the major push for the UNC
dance community is to get the dance minor. Pretty much every dancer at UNC wants this to
happen, so we participate in a lot of guest shows to support the cause. Raising awareness of all
the dance groups on campus is a major goal for all of us (Fluharty). Alison was immediately
able to describe the overall goal of her team and the other teams on campus in particular, while
Megan Palmer, the second interviewee responded by describing possible goals for a dancer as an
individual. She acknowledged how some artists might feel the need to make a statement with a
work, while others might have the goal of providing just a really great piece of entertainment
(Palmer). It is clear that within the discourse community of Carolina Vibe, there is a major
emphasis on the awareness of the arts around campus and a push to introduce a dance minor at
the University. When addressing the goal of dance teams in general, the overarching goal would
be to entertain the audience with a well-choreographed performance as well as to provide
socialization of the dancers.
Next, Swales describes the second characteristic of a discourse community. The author
states, A discourse community has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:52 AM

Comment [6]: Great job of adding that
quote in.

Harrison 3

(Swales, 221). Carolina Vibes members communicate with each other in a number of ways.
First, and perhaps most importantly, the team meets three times a week for their scheduled
practice. In order for the dance to be choreographed and the dancers to each understand the

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:56 AM

Comment [7]: How long are their

dance and be able to perform it correctly, meetings that are face to face on a weekly basis are
crucial. The members of the team are also all included in a group message via text. Through their
group text, they are able to quickly communicate with each other about upcoming events and
reminders. Within this group, there is an emphasis on the personal relationships within the team
members as well. With these methods of communication, they are able to strengthen these
relationships on a daily or weekly basis.
In addition, Swales adds a third criteria to the concept of a discourse community. A
discourse community uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and
feedback, he explains (Swales, 221). On Chapel Hills campus there is a group that was created
for this purpose entirely. Carolina Dance Initiative (CDI) is an overarching group that

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:57 AM

Comment [8]: Great job of adding in the

coordinates all the dance companies. They hold meetings at the beginning of the year to help
freshman find dance groups, they hold a show in the spring to showcase all the dance groups,
and they also hold free classes throughout the week that anyone can attend (Fluharty). The
Carolina Dance Initiative is an excellent example of how this discourse community connects
members of the society to certain dance teams. There is also a larger-scale organization that has a
similar purpose. The Universal Dance Association (UDA) shares information about upcoming
dance competitions, events, and camps throughout the country (UDA). These organizations both
allow interested members of the society to connect with the dance community as a whole and
allows for information to be shared within the dance community.

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:55 AM

Comment [9]: Is this plural or talking
about one girl?
Freshman or

Harrison 4

Next, the fourth defining characteristic is that A discourse community utilizes and hence
possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims (Swales, 221).
Swales explains that these may involve appropriacy of topics, the form, function, and

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:59 AM

Comment [10]: Maybe have another
transition since this has already been used

positioning of discoursal elements, and the roles texts play in the operation of the discourse
community (Swales, 221). Carolina Vibe uses a number of different genres in order to further
this communitys purpose. For example, flyers about upcoming events that the team will be
participating in are created in order to increase the awareness of these events. Social media posts
are also created for these events as well. The group has actually assigned the job of creating these
things to the members that have been elected as the social chair.
Swales then goes on to include the fifth characteristic which is In addition to owning

Meredith 3/23/2015 10:00 AM

Comment [11]: Since you already said
also I dont think you need to include as
well too.

genres, a discourse community has acquired a specific lexis (Swales, 222). In the discourse
community of a dance team, there are very obvious examples of the specific lexis that the
members use. The choreography of most dances is almost always based on the counts of 8.
Dancers use this as an underlying basis of their knowledge for which steps occur at any given
moment. Another example of the lexis that not only Carolina Vibe, but most every dance team

Meredith 3/23/2015 10:01 AM

Comment [12]: 8 or eight? Im not sure
what the rule on spelling numbers is
maybe check that out.

uses is the incorporation of French terminology. In ballet, which is the basis for every other type
of dancing, every position and movement is named after a French term. For example, the
Technical Manual and Dictionary for Classical Ballet defines the French word Arabesque as
a position of the body, in profile, supported on one leg, with the other leg extended behind
(Grant, 2). Battements are very commonly used movements throughout most choreography. The
knowledge of French vocabulary that a dancer acquires over his or her life is immense. Most
dancers, myself included, would agree that the understanding of these terms is critical to
understand choreography.

Meredith 3/23/2015 10:04 AM

Comment [13]: to be able to
understand choreography?
Is critical to understanding choreography?

Harrison 5

Lastly, Swales states that a discourse community has a threshold level of members with
a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise (Swales, 222). The various levels
of expertise can be seen throughout numerous different aspects as a dancer. The choreographer,
in most cases, is seen as the one who holds the most suitable degree of expertise. The students
would be those of lesser proficiency; hence, the reason they are being taught in the first place by
one who has greater knowledge of the content. There is also evidence of these various levels of
expertise within Chapel Hills Carolina Vibe dance team. As Megan stated in her interview,
[The] President sends out the emails, manages schedules, and makes executive decisions on
issues and updates social media accounts. The artistic director manages music, choreography,
costumes, and helps the president with social media videos and promos. Secretary enforces

Meredith 3/23/2015 10:06 AM

Comment [14]: The social

attendance policies. Treasurer ensures the spring showcase and deals with all monies. Social
chair manages and plans social events (Palmer). The amount of power one holds on this team in
particular is directly associated with title they have been given due to the experience and
knowledge that they have. The girls on the dance team democratically elect members to hold
these titles based on the ability that they believe their team members hold.
As was stated before, examples of discourse communities are evident all around
us everyday. During my experience analyzing the discourse community of Chapel Hills
Carolina Vibe Dance Team, I was able to identify that this groups main goal is to introduce a
dance minor at the University and to raise awareness of the arts around campus. The concept of
understanding various discourse communities is pertinent in order to grasp the underlying goal of
groups within all cultures.

Meredith 3/23/2015 10:09 AM

Comment [15]: With the title?
Meredith 3/23/2015 10:10 AM
Comment [16]: When does this election
take place?
Meredith 3/23/2015 10:10 AM
Comment [17]: Too far of an indent.

Meredith 3/23/2015 10:11 AM

Comment [18]: Throughout the paper,
this is not quoted nor dance team
capitalized. Make sure theyre all the same.
Meredith 3/23/2015 10:11 AM
Comment [19]: Unless you name a
specific university, I dont believe that this
needs to be capitalized.

Harrison 6

Works Cited
Grant, Gail. The Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet. 3rd ed. 1982. Print.
N.P. Universal Dance Association. Varsity Brands, Inc. Web. 16 March 2015.
Swales, John. The Concept of Discourse Community. Genre Analysis: English in Academic
and Research Settings. Boston; Cambridge UP, 1990. 21-32. Print.
Fluharty, Alison. Personal Interview. 9 March 2015.
Palmer, Megan. Personal Interview. 9 March 2015.

I enjoyed your introduction; it seemed very personal which made me want to keep reading.
However, your experiences somewhat withered away as the paper progressed. I would have liked
to read about how you felt watching them perform or practice. Including your observations will
allow the reader to imagine what you are witnessing, which will also keep it personal. You stated
very solid information which gave you strong claims. You identified the six characteristics very
well and added them into your paragraphs very smoothly with great transitions. Remember, your
readers are people that may have never encountered dance before. Being very analytical and
being a professional/ expert yourself will allow them to feel like they know all about the topic
when they are done reading. You formatted your paper exactly how it was supposed to be with
MLA conventions. I noted on the citations page that you did not need to include the people that
you interviewed. Make sure you are addressing the most important things for an outsider to know
about this community. While you gave awesome information, I dont think that I know the most
important things about this community. Overall, great paper but just consider the comments that
I made and suggestions that I have given you.

Meredith 3/23/2015 9:51 AM

Comment [20]: You do not need to
include this data reference.

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