Ballroom Dancing Nowadays
Ballroom dances are now classified and standardized according to styles and levels. However, many of the dances we do today maintain the spirit of their history in some ways. Ballroom dancing had begun to lose its popularity until recently the media brought it back to life. Once again, you may find ballroom dancing at social gatherings, competitions, and especially at weddings.
There are two main forms of ballroom dancing. International Ballroom Standard ( dances include Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Slow Foxtrot and Quickstep) and International Latin (dances include Samba, Cha-Cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive) are all enjoyed both socially and competitively (sport dance) around the world; American Style Smooth (dances Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz) American Rhythm (dances Cha-Cha, Rumba, Mambo, Bolero and Swing). American Style Ballroom and Rhythm is danced in the United States and Canada as well as Australia and New Zealand ( it is not called American style there) . In theUnited States you can learn Latin social dances like Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Country dances like West Coast Swing, Two Step, Country Cha-Cha and Country Waltz as well as the popular Argentine Tango.
The dance technique used for both International Ballroom and American Smooth styles are similar, but International Ballroom allows only closed dance positions, whereas American Smooth allows closed, open and separated dance positions and movements. International Latin dancing and American Rhythm have different styling and have different dance figures. The dance technique is very similar with slight differences. Dance tempos are also different for most of the ballroom dances.
Ballroom Dancing includes so many different dances and styles that it is difficult to link ballroom dance to a single history. Each dance encompassed within the genre has its own origins and an independent historical journey. Below find history about each individual ballroom dance.
History of Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom dancing is defined as “Any of various social dances in which couples perform a set of moves”. The word “ball” comes from the Latin “ballare” which means to dance and forms the base for the word ballroom. Ballroom dancing has many different dances and each dance has its own steps and moves. However one thing remains the same: each dance is performed by a leader (traditionally a man) and a follower (traditionally a woman).
Ballroom dancing was very popular among the upper class of England, in the late 18th century and didn’t catch on with the working class until the late 19th and early 20th century. In the early 1920’s competitive ballroom dancing started to gain popularity and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (formerly known as The Imperial Society of Dance Teachers) was formed to standardize ballroom dancing.
During the early part of the nineteenth century group dances remained extremely popular. The English Country Dance grew more popular throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. In addition to the Waltz, there were many other popular dances of the period, including: Quadrille, Polka, Mazurka and Polonaise. The two world wars of the time helped cross-pollinate dances such as the Charleston, Lindy Hop, Foxtrot and Twist between Europe and the U.S. and South America. Motion pictures featured dances, which allowed choreography to spread faster than ever. Every decade created its own set of dance fads such as the Twist, the Jitterbug and the beginning of swing dancing, not to mention the disco dancing.
The closed hold descended from the courts of Western Europe around the 1500’s, when men carried swords on their left side. As a result, ladies danced on the right of the man. When making turns in dance the men traditionally took the inside of the circle, to avoid hitting the surrounding audience with their sword.
Smooth and Standard Ballroom Dances
Waltz is officially known as the English or slow waltz, which is danced at approximately at 30 bars per minute. Slow Waltz originated from the Viennese Waltz which originated in Vienna in 17th Century. It is the basis for many dances and is popular all over the world.
Tango originated in the West Indies and found its way to Argentina and Uruguay. It was very popular in the lower-class districts of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. It has been stylized by the Gauchos and the music derived from the fusion of various forms from Europe. Many types of tango have developed into dance styles of their own like American Smooth Tango, International Standard Tango and Argentine Tango.
Viennese Waltz is the original form of the Waltz. Ballroom dance – The Waltz – originated in Vienna in the late seventeen hundreds. The 3/4 rhythm of a Waltz is said to have first appeared in Provence, France in 1559. It also became popular in a form of Italian folk music called the Volta. The Waltz arrived in England in the eighteen hundreds bringing with it scandal because of the close embrace of the man and woman, but the elegance and grace of the dance won the hearts of the royalty and the elite. Since then Europeans welcomed the Waltz into their parties and balls, adding to it the Polka and Tango. Viennese Waltz is danced today at 54 – 60 bars per minute.
The Foxtrot was introduced into the mainstream in 1913/1914 by an actor named Harry Fox. Over time, the foxtrot split into slow “Foxtrot” and quick “Quickstep” versions.
The Foxtrot takes many forms. There are differences between the Bronze and the Silver levels of American Smooth Foxtrot and International Standard Slow Foxtrot.
The Quickstep comes from the Ragtime music of the 1920’s and combination of the dances such as the Charleston, Foxtrot, Shimmy, One-Step, Peabody and the Black Bottom. The dance evolved into a very dynamic one with a lot of movement on the dance floor, lots of hops, runs, locks, quick steps with a lot of syncopation, momentum, and movement.
Rhythm and Latin Ballroom Dances