Since 16th Century, ballroom dancing has been used for courtship, socialization, exercise and even competition. Since its inception in medieval England, the dance has been welcomed by an enthusiastic audience and by artists from all over the world. The development of ballroom dancing is a product of popular traditions, combining courtship cultures and rituals
- Overview and features –
Ballroom dancing is performed by partners who dance to the rhythm of a particular song. Dancers use a series of step patterns to keep up with the character of the music. The main feature of ballroom dancing is that it is performed by the partners. The dance is done either to record songs or instruments. The ballroom dance encompasses a whole series of different styles practiced throughout the world such as Cha-Cha, foxtrot, quickstep and tango. The dance enjoys worldwide popularity, and is performed in different social contexts such as regular competitions and public or invitational dance events.
- Origins –
The basics of modern dance have been laid in 18th and 19th Century England. The dances before then were performed with respect to popular traditions and dancers performed before the king’s throne. Starting from the 19th Century, however, with a relaxation of the label, the dancers could now dance in squares or circles across the room and face the sovereign only on formal occasions.
- Dissemination and development –
The ballroom dance underwent significant changes and developments during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While the dance had previously been familiar with the elite social class, the working class and bourgeois approached and the dance made its way into public ballrooms. Several great dance dances developed during this period such as the polka and the waltz dance. These dances were considered revolutionary at their inception, due to their close embrace required. The waltz dance allowed the independent movement of the couples and this feature became significant for modern dance. At the beginning of the 20th Century, many other ballroom dances emerged such as the Tango from Latin America, the Cha-Cha of Cuba, the Brazilian Samba and the American swing. Another development was the emergence of musical genres such as jazz that provided the rhythm for dancers. The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing was founded in 1904 as a ballroom dancing council, charged with standardizing techniques for emerging dance competitions around the world. All these factors have contributed significantly to the diffusion and development of ballroom dancing.
- Notable professionals –
As ballroom dancing became increasingly popular in films and competitions in the first half of the 20th Century, many of the best dancers of the time greatly influenced its growing popularity. On-screen dance by partners Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in the 1930s showed dance in different social contexts and promoted the spread of dance. The work of the partners was partly influenced by the team of husband and wife ballroom of Irene and Vernon Castle, who appeared dancing in the silent films of the first 20th Century.
- Greater importance and inheritance –
Ballroom dancing has evolved to be much more than a dance. Rather, it has become an element of cultural identity. Various forms of ballroom dancing have been taken care of to preserve culture and music. Dance represents a fusion of contemporary and popular influences. With its many varieties practiced all over the world, ballroom dancing remains one of the most important world dances.