Ballroom dance
Overview
 
Ballroom dance refers to a set of partner dance
Partner dance
Partner dances are dances whose basic choreography involves coordinated dancing of two partners, as opposed to individuals dancing alone or individually in a non-coordinated manner, and as opposed to groups of people dancing simultaneously in a coordinated manner.In the year 1023 the German poet...

s, which are enjoyed both socially
Social dance
Social dance is a major category or classification of danceforms or dance styles, where sociability and socializing are the primary focuses of the dancing...

 and competitively around the world. Because of its performance and entertainment aspects, ballroom dance is also widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television.

Ballroom dance may refer, at its widest, to almost any type of social dancing as recreation. However, with the emergence of dancesport
DanceSport
Dancesport denotes competitive ballroom dancing, as contrasted to social or exhibition dancing. It is wheelchair dancesport where at least one of the dancers is in a wheelchair....

 in modern times, the term has become narrower in scope.
Encyclopedia
Ballroom dance refers to a set of partner dance
Partner dance
Partner dances are dances whose basic choreography involves coordinated dancing of two partners, as opposed to individuals dancing alone or individually in a non-coordinated manner, and as opposed to groups of people dancing simultaneously in a coordinated manner.In the year 1023 the German poet...

s, which are enjoyed both socially
Social dance
Social dance is a major category or classification of danceforms or dance styles, where sociability and socializing are the primary focuses of the dancing...

 and competitively around the world. Because of its performance and entertainment aspects, ballroom dance is also widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television.

Ballroom dance may refer, at its widest, to almost any type of social dancing as recreation. However, with the emergence of dancesport
DanceSport
Dancesport denotes competitive ballroom dancing, as contrasted to social or exhibition dancing. It is wheelchair dancesport where at least one of the dancers is in a wheelchair....

 in modern times, the term has become narrower in scope. It usually refers to the International Standard and International Latin style dances (see dance categories below). These styles were developed in England, and are now regulated by the World Dance Council
World Dance Council
The World Dance Council Ltd , is a registered limited company, and the legal successor to the International Council of Ballroom Dancing, and was established at a meeting organised by P.J.S Richardson on 22 September 1950 in Edinburgh...

 (WDC). In the United States, two additional variations are popular: American Smooth and American Rhythm.

There are also a number of historical dances, and local or national dances, which may be danced in ballrooms or salons. Sequence dancing, in pairs or other formations, is still a popular style of ballroom dance.

Definitions and history

The term 'ballroom dancing' is derived from the word ball
Ball (dance)
A ball is a formal dance. The word 'ball' is derived from the Latin word "ballare", meaning 'to dance'; the term also derived into "bailar", which is the Spanish and Portuguese word for dance . In Catalan it is the same word, 'ball', for the dance event.Attendees wear evening attire, which is...

, which in turn originates from the Latin word ballare which means 'to dance' (a ballroom being a large room specially designed for such dances). In times past, ballroom dancing was social dancing
Social dance
Social dance is a major category or classification of danceforms or dance styles, where sociability and socializing are the primary focuses of the dancing...

 for the privileged, leaving folk dancing for the lower classes. These boundaries have since become blurred, and it should be noted even in times long gone, many ballroom dances were really elevated folk dances. The definition of ballroom dance also depends on the era: balls have featured popular dances of the day such as the Minuet
Minuet
A minuet, also spelled menuet, is a social dance of French origin for two people, usually in 3/4 time. The word was adapted from Italian minuetto and French menuet, and may have been from French menu meaning slender, small, referring to the very small steps, or from the early 17th-century popular...

, Quadrille
Quadrille
Quadrille is a historic dance performed by four couples in a square formation, a precursor to traditional square dancing. It is also a style of music...

, Polonaise
Polonaise
The polonaise is a slow dance of Polish origin, in 3/4 time. Its name is French for "Polish."The polonaise had a rhythm quite close to that of the Swedish semiquaver or sixteenth-note polska, and the two dances have a common origin....

, Polka
Polka
The polka is a Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia...

, Mazurka
Mazurka
The mazurka is a Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo, and with accent on the third or second beat.-History:The folk origins of the mazurek are two other Polish musical forms—the slow machine...

, and others, which are now considered to be historical dance
Historical dance
Historical dance is a collective term covering a wide variety of dance types from the past as they are danced in the present....

s.

Renaissance Period

The first authoritative knowledge of the earliest ballroom dances were recorded toward the end of the 16th century, when Jehan Tabourot, under the pen name "Thoinot-Arbeau
Thoinot Arbeau
Thoinot Arbeau is the anagrammatic pen name of French cleric Jehan Tabourot . Tabourot is most famous for his Orchésographie, a study of late sixteenth-century French Renaissance social dance...

", published in 1588 his Orchésographie, a study of late 16th-century French renaissance social dance. Among the dances described were the solemn basse danse
Basse danse
The basse danse, or "low dance", was the most popular court dance in the 15th and early 16th centuries, especially at the Burgundian court, often in a combination of 6/4 and 3/2 time allowing for use of hemiola...

, the livelier branle
Branle
A branle l)—also bransle, brangle, brawl, brawle, brall, braul, or brantle —or brainle—is a 16th-century French dance style which moves mainly from side to side, and is performed by couples in either a line or a circle.The word is derived from the French verb branler , possibly related to brander...

, pavane
Pavane
The pavane, pavan, paven, pavin, pavian, pavine, or pavyn is a slow processional dance common in Europe during the 16th century .A pavane is a slow piece of music which is danced to in pairs....

, and the galliarde which Shakespeare called the "cinq pace" as it was made of five steps.
In 1650 the Minuet
Minuet
A minuet, also spelled menuet, is a social dance of French origin for two people, usually in 3/4 time. The word was adapted from Italian minuetto and French menuet, and may have been from French menu meaning slender, small, referring to the very small steps, or from the early 17th-century popular...

, originally a peasant dance of Poitou
Poitou
Poitou was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers.The region of Poitou was called Thifalia in the sixth century....

, was introduced into Paris and set to music by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste de Lully was an Italian-born French composer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered the chief master of the French Baroque style. Lully disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period. He became a French subject in...

 and danced by the King Louis XIV in public, and would continue to dominate ballroom from that time until the close of the 18th century.

Toward the latter half of the 17th century, Louis XIV founded his 'Académie Royale de Musique et de Danse
Académie Royale de Musique
The Salle Le Peletier was the home of the Paris Opera from 1821 until the building was destroyed by fire in 1873. The theatre was designed and constructed by the architect François Debret on the site of the former Hôtel de Choiseul...

', where specific rules for the execution of every dance and the "five positions
Positions of the feet in ballet
The positions of the feet in ballet is a fundamental part of classical ballet technique that defines proper placement of feet on the floor. There are five basic positions of the feet in modern-day classical ballet, known as the first through fifth positions...

" of the feet were formulated for the first time by members of the Académie. Eventually, the first definite cleavage between ballet and ballroom came when professional dancers appeared in the ballets, and the ballets left the Court and went to the stage. Ballet technique such as the turned out
Turnout (ballet)
In ballet, turnout is a rotation of the leg which comes from the hips, causing the knee and foot to turn outward, away from the center of the body. This rotation allows for greater extension of the leg, especially when raising it to the side and rear...

 positions of the feet, however, lingered for over two centuries and past the end of the Victoria era.

Victorian Era

The waltz with its modern hold took root in England in about 1812; in 1819 Carl Maria von Weber
Carl Maria von Weber
Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school....

 wrote Invitation to the Dance
Invitation to the Dance (Weber)
Invitation to the Dance , Op. 65, J. 260, is a piano piece in rondo form written by Carl Maria von Weber in 1819. It is also well known in the 1841 orchestration by Hector Berlioz...

, which marked the adoption of the waltz form into the sphere of absolute music. The dance was initially met with tremendous opposition due to the semblance of impropriety associated with the closed hold, though the stance gradually softened. In the 1840s several new dances made their appearance in the ballroom, including the Polka
Polka
The polka is a Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia...

, Mazurka
Mazurka
The mazurka is a Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo, and with accent on the third or second beat.-History:The folk origins of the mazurek are two other Polish musical forms—the slow machine...

, and the Schottische
Schottische
The schottische is a partnered country dance, that apparently originated in Bohemia. It was popular in Victorian era ballrooms as a part of the Bohemian folk-dance craze and left its traces in folk music of countries such as Argentina , Finland , France, Italy, Norway , Portugal and Brazil , Spain ...

. In the meantime a strong tendency emerged to drop all 'decorative' steps such as entrechats and ronds de jambes that had found a place in the Quadrilles and other dances.

Early 20th century

Modern ballroom dance has its roots early in the 20th century, when several different things happened more or less at the same time. The first was a movement away from the sequence dances towards dances where the couples moved independently. This had been pre-figured by the waltz, which had already made this transition. The second was a wave of popular music, such as jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, much of which was based on the ideas of black musicians in the USA. Since dance is to a large extent tied to music, this led to a burst of newly invented dances. There were many dance crazes in the period 1910–1930.
The third event was a concerted effort to transform some of the dance crazes into dances which could be taught to a wider dance public in the US and Europe. Here Vernon and Irene Castle
Vernon and Irene Castle
Vernon and Irene Castle were a husband-and-wife team of ballroom dancers of the early 20th century. They are credited with invigorating the popularity of modern dancing. Vernon Castle was born William Vernon Blyth in Norwich, Norfolk, England...

 were important, and so was a generation of English dancers in the 1920s, including Josephine Bradley
Josephine Bradley
Josephine Bradley MBE was a ballroom dancer and dance teacher. Though born in Dublin, she was raised from an early age in London, the youngest of eight children. Bradley was among the first ballroom dance professionals of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing who standardised the basic...

 and Victor Silvester
Victor Silvester
Victor Marlborough Silvester OBE was an English dancer, author, musician and dance band leader. He was a significant figure in the development of ballroom dance during the first half of the 20th century, and his records sold 75 million copies from the 1930s through to the 1980s.- Early life...

. These professionals analysed, codified, published and taught a number of standard dances. It was essential, if popular dance was to flourish, for dancers to have some basic movements they could confidently perform with any partner they might meet. Here the huge Arthur Murray
Arthur Murray
Arthur Murray was a dance instructor and businessman, whose name is most often associated with the dance studio chain that bears his name....

 organisation in America, and the dance societies in England, such as the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing is a leading dance teaching and examination board based in London, England and operating internationally. Established on 25 July 1904 as the Imperial Society of Dance Teachers, it changed to its current name in 1925 and is now a registered educational...

, were highly influential. Finally, much of this happened during and after a period of World War, and the effect of such a conflict in dissolving older social customs was considerable.

Later, in the 1930s, the on-screen dance pairing of Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

 and Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers was an American actress, dancer, and singer who appeared in film, and on stage, radio, and television throughout much of the 20th century....

 influenced all forms of dance in the USA and elsewhere. Although both actors had separate careers, their filmed dance sequences together, which included portrayals of the Castles, have reached iconic status. Much of Astaire and Rogers' work portrayed social dancing, although the performances were highly choreographed (often by Astaire or Hermes Pan
Hermes Pan (choreographer)
Hermes Pan was an American dancer and choreographer, principally celebrated as Fred Astaire's choreographic collaborator on the famous 1930s movie musicals starring Astaire and Ginger Rogers.-Early life:...

), and meticulously staged and rehearsed.

Competitive dancing

Competitions, sometimes referred to as Dancesport
DanceSport
Dancesport denotes competitive ballroom dancing, as contrasted to social or exhibition dancing. It is wheelchair dancesport where at least one of the dancers is in a wheelchair....

, range from world championships, regulated by the World Dance Council
World Dance Council
The World Dance Council Ltd , is a registered limited company, and the legal successor to the International Council of Ballroom Dancing, and was established at a meeting organised by P.J.S Richardson on 22 September 1950 in Edinburgh...

 (WDC), to less advanced dancers at various proficiency levels. Most competitions are divided into professional and amateur, though in the USA pro-am competitions typically accompany professional competitions. The International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

 now recognizes competitive
Competitive dance
Competitive dance is a popular, widespread activity in which competitors perform dances in any of several permitted dance styles—such as acro, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, modern, and tap—before a common group of judges...

 ballroom dance. It has recognized another body, the International DanceSport Federation
International DanceSport Federation
The World DanceSport Federation , formerly the International DanceSport Federation , is the international governing body of dancesport and Wheelchair DanceSport, as recognised by the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee .Originally founded in 1957 as the...

 (IDSF), as the sole representative body for dancesport in the Olympic Games. However, it seems doubtful that dance will be included in the Olympic Games, especially in light of efforts to reduce the number of participating sports.

Ballroom dance competitions are regulated by each country in its own way. There are about 30 countries which compete regularly in international competitions. There are another 20 or so countries which have membership of the WDC and/or the IDSF, but whose dancers rarely appear in international competitions. In Britain there is the British Dance Council
British Dance Council
The British Dance Council was formed in 1929 as the Official Board of Ballroom Dancing . The name was subsequently changed in 1985 to the British Council of Ballroom Dancing and in 1996, the name was changed to British Dance Council...

, which grants national and regional championship titles, such as the British Ballroom Championships, the British Sequence Championships
British Sequence Championships
The British Sequence Dance Championships for adults are held annually as part of the Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival and have been running since 1949. This is held in the Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, Blackpool, England. Dancers compete in up to five sequence dances determined by the...

 and the United Kingdom Championships. In the United States, amateur dance proficiency levels are defined by USA Dance
USA Dance
USA Dance, formerly the United States Amateur Ballroom Dance Association , is the official national governing body for DanceSport in the United States. It is recognized as such by the International DanceSport Federation , the U.S. Olympic Committee , and the Amateur Sports Act of the United...

 (formerly United States Amateur Ballroom Dance Association, USABDA).

Ballroom dancing competitions in the former USSR also included the Soviet Ballroom dances
Soviet Ballroom dances
Competitions in Ballroom dancing in the former Soviet Union were held in three dance categories:Standard dances, Latin dances, and Soviet dances .- Soviet category :The Soviet category comprised...

, or Soviet Programme. Australian New Vogue
New Vogue (dance)
The New Vogue dance style is an Australian form of sequence dancing that originated in the 1930s. Since then it has become an important part in the Australian ballroom scene, holding as much importance in social and competition dancing as Latin or International Standard dances.- The Dances :There...

 is danced both competitively and socially. In competition there are 15 recognised New Vogue dances, which are performed by the competitors in sequence. These dance forms are not recognised internationally, neither are the US variations such as American Smooth, and Rhythm. Such variations in dance and competition methods are attempts to meets perceived needs in the local market-place.

Internationally, the Blackpool Dance Festival
Blackpool Dance Festival
The 8-day Blackpool Dance Festival is the world's first and most famous annual ballroom dance competition of international significance, held in the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, England since 1920. It is also the largest ballroom competition: in 2003, 1539 couples from 54...

, hosted annually at Blackpool
Blackpool
Blackpool is a borough, seaside town, and unitary authority area of Lancashire, in North West England. It is situated along England's west coast by the Irish Sea, between the Ribble and Wyre estuaries, northwest of Preston, north of Liverpool, and northwest of Manchester...

, England, is considered the most prestigious event a dancesport competitor can attend.

Formation dance
Formation dance
Formation dance is a style of ballroom dancing. It is pattern or shadow team dancing by couples in a formation team. The choreography may be based on a particular dance or a medley of dances...

 is another style of competitive dance recognised by the IDSF. In this style, multiple dancers (usually in couples and typically up to 16 dancers at one time) compete on the same team, moving in and out of various formations while dancing.

Elements of competition

In competition ballroom, dancers are judged by diverse criteria such as poise, the hold or frame, posture, musicality and expression, timing, body alignment and shape, floor craft, foot and leg action, and presentation. Judging in a performance-oriented sport is inevitably subjective in nature, and controversy and complaints by competitors over judging placements are not uncommon. The scorekeepers—called scrutineers—will tally the total number recalls accumulated by each couple through each round until the finals, when the Skating system
Skating system
The Skating system is a method of compiling scores in ballroom dance competitions. It was introduced by the British Official Board of Ballroom Dancing in 1937...

 is used to place each couple by ordinals, typically 1–6, though the number of couples in the final may vary.

Medal tests

Medal examinations for amateurs enable dancers' individual abilities to be recognized according to conventional standards. In medal exams, which are run by bodies such as the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing is a leading dance teaching and examination board based in London, England and operating internationally. Established on 25 July 1904 as the Imperial Society of Dance Teachers, it changed to its current name in 1925 and is now a registered educational...

 (ISTD), each dancer performs two or more dances in a certain genre in front of a judge. Genres such as Modern Ballroom or Latin are the most popular. Societies such as the ISTD also offer medal tests on other dance styles (such as Country & Western, Rock 'n Roll or Tap). In some North American examinations, levels include Newcomer, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Championship; each level may be further subdivided into either two or four separate sections.

Dances

"Ballroom dance" refers most often to the ten dances of International Ballroom (or Standard) and International Latin, though the term is also often used interchangeably with the five International Ballroom dances. Sequence dancing, which is danced predominantly in the United Kingdom, is also sometimes included as a type of Ballroom dancing.

In the United States and Canada, the American Style (American Smooth and American Rhythm) also exists. The dance technique used for both International and American styles is similar, but International Ballroom allows only closed dance positions, whereas American Smooth allows closed, open and separated dance movements. In addition, different sets of dance figures are usually taught for the two styles. International Latin and American Rhythm have different styling, and have different dance figures in their respective syllabi.

Others dances sometimes placed under the umbrella "ballroom dance" include Nightclub Dance
Nightclub dance
In a wider sense, the term nightclub dance, or club dance, is used in the meaning of disco dance .In a narrower sense, especially in the context of dance competitions, the term nightclub dance is used to denote a group of social partner dances less formalized than ballroom dance, but more...

s such as Lindy Hop
Lindy Hop
The Lindy Hop is an American social dance, from the swing dance family. It evolved in Harlem, New York City in the 1920s and '30s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based...

, West Coast Swing
West Coast Swing
West Coast Swing is a partner dance with roots in Lindy Hop. It is characterized by a distinctive elastic look that results from its basic extension-compression technique of partner connection, and is danced primarily in a slotted area on the dance floor...

, Nightclub Two Step
Nightclub Two Step
Nightclub Two Step was initially developed by Buddy Schwimmer in the mid-1960s. The dance is also known as "Two Step" and was "one of the most popular forms of contemporary social dance" as a Disco Couples Dance in 1978...

, Hustle
Hustle (dance)
The Hustle is a catchall name for several disco dances which were extremely popular in the 1970s. Today it mostly refers to the unique partner dance done in ballrooms and nightclubs to disco music. It has some features in common with swing dance. Its basic steps are somewhat similar to the...

, Salsa
Salsa (dance)
Salsa is a syncretic dance form with origins in Cuba as the meeting point of Spanish and African cultures.Salsa is normally a partner dance, although there are recognized solo forms such as solo dancing "suelta" and "Rueda de Casino" where multiple couples exchange partners in a circle...

, and Merengue
Merengue (dance)
Merengue El camino1ro de Secundaria-In popular culture:* Merengue was mentioned as a song performed between Babs and Charlie in the song by Steely Dan....

.
The categorization of dances as "ballroom dances" has always been fluid, with new dances or folk dances being added to or removed from the ballroom repertoire from time to time, so no list of subcategories or dances is any more than a description of current practices. There are other dances historically accepted as ballroom dances, and are revived via the Vintage dance
Vintage dance
Vintage dance is the authentic recreation of historical dance styles. The term is also used specifically to denote re-creation of the dances of the English Regency , American Civil War , Victorian, and Ragtime eras....

 movement.

In Europe, Latin Swing dances include Argentine Tango
Argentine Tango
Argentine tango is a musical genre of simple quadruple metre and binary musical form, and the social dance that accompanies it. Its lyrics and music are marked by nostalgia, expressed through melodic instruments including the bandoneon. Originated at the ending of the 19th century in the suburbs of...

, Mambo
Mambo (dance)
Mambo .In the late 1940s, Perez Prado came up with the dance for the mambo music and became the first person to market his music as "mambo". After Havana, Prado moved his music to Mexico, where his music and the dance was adopted. The original mambo dance was characterized by freedom and...

, Lindy Hop
Lindy Hop
The Lindy Hop is an American social dance, from the swing dance family. It evolved in Harlem, New York City in the 1920s and '30s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based...

, Swing Boogie (sometimes also known as Nostalgic Boogie), and Disco Fox. One example of this is the subcategory of Cajun dances that originated in New Orleans, with branches reaching both coasts of the United States.

Ballroom/Smooth dances are normally danced to Western music (often from the mid-twentieth century), and couples dance counter-clockwise around a rectangular floor following the line of dance. In competitions, competitors are costumed as would be appropriate for a white tie
White tie
White tie is the most formal evening dress code in Western fashion. It is worn to ceremonial occasions such as state dinners in some countries, as well as to very formal balls and evening weddings...

 affair, with full gowns for the ladies and bow tie
Bow tie
The bow tie is a type of men's necktie. It consists of a ribbon of fabric tied around the collar in a symmetrical manner such that the two opposite ends form loops. Ready-tied bow ties are available, in which the distinctive bow is sewn into shape and the band around the neck incorporates a clip....

 and tail coats for the men; though in American Smooth it is now conventional for the men to abandon the tailsuit in favor of shorter tuxedos, vests, and other creative outfits.

Latin/Rhythm dances are commonly danced to contemporary Latin American music, and, with the exception of a few traveling dances (for example,, Samba
Samba (ballroom)
Among ballroom dances, samba is a lively, rhythmical one. It is related to the traditional samba styles of Brazil, but differs from them considerably. Its music is in 2/4 or 4/4 time.-Origins:...

 and Paso Doble), couples do not follow the line of dance but perform their routines more or less in one spot. In competitions, the women are often dressed in short-skirted latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 outfits while the men are outfitted in tight-fitting shirts and pants, the goal being to emphasize the dancers' leg action and body movements.
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