The Ballroom Dance

Ballroom dance is a set of dances that are enjoyed around the world. They can be performed socially, or the great performers can enter competitions on both a domestic and international scale. The ballroom dance was one of the first organized dances to be performed and it has led to every other dance that has performed since ballroom first emerged.

Ballroom dancing emerged as a way the higher social classes could enjoy balls. The lower classes would dance to folk music, but the privileged needed to express themselves in a more formal manner; they would often be dressed up, so the composition of the dance needed to reflect their restrictive attire.

The early dances were performed by the French aristocracy and at the end of the 17th century Louis XIV founded the “Academie Royale de Musique et de Danse”. It was here that the first basic steps of dance were introduced, and dancers emerged from the academy who danced differently from the performers of the ballet.

Fred Astaire performing the foxtrot with Ginger Rogers

The introduction of the waltz came at the start of the 19th century and this was the first time that partners held each other close while dancing. A slightly quicker version of the foxtrot emerged soon after, and it was called the Viennese Waltz.

As music evolved from this point, so did dancing, with new dances being created that reflect the nature of the country where the dance had originated. This was especially true with Latin dances that would also be a reflection of the mood of the people.

As music genres started to change, the dances that accompanied them did as well, and one of the biggest influences was jazz music that started to appear in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. The Foxtrot, the Charleston and the Quick Step all became part of ballroom dancing and these new exciting dances attracted more people into partaking in them.

The Jive became popular during the 1940s

As these more standard dances became popular, so too did the Latin alternatives with the Samba, Cha Cha and Paso Doble all emerging creating greater variety of ballroom dances. The last group of dances to appear came as a result of the 1940s swing music, and these included the jive and the east coast swing.

The popularity of these dances gained momentum with the creation and development of television and film. Many of the top actors could also sing and dance. Two of the screens biggest stars were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and their careers flourished as a result of the training they had received as ballroom dancers.

Soon competitions started to appear and in 1950 the World Dance Council was formed which is responsible for organizing world championships in competitive ballroom dancing. There are many events staged each year in different parts of the world and they will vary from standard events to Latin events, or even a combination of both.

Ballroom dancing has proven to be popular on television. “Come Dancing” was a British Ballroom dancing competition that was aired on the BBC from 1950 until 1998. This has now been replaced by “Strictly Come Dancing” which is a show that involves celebrity contestants being accompanied by professional dance partners. It has proved to be one of the most popular shows on television with the highest viewing figures of any program in the country on any of the channels. The popularity of ballroom dancing has grown as a result of this show being aired and this is reflected with the numbers of people joining clubs around the country.