Ballroom Dancing

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Ballroom Dance

Ballroom dance is an international partner dance. The dance is a combination of different steps making up the Foxtrot, Waltz, and Tango. Ballroom is a social dance and a style of competition dance. This dance tradition began in the 1700s and today the young and old find enjoyment in this dance style (New World Encyclopedia, 2009). Traditionally, the couples dress in formal wear of the period. The graceful music and a large dance floor can turn a couple’s dance into a graceful art form.

The popularity of Ballroom dancing is growing because of film and stage performances. As the public sees the grace and elegance of this dance style, more people are finding dance organizations and studios that offer classes. The dance is almost sports like with movements and a performance of the fit. The Olympic Committee is adding Ballroom dance to the dance sport for the 2016 Olympics (New World Encyclopedia, 2009).

Historical Development

Ballroom dancing began in England during the Victorian Era (late 18th and early 19th century) as a form of dance for those in the upper class of society. Dancers usually participated in these dances at balls or parties, which is where the name ballroom dancing originates. The first true ballroom dance was the waltz, and were soon followed by other forms of dance such as polka. While the dances began as fairly simple routines, they would later evolve into more complicated steps as they became more socially acceptable.

As ballroom dancing became more popular during the 20th century, the routines evolved into steps that included more interaction between the two dancers, rather than simply recurring steps which were taken by both dancers. Ballroom dancing quickly took an even stronger grip on the United States when music became very popular, and during the early 20th century many ballroom dance techniques became the latest fad. In the 1920's, many businesses began giving dance lessons, which helped spread these fads even quicker.

In the 1930's, dance began taking place in more and more films, which also helped spur the ballroom dancing movement. Especially important in this movement were the films of Fred Astaire, such as It Happened In Hollywood.

Modern ballroom dancing includes many more high-tech elements, such as lighting and very complex choreography. Many dance competitions now exist for ballroom dancers to compete in, and several are even featured on television. These newer dances are choreographed to demonstrate complex interactions between dancers, giving an entertaining show for audiences more than for the original purpose of ballroom dancing, which was basically courting.

Characteristics of Ballroom Dance

The characteristics that define what is known as ballroom dancing are various and debatable. “Ballroom dance refers to a set of learned partner dances, which are enjoyed socially and engaged in competitively around the globe. Any of the various social dances, such as the fox trot, tango, or waltz, in which couples follow a conventional pattern of steps, is considered a ballroom dance” (New World Encyclopedia, 2010). The first characteristic about ballroom dancing is that it evolves with time. As new dances become popular, they are added to the list of genres of what is considered a ballroom dance. One of the earliest forms of ballroom dancing is the waltz, which came about in the early nineteenth century. In the early part of the twentieth century, new forms of dance became popular and were added to the list, some of these examples are the fox trot, tango and the two step. The nineteen fifties introduced rock and roll; therefore, new variations of the swing became a form of ballroom dance. The nineteen seventies, eighties, and nineties introduce disco and various forms of line dancing, although these dances fit the definition of ballroom dance, it is debatable if these types...
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