The Wide World of Ballroom Dance

The Wide World of Ballroom Dance

On Friday night I decided to take a tango class. I was lucky that the teacher was willing to dance with me since I didn’t bring a partner… It was that draw of romance, passion and partnering that drew me there. A few couples came to learn and I noticed how delighted and alert they looked while they perfected their dance together. I observed the couples gazing in each others eyes, and moving in perfect opposition yet in sync. After a few basic movement displays, I picked it up and found myself being swept away by my partner’s knowledge of the language. He knew where to go next, and he knew how to move me; he just required my trust and my “letting go”. There was something so seductive about it: the passionate movement, the trust it required, and the flow it brought. I was hooked…

Tango, and Ballroom Dance in general have swept dance lovers worldwide. We see ballroom dancing coming out of the closet, and taken backout for a spin. There is something about the sleek movement, the bright and beautiful costumes mixed with the homegrown factor and the sociability and of it that makes ballroom look so tempestuous yet achievable!

Ballroom was derived from folk dancing and was always defined by the era in which it was created. Historically, ballroom was an un-choreographed type of popular dancing which required a “leader” and a “follower” as well as partner contact.

Though Ballroom Dancing does refer to any form of social dancing, some relate it directly to Dancesport which is a ballroom competition organization. We have a wide variety of ballroom dance competitions today, all stemming from the originator Dancesport which is categorized as follows:

INTERNATIONAL STYLE

International Standard
Slow Waltz
Tango
Slow Foxtrot
Quickstep
Viennese Waltz

International Latin
Cha Cha
Samba
Rumba
Paso Doble
Jive

American Style

American Smooth
Waltz
Tango
Foxtrot
Viennese Waltz

American Rhythm
Cha Cha
Rumba
East Coast Swing
Bolero
Mambo

These competitive ballroom styles are well known today due to televised competitions as well as shows such as Dancing with the Stars. This FOX show couples celebrities with seasoned ballroom dancers, who train and perform until the couples are narrowed down to the “winner” of the competition.

This show as well as a handful of movies such as Strictly Ballroom, Dirty Dancing, Lambada, Saturday Night Fever, Footloose, Shall We Dance?, Swing Kids, and Stepping Out (among many others) caused ballroom to gain popularity throughout the years.

Before ballroom found itself in the competition, television/film and stage circuit, it was merely a social type of dance that the general public created and enjoyed. Each style of ballroom dances had a set step of patterns which dance couples freely used in their own freestyle dances. A lot of ballroom dancing found it’s way into nightclubs and social events around the country:

Historical Folk Ballroom

Waltz
Polka
Tango
Foxtrot
Schottische

General Latin

Salsa
Merengue
Samba
Bachata
Cha Cha
Mambo
Bolero
Paso Doble
Argentine Tango
Forro
Samba
Milonga
Lambada
Pagode
Habanera

Nightclub/Other

Hustle
Swing
Lindy Hop
Disco
Two-step Country
Charleston
Shimmy
Twist
Square Dancing

There are so many styles, and variations of styles coming from various backgrounds, competition standards, and the even coming from the nightclub scene. Each style continues to evolve and to be adopted by dancers worldwide. Ballroom was once just that: a room where the “ball” or the dance would be held.

Ballroom has always been a social and fun way to bring people together as well as create beautiful displays of movement and lifting. Today we continue the ballroom dance craze more then ever and bring it to new levels like history has never seen before. If you don’t “get” the craze, then take a tango class for starters, you might just fall in love.

photo credit: deternitydx via photopin cc

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