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Ballroom Dance: History and Characteristics

Ballroom dances are performed in pairs in social gatherings as well as on competitive stages. Different types of dances are included in this ballroom dance and they are fox-trot, waltz, polka, tango, Charleston, jitterbug, and merengue (Ballroom dance, 2009) and their styles are also different. It was usually performed for pastimes and it’s a spirited sport too. In ancient times these ballroom dances appeared in certain kinds of rituals. (Heskin, 2009).

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It was initiated in England at the end of the18th and the beginning of the 19th century. It was seen that mainly the people from the upper-class community participated in this in the late 18th century but in the 19th and at the beginning of 20th century even the working-class community became good participants in this performance and it gained popularity all over the world and with all kinds of people. It is through this dance the couples can share their deep affection with each other.

It can be seen that the ballroom dance is very majestic in its look. “In fact, the history of ballroom dancing tells that the dances tend to appear “royal” because they were performed in royal courts in Western Europe.” (Jamie, 2008, para.6). It not only includes waltz but it’s a mixture of Fox Trot, Jive, Tango, lindy, Charleston, and so on. Waltz had its origin in Austria; Fox Trot was first introduced in America and Tango in Argentina. Even though the names are different they all are in the ballroom dance group. So, it is well known all over the world. It became more popular nowadays as this performance can be seen throughout stage shows, television and films too. There is no age limit for this performance as even the old couples enjoy it for their recreation.

The modern ballroom dance is different from the old in its rhythm, but the same thing which never changes is its form that the couples who perform this dance are in a close hold. The physical contact between them will be there but it is only between the upper and lower part of the body. If the dancing partners have attentiveness in steps, their performance will be an attractive one. There are different steps in this ballroom dancing and it is performed according to the music and the steps will change when the music changes. In this present era, the name ballroom dance is applied to all types of dances that are performed by pairs and have physical contact between them. These types of dances are seen mainly at parties. The way of performance is altering according to change of the culture. The main advantage of this dance performance is that it is helpful for both physical and mental well-being.

Ballroom dances appear in two different styles; one is the American style and the other is the International style. (Ballroom dance, n.d.). There is a difference in their style as in American ballroom dance the partners make a close position while in the other style, the partners make an open position between the two. Ballroom dances are included in the competition too and for the competition, both the American style and international style are included. In the earlier times, ballroom dance was not admitted to the contest. With the hard work of a group of dance teachers “(formerly known as The Imperial Society of Dance Teachers).” (Leetham, 2009, para.4) this dancing performance became a popular one for the competitive level. In the competition, the dancers give much concern to their costumes too. The dressing style of women is full grown and that of men is bow tie and coat. There is a certain time limit for each dance and for making it better the dance should be completed within the given time limit. It can be seen that recently it has been admitted as a sporting event in Olympics.

Ballroom dance was performed by pairs in all social gatherings, and later, the competition was also conducted on this dance. So, there are many artists associated with this as the opportunity is high.” Ballroom dance was popularized by Vernon and Irene Castle and Fred Astaire and, later, by Arthur Murray (1895 – 1991), who established ballroom dance studios throughout the US. Ballroom dance contests, especially popular in Europe, feature both amateur and professional dancers.” (Ballroom dance, 2009, Britannica concise encyclopedia: Ballroom dance, para.1). As ballroom dance became very well known in every place, along with the dance the artists also became famous which raised their lifestyle. Not only the dancers but the musicians, producers, costumers, choreographers, and all others related to this genre also grew to be famous very soon. Lindy is popular in ballroom dance along with Charleston. The famous dancer named Frankie manning introduced the first air step in Lindy.

Very talented and experienced artists worked in the ballroom dance, and as a result, the show happened to be magnificent and all the audience enjoyed it. The ballroom dance became well known all over the world after it became a competition event and when the new rhythmic style of music was developed. One of the famous ballroom dancers is Drew and he is famous for his step-by-step ballroom dancing, and for the viewers or those who want to study this dance, his step-by-step instructions are very helpful. Music plays an important role in ballroom dance; so the popular African American music composer Ellington became famous very quickly in the 20th century. With his collaboration, an orchestra group was formed and many excellent artists became a part of it. Until his death, he showed miracles in his jazz music and received many awards for his performances. James Johnson, who is the same as Ellington was also a famous African American composer-cum-pianist. Jonathan Marion is one of the most famous ballroom dancers. There were many dancers in his group and they conducted many astonishing programs all over the world. Even in this century, he is known by everyone. (Famous musicians of the Harlem Renaissance, 2009). The programs led by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers greatly influenced the American people when it was telecasted in television. There was a good musical group along with their program to make the presentation an exciting one. And the music was mainly composed by well-known composers of the period like Irving Berlin and George Gershwin. (Ballroom dance, 2009).

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Ballroom dance is totally different from other dances which influenced people’s minds and bodies in the same way. This dance is seen mainly in Europe, UK, the US, etc which changed their performance, culture, and dressing style showing modern life. Ballroom dance provides a depiction of the living culture of people which they are doing for enjoyment and belonging with the people. (Marion, 2009).

As ballroom dance became famous, dance classes and competitions are conducted on this.

While it was telecasted on TV, it became more famous which influenced the people from low-class society and they started performing which was earlier seen only in high-class society. This dance is performed according to the rhythm of the music which makes the feel of romance in people and through this dancing, the couple expresses their love and affection towards each other. The music of ballroom dance makes the people passionate that is essential for the muscular movements in support of dancing. “Everything that is correct and desirable in a marriage or relationship exists on the ballroom dance floor.” (Allen, 2002, p.25, para.2).

In most wedding receptions ballroom dance is performed and the primary dancing of couples is very important which makes more passionate among them and also makes the function more pleasurable and enjoyable. In this modern era, as this dance is performed on most occasions there are lots of opportunities to dance. Society believes that the lifestyle can be improved once the dance is studied. If the people are very shy they will be neglected by the community. So, in order to build their confidence for attending any social functions, they practice ballroom dance. Even though ballroom dance influences people a lot, some of them hate it, mainly those who do not know how to dance. Occasionally, this dance is performed with somebody else instead of a partner; so people feel wrong and hesitate to do ballroom dance. But, one can say that in the modern age ballroom dance has become an unavoidable one in any social gathering.

Reference List

Allen, J. (2002). The complete idiot’s guide to ballroom dancing. Alpha Books.

Ballroom dance. (2009). Answers.com.

Ballroom dance: Britannica concise encyclopedia: Ballroom dance. (2009). Answers.com. Web.

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Ballroom dance. (2009). New World Encyclopedia.

Ballroom dance. (n.d.). USA Dance Chicagoland. Web.

Famous musicians of the Harlem Renaissance. (2009). Buzzle.com: Intelligent Life on the Web. Web.

Heskin, N. (2009). The history of ballroom dance: From prehistoric ritual to modern competition. Suite101.com: The Genuine Article, Literally. Web.

Jamie. (2008). The real history of ballroom dancing. How to Dance Like Star. Web.

Leetham, C. (2009). Ballroom dancing – a brief history. Ezine Articles.

Marion, J S. (2009). Ballroom: Culture and costume in competitive dance. BERG. Web.

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