A highly stylised form of dance danced throughout western countries. Dating from the period 1730-1800.

The five ballroom dances: Modern Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Slow Foxtrot, and Quickstep, are danced the world over both socially and in DanceSport competitions.

The word 'ballroom' denotes a room where balls may be held: that is: formal social dances. Balls were important social events in the days before radio and television (as in 'having a ball'). The word 'ball' derives from the Latin 'balare' meaning 'to dance'. This is also the origin of the related words : ballet, ballerina, ballad, etc. Note that this origin is quite different from that of a 'ball': a round object used for games. This derives from the Old Norse : 'bollr', meaning 'to inflate'.

The figures in the modern ballroom dances have now been standardised and categorised into various levels for teaching, with internationally agreed vocabularies, techniques, rhythms and tempos. But it was not always so.

These "Standard Ballroom" dances have diverse origins. rhythms, tempos, and aesthetics, but have one thing in common: they are all danced by a couple (usually a man and a lady) in "Closed Hold", maintaining five areas of contact between the partners while performing all the figures of the dances.

Ceroc, Lindy-Hop, Rock-n-Roll and Salsa are not ballroom dances

Actually, in many circles, the term "Ballroom Dance" has come to include all dances where two partners dance together. These do include dances such as the Lindy, Mambo, Salsa and Cha-Cha. But the subdivisions make it clear that the above mentioned dances like Foxtrot, Waltz and Viennese Waltz are called smooth dances and dances like Jive, Mambo, Cha Cha, etc are called Latin dances, even though Jive really shouldn't be considered latin. It wasn't until recently when the term Ballroom Dance was changed to DanceSport which in my opinion is just ridiculous, I've competed throughout almost all my childhood and I still don't think it's a real sport.

Even among those different dances there are subdivisions of style. The two main styles are American Style and International Style.

The international style of dance is what people see on TV on DanceSport competitions. It has been developed and perfected for use in competition. There are compulsory movements one must perform in each division, the divisions being Bronze, Silver and Gold.

What is called American Ballroom is what you would probably see if you went to a ballroom dance school in the US on one of their open nights. Its a much less stylized and rigid form of each dance and it's main purpose is for the enjoyment of the dancers. Although there are many many competitions in American Style Ballroom. American Style competitions also have compulsory movements and are again broken down into the divisions of Bronze, Silver and Gold. I myself have competed in American Style many times and I highly prefer it.

Ball"room` (), n.

A room for balls or dancing.


© Webster 1913.

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