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A Brief History of Modern Ballroom Dancing

The history and development of Modern Ballroom Dancing with regard to Waltz, Foxtrot, Onestep and Quickstep started after the first World War of 1914-1918. The Tango had been introduced to England much earlier in 1913. The Popular music both during and after the first World War has changed and developed considerably from the previous style of popular music. The composers of Waltz's were writing romantic ballads which were played at a much slower tempo than the previous style of Waltz's. On the other hand bright and happy ragtime music was inspiring the dancers to develop lively movements, some of which were not considered to be socially acceptable. As a result of the chaotic situation and to obatin some standardization Mr. Philip Richardson, the editor of the dancing times, in 1920 called the first conference of ballroom teachers. This conference resulted in standarizing a minimum number of figures in Onestep (later to become Quickstep), Waltz, Tango and Foxtrot. The development continued throughout the 20's and 30's. Ballroom Dancing as a social form has now become the most popular form of entertainment. We have to thank our pioneers for setting the foundation, style, movement and character of our superb modern Ballroom Dancing on such a sound basis of technique.

Ballroom
  Waltz
The Waltz was standardized with a closing of the feet on the third beat of the bar with a controlled rise and fall to illustrate the swingboat character of the music and the figuration was danced in a diagonal pattern around the room.
  Foxtrot
The Foxtrot was now based on four standard figures: the Walk, Three Step, Natual Turn and Reverse Turn. The development of this dance concentrated on the classical style with fluent continuity and control of movement over the dance floor.
  Quickstep
The quicker version of the Foxtrot, renamed the Quickstep, was based on the closed turns of the Waltz and the open turns of the Foxtrot. The brightness of the music was portrayed in the variety of choreography in the dance.
 

Tango
The Tango, which has been introduced much earlier in the century, has a character and an atomsphere which was nearer to the exciting Latin type of music and dancing. Originally introduced with a feline type of action it retained its drama and also developed into a sharp, staccato dance character.

 
Latin
  Cha-Cha
The cha-cha-cha is unusual as dance music genres go in that its creation can be attributed to a single composer (Orovio 1981:130). In 1951, Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrin introduced the cha-cha-cha to Cuban dance floors while playing with Orquesta America. According to Jorrin, the sound made by the shoes of the dancers on the floor sounded like "cha-cha-cha", while they tired to follow the new rhythm that, at the beginning, was simply called "mambo-rumba". In 1953, his La Enganadora and Silver Star became recorded hits. In early days, this dance and its music were both known as "triple mambo" or "mambo with guiro rhythm". 'Cha-Cha' is the name of a small cowbell which kept the dancers in time and made a 'cha' sound (like a metronome). When dancing the cha-cha very small steps are needed because of its rhythm. A huge variety of fancy footwork can be added to the dance. The cha-cha includes a lot of hip montion. Even though the cha-cha uses smaller steps, dancers in competitions usually make their movement slightly longer to travel across the floors. The Cha-Cha became hugely popular in the United States as did the mambo in the 1950's. Dancers began inventing new steps and turns to win competitions.
  Rumba
Rumba arose in Havana in the 1890s. Rumba was often suppressed and restricted because it was viewed as dangerous and lewd. Rumba is thought to have contributed to the origin of the cha-cha-cha, and indeed most figures (if not all, somehow) can be reinterpreted in cha-cha-cha. Traditional belief holds that the Rumba was originally contrived within the Afro-Cuban population in Cuba. American Style Rumba is characterized by the Latin montion (sometimes called Cuban motion or hip sway) arising from a knee being bent, as opposed to the straight leg style used in International. Additionally, the same move in terms of footwork often goes by a different name in American versus International.
  Samba
Samba is one of the most popular forms of music in Brazil. It is widely viewed as Brazil's national musical style. Samba's roots come to Africa, namely Angola, where the dance semba was predecessor of samba. Samba developed as a distinctive kind of music at the beginning of the 20th century in Rio de Janeiro (then the capital of Brazil) under the strong influence of immigrant black people from the Brazilian state of Bahia. The title "samba school" ("escola de samba") originates from samba's formative years. The term was adopted by larger groups of samba performers in a attempt to lend acceptance of samba and its performance; local campuses were often the practice/performance grounds for these musicians and "escola" gave early performers a sense of legitimacy and organization to offset samba's somewhat controversial social atmosphere.
 

Paso Doble
Paso Doble or pasodoble is a lively style of dance to the duple meter march-like pasodoble music. It actually originated in France [1], but is modeled after the sound, drama, and movement of the Spanish bullfight. Paso doble means "two step" in Spanish. Pasodoble is based on music played at bullfights during the bullfighters' entrance (paseo) or during the passes (faena) just before the kill. The leader of this dance plays the part of the matador. The follower generally plays the part of the matador's cape, but can also represent the bull or a flamenco dancer in some figures. Ballroom Paso Doble, like Samba, is a progressive International Latin dance. The Paso Doble is the Latin dance most resembling the International Standard style, in that forward steps are taken with the heel lead, the frame is wider and more strictly kept up, and there is significantly different and less hip movement.

  Jive
Jive is a dance style in 4/4 rhythm that originated among African-Americans in the early 1940s. It is a lively and uninhibited variation of the Jitterbug, i.e., belongs to Swing dances. In Ballroom dancing, Jive is one of the five International Latin dances. In competition it is danced at a speed of 44 bars per minute, otherwise at between 32 and 40 bpm. Jive is a term for a dance that evolved out of diverse related forerunners of African-American origin. Amongst them are the Lindy Hop from the thirties, Blues Swing, Boogie-Woogie from the forties, the Jitterbug followed by Rock'n'roll in the fifties. American soldiers brought these dances to Europe around 1940, where they swiftly found a following among the young. After the war the boogie became the dominant form for popular music. However, it was never far from criticism as a foreign, vulgar dance. The famous ballroom dancing guru, Alex Moore, said that he had "never seen anything uglier". English instructors developed the elegant and lively Jive, danced to slightly slower music. In 1968 it was adopted as the fifth Latin American dance in competitions.

 

 
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