Encyclopedia of Dance: Ballroom Dancing


Ballroom dancing is entertainment and emotionality, incendiary and elegant romance, a demonstration of skill and spectacular performance of the most complex steps.

Ballroom dancing refers to a group of pair dances that are performed by a man and a woman at balls, evenings, competitions, usually on the floor. In dance schools, ballroom dancing is considered one of the most emotional and romantic styles.

History of occurrence

The word «ball» is of French origin and, in turn, goes back to the Latin ballare, which means «to dance.» Ballroom dances were secular dances with folk-historical roots and performed by the nobility during festivities, celebrations and balls.

In each era, the set of dances that were preferred during balls changed. Basically, the nature of ballroom dancing, which is characteristic of them at the present time, took shape in England in the period from the end of the 18th to the 19th centuries. Being a privilege of high society, ballroom dancing was performed during dance parties at receptions in high circles.

It was not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that ballroom dancing lost its elitism and began to be performed at public assemblies and in public dance halls. At the same time, Latin American and African traditions penetrated European dance culture, which significantly changed the visual and rhythmic range, not to mention the peculiarities of movements. European dances were enriched by the special sensuality of Latin American dance culture and the originality of African dances. Skillful polishing of the European school did not destroy the original roots, but only gave them elegance and grace.

The emergence of the Ballroom Dancing Council in England in the 20s of the last century led to the fact that such dances as waltz and tango, fast and slow foxtrot were standardized, competitions were held according to a special program, and ballroom dancing was divided into sports and social. In the future, in addition to the European one, another program arose that included five Latin American dances. For the competitions, those dances were selected in the programs, which were both interesting for their emotional and rhythmic musical accompaniment, and with the help of which it was possible to create a unique and original artistic image.

In connection with the emergence and increased popularity of dances performed individually, ballroom dancing was gradually forced out of social dance floors and began to exist mainly as sports.

ballroom dancing

What is ballroom dancing?

Currently, the dance world holds competitions in three programs: European (Standart or Modern), Latin American (Latin) and the so-called «top ten», which combines the previous ones.

The Standard includes:

slow waltz


slow foxtrot

quickstep (fast foxtrot)

viennese waltz

All dances are performed counterclockwise in a circle (along the line of dance).

The Latin American program consists of:




paso doble


The movement of dancers around the site is limited, often with a return to the starting point.

Features of ballroom dancing

The main feature of ballroom dancing is that they are all pair dances (a man and a woman dance). All dances are performed while respecting the points of contact. If in the European program the contact should be tight and maintained throughout the dance, then in the Latin American program it is more free, often remaining only at the level of the hands.

There are special requirements for the clothes of performers. For the European program, men wear tailcoats and a bow tie, women wear long ball gowns. For Latin American: women — in short, open and tight dresses, men — in tight suits.

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