What is it about Ballroom dancing that beats other dancing styles? Is it the classicism, classiness and elegance of the choreography that sees it continue to gain in popularity or is the fact that a new learner can benefit from getting to know a range of International style dances?
Ballet, Country Western Line Dancing and Belly dancing are equally fascinating dance styles, but they don’t offer the level of variety in dance moves that you learn from Ballroom dance programs.
Formal wedding dance lessons tend to promote private dance lessons in Ballroom to give you confidence ahead of your wedding day. These Ballroom dance lessons will take your abilities to the next level, helping you to gracefully move your body to the sensual or romantic music of your choice whilst entertaining the crowd with your very own choreographed bride and groom dance.
Ballroom dances are perfect for your first dance at your wedding. Photo credit: Dmitry Kolesnikov on VisualHunt
If, like many, you consider Ballroom as a type of dancing that is slow, boring and old-fashioned, think again. Ballroom dancing covers a whole range of partner dances, which can be performed as a father-daughter wedding dance, your first dance as a married couple, on Broadway, in nightclubs or in a competition.
Historically, Ballroom dancing was a popular activity for young adults or teens to do to socialise and meet new people, with numerous romances being sparked from catching one another’s eyes across the dance floor. Even now, you don’t have to have a dance partner to enjoy these styles of dancing, as you can pair up with new people in class every week or find a long-term partnership thanks to sharing a class schedule with another passionate dancer like yourself.
Many of you will be familiar with Ballroom dancing as a style because of the popular television shows like Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing With The Stars, which each involve celebrities with no experience of dance education partnering up with a professional dancer of the opposite sex and learning how to dance a new routine each week. The professional dance instructor teaches them new sequences of steps which make up a completely new dance style, so the novice dancers very quickly learn about the art of dance and what differentiates the styles from one another.
As a viewer and fan of a televised dance competition, you may already have heard of the various styles of dance that make up the competitive Ballroom styles category.
The Waltz was originally a country folk dance that emerged from Austria and the Bavarian region back in the 17th century and was only introduced to the UK at the start of the 19th century. It was the first time that the dance world saw a dance performed closely in hold, with little rises and sways and changes in momentum. The upper body faces the left throughout all figures and steps during the Waltz, and the woman’s body leaves the man’s whilst extending her head to follow her elbow.
The Viennese Waltz actually came from France and is one of the oldest Ballroom dances in history. It came to England in the early 1800s, like the Waltz, and became a popular form of ‘old-school’ Ballroom dancing. The music that accompanies it is quite fast, which was originally made famous by Josef and Johann Strauss. Key features of this dance are the body moving towards the inside of the turn, displaying a forward and up position to lengthen the shape. Reverse turns and natural turns are used to travel and go around corners.
The Tango is a modern Argentine dance that came to life in Buenos Aires and involves walking to the music being played. Couples dance this dance with open and closed embraces with the male leading passionately and the pair brushing against one another during the routine. The dance is centred around a connection between the man and woman around the hips.
The Tango involves lots of legwork and brushing past one another during performances. Photo credit: Phototravelography on Visualhunt.com
The Foxtrot is an American dance from the early twentieth century which performer Harry Fox is said to be responsible for. The trotting and stepping dance can be performed at various speeds and tempos and includes the couple facing one another with frame rotations from one side to another and direction changes after each measure. There’s no rise and fall so the walking steps are quite flat.
This English dance was established in the 20th century (the 1920s) as a fusion of the Charleston and the Foxtrot. As its name suggests, it is a fast moving dance and is composed of walks, runs, turns, chasses, hops, skips and locks.
The Samba is a Brazilian dance, their national dance in fact, and it came to Europe via Paris in the 1900s and America shortly after. The modern version of this dance is a little different from its Brazilian roots, as it has now been modified as a partner dance with a slight bounce which comes from the knee.
The Cha Cha, or Cha Cha Cha, derives from Haiti and is a combination of the Rhumba and Mambo. Slower than the Mambo, the Cha Cha is still an energetic and flirty dance that makes use of hip rotations and synchronisation between partners with a Cuban bounce motion.
The Rhumba is the sexiest, most romantic and positively passionate dances under the Ballroom dancing umbrella. Performed as early as the 1920s, the complex dance has Cuban elements, figure of 8 hip rotations and swivelling feet actions that make up its unique characteristics.
The Pasodoble is a Spanish dance by nature, and reflects the country’s dramatic bullfights. It is quite heavy on rules, but the principle is that the man leads and plays the role of the matador while the woman represents his cape or the bull itself. The man stomps his foot a lot during a performance to get the bull’s attention.
The Jive is a fun and lively dance that started off as an African American dance in the 1940s. During this dance, the man leads and the woman effectively entices the man to dance with her. It is more often than not performed to big band music.
East Coast Swing
Swing, originally named the Lindy Hop, has evolved lot over the years. This common branch of Swing dance is mainly performed in America and Canada and is very bouncy and energetic, performed to upbeat jazz or big band music.
The Bolero, a Spanish phenomenon, was modified in Cuba and emerged as slow Salsa-like dance with some Tango, Rhumba, Waltz and Foxtrot elements. The idea behind the dance is to represent a couple falling in love and can be danced in hold or in separation.
This Cuban dance was created in the 1900s and made its way to the dance clubs of New York in the late 1940s.
If you have seen Ballroom dancers on tele or on stage, you will surely have noticed how elegant the female part of the duo looks in her sparkly heels. But how on earth can you dance comfortably in high heeled shoes?
If you too want to embrace the glamour of the dancing world, then it is possible to find comfortable shoes that are designed specifically for dancing Ballroom or Latin dancing. They don’t have to be extravagant, though, you can also find a selection of elegant shoes each offering the ultimate comfort while you perform your steps. Try searching for Ballroom shoes at specialist online retailers. Men can also make a statement with their choice of footwear, opting for vintage styles like those worn by Fred Astaire.
Experts recommend that women choose a lower heel, even if you are small against your partner, and suggest that metallic colours are great for beginners as they will match almost any outfit the new student decides to wear them with. Intermediate, semi-professional or professionally-trained dancers may wish to have a collection of footwear to choose from.
Ballroom shoes can be elegant and comfortable at the same time. Photo credit: Oneras on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA
Some of the biggest brands in Ballroom shoe wear are Werner Kern, Electric Ballroom, Roch Valley and RoTate.
So girls, if you want to channel your inner Ginger Rogers, Gaynor Fairweather or Karina Smirnoff, then step into those dancing shoes and give us a twirl!
Finding Ballroom dance classes near you couldn’t be easier if you have a computer and an Internet connection. Browse the web to find a range of Ballroom lessons and classes adapted for a newcomer, or you can simply call your local gymnastics centre or dance club to find out about drop-ins and booking classes to participate in.
Up and down the country, there are many dance studios offering dance events, dancesport style classes, Latin dance lessons and Ballroom classes at a venue near you. So whether you want to learn how to dance Ballroom in order to eventually compete in a dance championship, or you simply want to take part in the amateur workshops socially and enjoy a hobby that a man and a woman can do together, you should look up a dance teacher now!