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Ballroom Dancing As Competition

World championships exist for any kind of competition and ballroom dancing is no different. Often times called dancesports, this particular sports are regulated strictly. Its governing body is the World Dance Council and it holds competitions at various levels from those for beginners to those for world renowned dancers. While the world over there are separate competitions for amateurs and professionals, in the US pro-am tournaments are commonplace. In fact, the Olympic committee now recognizes ballroom dancing as part of its competitions. Another recognized body is the WDSF or the World DanceSport Federation and this is the official representative body for the Olympics. However, dance still does not feature as part of any Olympic Games and chances of it ever becoming one seem low at the moment.

Regulations relating to ballroom dancing are country specific. There is a total of 30 countries that regularly take part in the World Championships and another 20 countries that have membership but do not always compete. For instance, UK has the British Ballroom Championships and three other competitions. On the other hand, in the US there are several pro-am competitions. Australia has the New Vogue competition that is not just a competitive event but a social one too. Russia when it was formerly known as USSR had its Soviet Ballroom dances.

There are variations to the dances used in these competitions and they depend once more on the country in question. For instance, in the US, Rhythm and American Smooth are part of the competition but elsewhere these do not exist. It seems, dances are added depending on the demand of the local market.

The most prestigious competition though world over is the Blackpool, England Dance Festival. This is one place that attracts the top dancers globally.

Elements of Competition

In the competitions a judge is always present in the foreground and a few others too who help them out. Dancers basically are judged for the frame, hold, poise, musicality, expressions, body alignment, timing, posture, shape, foot and leg action, floor craft and presentation. Judging in dance sports as you can imagine is mostly subjective and thus results are often clouded with controversies with complaints to organizers not uncommon.

Then there are scrutineers or scorekeepers who basically tally all the scores accumulated by each couple as they progress through various stages or rounds. The floor may actually have around 6 to 8 couples dancing at once in the finals. There is actually a syllabus for these competitions and moves that are deemed as illegal too. Depending on the level of competition, you can have bronze, silver or gold syllabus.


History of Ballroom Dancing

Let’s begin with the etymology of the word, “Ballroom”. To start with, this word actually comes from the Latin for “ball” and no it is not something round and that bounces. Instead, the Latin word is “ballare” and it literally means to dance. Thus, naturally, the word ballroom signifies a room to dance in. In the years gone by, ballroom dancing was as social an occasion can be. It was only for the privileged few because those below the privileges did only folk dances.

Over the years though the boundaries between the two have faded away thanks to many of the ballroom dances becoming more of a fusion with yesteryears folk dances.

The Beginning

It was around the 16th century that the first accounts of ballroom dancing originate from. Around the end of the century, Jehan Tabourot published a piece on renaissance social dance. In this were a few dances he described, even Shakespeare took one of them and called it the cinq pace as it only comprised of five steps.

Then around the late 17th century, the Academie Royale de Musique et de Danse was established by Louis XIV. This is where the exact rules to every dance and its execution was set. Members of this academy basically decided the perfect formulation to ballroom dancing. In fact, it was here that the difference between ballet and ballroom was produced. It was also around this time when professional dancers who heavily featured in ballet moved to the stage and out of the court.

The Modifications

At the start of the 19th century, waltz became more of a concrete ballroom dance. This dance however had to go through some opposition since it needed a closed hold however, the stance towards the dance gradually softened and by the 1840s several new versions made an appearance. Some of the popular ones back then were the Mazurka, Polka and even the Schottische.

The Neo-Modern Era

It was only in the 20th century and there after that things began taking a step towards what we see today. Sequenced dances became a thing of the past as couples now could move more independently. Then there was the infusion of jazz music to which ballroom dancing seemed destined for all this time. It was only natural that ballroom dancing became more of a social thing than one reserved only for the high echelon.

Modern Day

In the 21st centuary ballroom dancing has seen a huge resurgence in popular culture, with television shows such as Strictly Come Dancing pushing it into the limelight. Competitions are seeing record number of entrants and it is even becoming a factor in parents school choices, with some opting to pay tuition fees just to integrate it into their child’s curriculum.


How Do I Start Doing Ballroom Dance?

Want to start Ballroom dancing? Good for you but remember that this is not something you can just jump out and start doing on the dance floor. It is a sequential activity that needs some practice and guidance to begin with.

Our advice is to first take up a few classes. Before you begin sweating, know that in just a couple of classes you can actually begin dancing to music and will feel in sync with the notion of ballroom dancing too. Group classes is what we suggest as they are fun, engaging and because you won’t be alone, you end up learning a lot too from the way others dance or what the instructor has to say to others.

As you become more confident in your abilities, you should start participating in beginner level events held in your city. Practice at least twice a week for few hours and it should be enough to hone your ballroom dancing skills.


How Are Typical Ballroom Lessons Held?

Ballroom dancing is either taught on an individual basis or to couples as a group. They can also be taught as private lessons with one on one interaction or in a group class where you participate along with 10 to 20 others. Naturally, group lessons tend to be less expensive and a good way to start with if you only want to learn the basics, get a feel for what ballroom dancing is all about. Besides, in group lessons you need not even come with a dance partner. However, private lessons are where you can learn real moves, push yourself and become better. It also happens to be expensive and time consuming.

Thomas Boxtiger recommends, “If you happen to be a couple, then an instructor observes you as you two dance but if you are an individual then the instructor dances with you as he or she teaches you.”

In any format that you feel comfortable in, the instructor will always start by first introducing the music of the dance and the characteristics of the dance too. After that the instructor should teach the appropriate frame, foot work and coordination required with your partner. Finally, it comes down to timing and movement from one dance step to another. Usually, instructions are practiced without any music. Once you are comfortable with the steps, you with a partner then perform the same sequence of steps to music in the background.


Who does Ballroom Dancing?

Ballroom dancing is for all backgrounds and ages. There are no barriers or restrictions to this sport. In fact, you do not even need the ability to dance or any specialized skills to start. All you do is start learning a few basic steps and then perfect your timing until you find the rhythm. Anyone can begin learning ballroom dancing in a matter of minutes. It is fun and easy to do too. In fact, if you like it you could even partner up and visit a school to practice it enough so as to enter competitions. Do find out where events are held in the city you stay in. Some events need you to come as a couple while others basically partner you up on the spot.

Even Thomas Boxtiger himself has done ballroom dancing!

Ballroom dancing is one of those activities that can be learnt at any age and enjoyed too. Take the movie, Mad Hot Ballroom for instance where grade school children learn the art and enjoy competing in ballroom dancing too. Besides, ballroom dancing is a low impact activity making it suitable for those who have crossed that age where the joints can become fragile. Thankfully, ballroom dancing is a skill that once you learn, you remember for the rest of your lives. It is an added advantage that ballroom dancing keeps you fit too.


What is Ballroom Dancing?

Ballroom dancing is a form of duet where a couple dances to music with coordinated steps together. Patterns, rhythms are an integral part of the dance and matching them to the music while being in sync is the key objective. To be vague, ballroom dancing can be broken down into two main types.

The first form is called Smooth style where movements or the flow of the dance is to go all over the ballroom in a transitional style. Grace of movement and covering the floor with pattern transitions that are smooth all formulate Smooth Style of Ballroom dancing. Best examples of this include Viennese, Quickstep, Tango, Waltz and Foxtrot.

The other kind of ballroom dance is called the Rhythm or Latin style. These dances usually have the dancers rooted to a single location on the floor with energy being the motive. The dances are usually heavy, rhythmic and fast. A few good examples include the Rumba, Cha Cha, Mambo, Disco, Paso Doble and more.