History of Ballroom Dancing
November 22, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.