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History of Ballroom Dancing

History of Ballroom Dancing

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Published by Josh Cruz

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Published by: Josh Cruz on Jan 26, 2010
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History of Ballroom DancingThe term "ballroom dancing" is derived from the word
, which in turn originates from theLatinword
which means "to dance". In times past, ballroom dancing wassocial dancing for the privileged, leavingfolk dancingfor the lower classes. These boundaries have since become blurred, and it should be noted even in times long gone, many ballroom dances werereally elevated folk dances. The definition of ballroom dance also depends on the era: Balls havefeaturedMinuet,Quadrille, Polonaise,Pas de Gras, Mazurka,and other popular dances of the day, which are now considered to be historical dances.
Renaissance Period
The first authoritative knowledge of the earliest ballroom dances were recorded toward the endof the sixteenth century, when Jehan Tabourot, under the pen name "Thoinot-Arbeau", publishedin 1588 his
, a study of late sixteenth-century French Renaissance social dance.Among the dances described were the solemn basse danse,the livelier  branle, pavane, and the galliardewhich Shakespeare called the "cinq pace" as it was made of five steps.
Galliard inSiena,Italy, 15th century In 1650 theMinuet,originally a peasant dance of Poitou, was introduced into Paris and set to music byJean- Baptiste Lullyand danced by the king Louis XIV in public, and would continue to dominate ballroom from that time until the close of the eighteenth century.Toward the latter half of the seventeenth century, Louis XIV founded his 'Académie Royale deMusique et de Danse', where specific rules for the execution of every dance and the "five positions" of the feet were formulated for the first time by members of the Académie.Eventually, the first definite cleavage between  ballet and ballroom came when professional dancers appeared in the ballets, and the ballets left the Court and went to the stage. Ballettechnique such as theturned out  positions of the feet, however, lingered for over two centuries and past the end of the Victoria era.
Victorian Era
An RKO publicity still of Astaire and Rogers dancing to "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" in
(1935)The waltz with its modern hold took root in England about 1812, whenCarl Maria von Weber wrote
 Invitation à la valse
which marked the adoption of the Waltz form into the sphere of absolute music. The dance was initially met with tremendous opposition due to the semblance oimpropriety associated with the closed hold, though the stance gradually softened.
In the 1840sseveral new dances made their appearance in the ballroom, including thePolka, Mazurka, and theSchottische, in the meantime a strong tendeny emerged to drop all 'decorative' steps such as
ronds de jambes
that had found a place in the Quadrilles and other dances.
[edit] Early 20th century
Modern ballroom dances has its roots early in the 20th century, when several different thingshappened more or less at the same time. The first was a movement away from the sequencedances towards dances where the couples moved independently. This had been pre-figured bythe waltz, which had already made this transition. The second was a wave of popular music, suchas jazz,much of which was based on the ideas of black musicians in the USA. Since dance is to a large extent tied to music, this led to a burst of newly invented dances. There were many dancescrazes in the period 1910–1930.Vernon and Irene Castle, early ballroom dance pioneers, c. 1910-1918.The third event was a concerted effort to transform some of the dance crazes into dances whichcould be taught to a wider dance public in the USA and Europe. HereVernon and Irene Castlewere important, and so was a generation of English dancers in the 1920s, such as JosephineBradleyand Victor Silvester . These professionals analysed, codified, published and taught a
number of standard dances. It was essential, if popular dance was to flourish, for dancers to havesome basic movements they could confidently perform with any partner they might meet. Herethe hugeArthur Murrayorganisation in America, and the dance societies in England, such as theImperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, were highly influential. Finally, much of this happenedduring and after a period of World War, and the effect of such a conflict in dissolving older social customs was considerable.
Later, in the 1930s, the on-screen dance pairing of Fred AstaireandGinger Rogersinfluenced all forms of dance in the USA and elsewhere. Although bothactorshad separate careers, their filmed dance sequences together, which included portrayals of the Castles, have reached iconicstatus.
Much of Astaire and Rogers' work portrayed social dancing, although the performanceswere highly choreographed (often by Astaire or  Hermes Pan), and meticulously staged and rehearsed.
History of jive dance
Jive can be done in a ballroom setting or with a swing band,making it a very versatiledance.  The most noticeable aspect of jive it itsspeed. In the tradition of similar dances such as swingand the Lindy hop, it used broad amounts of space and is danced with vigor.The origins of the word "jive" are unknown. It may refers to "jive talk," or badmouthing. Thisword reflects the character of the dance. It is sassy and loud. The first hints of jive came fromAfrican American slaves. These slaves danced several native dances that had triple and singlesteps. Their musichad a continuous drum bass, and several hints of jive rhythms. Jive itself hasnow split into two parts, one based on this original African beat and the other based upon itsevolved style.Jive can be known by many different names. It is sometimes called Swing, the Jitterbug,Lindy hop or the Charleston, although it is a completely different dance. These dances are allsimilar, and their steps are interconnected. The music for jive is in 4/4 time, which means four  beats to a measure, the quarter note being the dominant note of the measure. It is done with aseries of single and triple steps. It is possible for dancersto move into a two-beat jive, where thethird and fourth steps are replaced, but this is used only occasionally.Jive is usually the last dance in a competition, and is also one of the hardest dances to perform.For this reason, many dancers save their energy for one last burst at the end of a night of competing. It contains chasse steps, kicks and turns with the feet. Often these can get quitecomplicated, and partners must stay focused on the rhythm so as not to slip off-track.Jive is most directly related to Swing. This is because it evolved from many of the competitionsthat were held in American and several parts of Europe during the early 1900's. Jive's musiceventually developed its own flavor in the 1950's and 60's. It contains bouncy rhythms and easymelodies.In competitions, partners are often judged on the energy that they give to its performance, in addition to the steps. They are also judged on their interpretation of rhythm andoverall performance. Flicks of the foot and kicks should not be mere decoration. They are to beimportant in the rhythm and timing, and even gestures when used in a certain context. The"moving center" of the dance, in jive's case the handhold, should remain firm. Good coordinationis a must, especially when executing sharp turns and difficult hand movements.Jive is not evolving into other dances. Its steps are sometimes used inRock and Roll,and Europe has created a dance called "Ceroc" that is somewhat similar in terms of steps and execution.

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