Ballroom dance is sometimes known as “partnership dancing” since this type of dance requires a dance partner. This type of dance is of great fun and can be enjoyed in a social setting as well as at dance competitions. Ballroom dancing originated in the 16th century from dances held in the royal courts. There’s also evidence of influence from folk dances of the era – for example, the Waltz began as an 18th century Austrian folk dance.
Two Styles of Ballroom Dance
The International Style of ballroom dancing includes two distinct styles: standard/ “ballroom” and Latin. The International Style originated in England during the 1800s and increased in popularity throughout the following century which was done with the help of musicians Josef and Johann Strauss. But in the US, an American Style began to appear throughout the 1910s into the 1930s due to the prominent influence of jazz music. This American Style gave ballroom dancing a more social vibe and included a great variety of dances such as Salsa, West Coast Swing, and Mambo. One prominent figure throughout this development was Mr. Fred Astaire, who was known for his iconic dances and choreography. Always changing in response to different genres of music around the world, the American Style of ballroom dance can be categorized into Rhythm and Smooth. The American style is used in both social and competitive ballroom dance arenas.
The Differences Between International & American Styles
When most people think of the classic Ballroom Dance, they are most likely thinking of the International Style. In the Standard substyle, dance partners will remain in a closed dance position for the entirety of the dance. This means that they will stand in front of each other, and have body contact throughout the dance. While American Smooth is very similar to this substyle, it allows dancers to engage in the “open position”, meaning that they can separate. In addition, American Smooth allows couples to have more freedom by incorporating “Exhibition” or solo work into the choreography. In the beginning stages of training, International Style is more disciplined than American Style (which typically starts first as a social Hobby, then progresses to Sport). Both styles can be very technical with a high level of proficiency requirements, but in general, there is more freedom in the American Style. There are also differences in the attire worn in the respective styles. For the International Style, dresses are typically more floaty at the top because partners stay in the closed position. This is not the case for American style, which features the open and closed position.
Getting YOUR Dance On
As a Fred Astaire student, let us help cater to your dance goals and needs. We offer instruction in both International and American Ballroom Styles, and then some! You have the option to choose which style you want to learn first based off of your personal interests and goals. For example, individuals looking to participate in an intense class to improve their physical well-being will most likely choose a different style than couples looking for an elegant First Dance for their wedding. Here at Fred Astaire’s Dance Studio, no matter your age, ability level or whether you’re planning to take lessons with a dance partner or on your own – get ready to have the time of your life.
If you wish to learn more about each type of dance and view a demonstration video, click on the links to the right. Then, call us at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, and be sure to mention our special deal for new students. Together, we can get you started on your personal dance journey!