Ballroom dance can be enjoyed in both social and competitive contexts. This form of dance is sometimes referred to as “partnership dancing” because it requires a dance partner. Ballroom dancing originated in the 16th century from formal events held in royal courts. There’s also evidence of influence from folk dances of the era – for example, the Waltz began as an 18th century folk dance in Austria.
Two Styles of Ballroom Dance
The International Style of ballroom dance was introduced in England in the early 1800s due to the musical influence of Josef and Johann Strauss. By the 19th century, this style spread to the rest of the world. International Style predominantly consists of two sub-styles known as Standard (or simply “Ballroom) and Latin, which prominently features in dance competitions. Here in the United States, ballroom dance developed into the American Style between 1910 and 1930 thanks to the influence of jazz music, a more social approach to dancing, and the iconic choreography and dance talents of Mr. Fred Astaire. Over the years, American Style has expanded to include dances such as Mambo, Salsa, and West Coast Swing, and continues to adapt to musical developments from cultures around the world. Just like International Style, American Style can also be categorized into two distinct sub-styles: Rhythm and smooth, both of which can be found in social and competitive ballroom dance.
The Differences Between International & American Styles
International Style remains the classic or “old school” style of Ballroom. In International Standard, dance partners must remain in a closed dance position, meaning that they must continually stand in front of each other and maintain body contact throughout the dance. Although American Smooth shares many similarities with its counterpart, it allows dancers more freedom in that partners can separate their dance frame (this is referred to as “open position”). This core difference is even reflected in the kinds of gowns or dresses that dancers wear. Dancers performing International Style typically wear dresses that have floats coming from the tops, while dancers performing American Style avoid such dresses due to the transitions between closed and open position.
Getting YOUR Dance On
At Fred Astaire Dance Studios, we offer instruction in both International and American Ballroom Styles, and then some! And as a Fred Astaire dance student, you choose which dance style you’d like to learn first based on your individual dance goals and preferences. For example, individuals interested in high-energy lessons for improved physical health would likely choose a different style than couples looking for an elegant First Dance for their wedding. No matter your age, ability level or whether you’re planning to take lessons with a dance partner or on your own – you’ve come to the right place.
To learn more about each type of dance and view a demonstration video, just click on the links to the right. Then, give us a call at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, and don’t forget to ask about our money-saving introductory offer for new students. Together, we’ll get you started on your personal dance journey!