The History Ballroom Dance in America

May 16, 2015

dance-studio-in-tucson-azBallroom dance is a style of partnered dancing that may be pursued for pleasure or competition. The term “ballroom dance” is derived from the Latin term “ballare,” which means, simply, “to dance.” Although ballroom dance originated in Europe in the 1500s, the most modern form of ballroom dance was developed in the 20th century, primarily in the United States.  

Ballroom Dance Development

The moves used in modern ballroom dance were largely developed in the early 1900s, following the creation of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) in 1904. Over the next three decades, this society sought to develop a form of dance that incorporated some of the most recent “dance crazes,” such as the tango, foxtrot, and Viennese waltz, into a set of moves that was both less tiring and capable of being set to modern popular music. The development of standardized moves also ensured that dancers could confidently take part in ballroom dance anywhere and at any time, regardless of available partners.

Ballroom Dance Icons

During the first half of the 20th century, several poplar ballroom dance icons emerged. Prominent among them were Vernon and Irene Castle, who developed or popularized many of today’s ballroom dance moves between 1910 and 1920, such as the tango, the quickstep, and the hesitation waltz. In the 1930s, the feature film dance numbers of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers played a significant role in the popularization of ballroom dance in the U.S.

Ballroom Dance Competitions

Because ballroom dance features standardized moves, these moves can be evaluated and judged. Ballroom dance competition, or dancesport, is available on both national and international levels. The first unofficial dancesport world championship was held in 1909 in Paris, France; the first United States Ballroom Championships were conducted by the American Ballroom Company, Inc. in 1982.

Are you ready to learn ballroom dance, swing dance, tango, salsa, or bolero in Tucson? Fred Astaire Dance Studio offers dance classes and private dance lessons for informal and formal events; you can reach us by calling (520) 300-5490 or by clicking on our web contact form.

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