DANCE THROUGH HISTORY

DANCE THROUGH HISTORY

Dance through history . . .

Gail Ingis & instructor Henry Skopp at Foxwoods competition. Gail got 1st place in Waltz and Foxtrot.

Dancin’ feet! Do you know the latest dance? Bet you would if you could . . . dance. “Tom,” I said, “For my birthday, come on, dance with me.”

Now that we got ourselves onto the dance floor, I began to wonder about the history of ballroom dancing. Dance history is difficult to access because dance does not often leave behind clearly identifiable physical artifacts that last over millennia, such as stone tools, hunting implements or cave paintings. It is not possible to identify with exact precision when dance became part of human culture. I suspect millenniums. We do know though, early dance, like 18th century sequence ballroom dancing in Jane Austen’s world, was used as a method of healing and expression. That has not changed.

Dancing with the Stars: https://youtu.be/nTWNrvnm2J8?t=20

Dancing with the Stars, Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough

Dancing with the Stars, Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough

Modern ballroom dance has its roots early in the 20th century, when several different things happened during and after World War I. The first was a movement away from the sequence dances toward dances where the couples moved independently. This was foreshadowed by the waltz which had already made this transition. The second was a wave of popular music that led to a burst of invented dances. The third event was a concerted effort to transform some of the dance crazes into dances which could be taught to a wider dance public in the US and Europe.

Vernon & Irene Castel

Vernon & Irene Castel, early ballroom dance pioneers, 1910-18

Here Vernon and Irene Castle were important, and so was a generation of English dancers in the 1920s. These professionals analyzed, codified, published and taught a number of standard dances. It was essential, if popular dance was to flourish, for dancers to have some basic movements they could confidently perform with any partner they might meet. Here the Arthur Murray organization in America, and the dance societies in England, such as the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, were influential.

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Later, in the 1930s, the on-screen dance pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers influenced all forms of dance in the USA and elsewhere. Much of their work portrayed social dancing, although the performances were highly choreographed, meticulously staged and rehearsed.

Our Instructors: Henry Skopp and Monika Barska

Henry Skopp and Monika Barska, our instructors at Southport, Fairfield, CT Fred Astaire Studios

Ballroom dance may refer to almost any type of partner dancing as recreation. However, with the emergence of dancesport in modern times, the term has become narrower in scope, and traditionally refers to the International Standard and International Latin style dances. The styles, while differing in technique, rhythm and costumes, exemplify core elements of ballroom dancing such as control and cohesiveness. There are variations that are popular: American Smooth and American Rhythm which combine elements of both traditional Latin and Ballroom dances.

Competitive dancing

Young couple competiting in Chez Republic

Talented children dancing cha-cha-cha at a junior Latin dance competition in the Czech Republic. You should see kids like this dance live, they are terrific. Studying dance is hard work. For these competitions, it takes hours and hours and hours of lessons and practice.

Dance to the music

Dance to the music

Competitions, available for the ambitious, are sometimes referred to as Dancesport, range from world championships, regulated by the World Dance Council (WDC), to less advanced dancers at various proficiency levels. Most competitions are divided into professional and amateur, though in the USA pro-am competitions typically accompany professional competitions.The International Olympic Committee now recognizes competitive ballroom dance. It has recognized another body, the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF), as the sole representative body for dancesport in the Olympic Games. However, it seems doubtful that dance will be included in the Olympic Games, especially in light of efforts to reduce the number of participating sports.

dance swingdance

 

Swing . . . one of my favorites. I also love the Waltz, it’s dreamy. We dance three days a week, private, practice and group. An amazing exercise. The benefits are astounding.

My ballroom gave me a surprise birthday party!

Personalized too! Birthday surprise for me at our ballroom dance party! And Tom next to me did it, went from never danced in life, to dancing with his wife. That’s me.

Tom and Gail

What’s your favorite dance?
Thanks to Wikipedia!

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DO YOU WANT TO DANCE?

DO YOU WANT TO DANCE?

dance 5Unless you dance privately, when you think of ballroom dancing, you are most likely going to a wedding or some sort of party to dance. Dancing is a sport, like tennis. When you dance, it’s invigorating and challenging. In order to do it well, you have to study or take lessons, just like any sport. Dance has history like all sports.

Here’s some history about “Ballroom Dancing:”

dance800px-Vernon_and_Irene_Castle2Ballroom dancing is a dance that takes usually takes place at social gatherings. You can bring your partner with you, or you can meet a partner at the gathering, as in the 1940’s when there were the popular USO dances. During World War II USOs all over the globe would hold free dances for service members, allowing them to mingle with the community who were there to show how much they supported the military. It was a great boost to the popularity of ballroom dancing.

Ginger Roger & Fred Astaire

Ginger Roger & Fred Astaire

The Foxtrot was believed to be the first “slow step,” given the title from Harry Fox, a vaudeville dancer and comedian, who was believed to be the first to use the slow step. The first freestyle use of the slow step came into vogue around 1912, during the period of ragtime music. This marked a completely new phase of dancing where partners danced much closer together (more compact) and ad-libbed to the new and exhilarating music. Prior to this period, the Polka, Waltz and the One-Step were popular. In these dances partners were held at arm’s length and a set pattern of movements was observed.

By 1915, another change took place—new and melodic “pop” songs were being written—tunes like, “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” and “Ida” were the smash hits of the day. The public was quick to appreciate the change to a smoother, more rhythmic style of music, and their dancing began to absorb the better attributes of the older dances. From 1917 up to the present time, the accent has been placed on smoother dancing and individualized expression. By 1960, the international style of dancing was making its way into the U.S. ballrooms and many of the techniques were implemented into the American style Foxtrot. The main difference between the two styles is that the international style Foxtrot is danced entirely in contact maintaining the normal dance hold, while the American style allows for complete freedom of expression utilizing various dance holds and positions.

USO dances

USO dances

waltzDuring the 20th century, new dances were introduced to the ballroom. The Tango was derived from two dances, a solo dance from Spain and an Argentinean courtship dance that was originally considered taboo among polite society in Argentina. A moderated version of the tango had appeared before the First World War. Dances such as the American foxtrot (see that history above), quickstep, Afro-Cuban rumba, Spanish paso doble, Brazilian samba, Cuban cha-cha, jive and American swing also became popular during the 20th century, as new music styles and social rules changed and relaxed.

At the same time, there was an increasing interest in creating dances that could easily be taught from the new styles of dance and music, in both the US and Europe. Ballroom dances were becoming standardized, allowing the dancer to learn a number of standard moves that they could use with any partner. Dancers and professionals like Irene and Vernon Castle, and dance societies such as the Arthur Murray group were very influential. Later in the century, screen stars such as Fred Astaire helped to spread interest in ballroom dancing.

Rules

Dance Etiquette

Competitive ballroom dancing or dancesport began to overtake social dancing towards the end of the 20th century, with two main styles evolving: the International or WDC defined style and the American style. Dancesport had been around for some time, with a world championship being held unofficially in 1909. It first appeared on the television in 1960 and became very popular during the 1980s. Ballroom dancing has recently increased in popularity due to the presence of competitive dancing on TV across the world.

We joined a local dance studio. We are pleased with how they work.

You must visit my writer friend Patty Blount’s blog about ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Gilles Marini.

So,danceuso3 do you want to dance?

Permission and thanks for some of this info goes to:  BallroomDance.co

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