Ballroom Dancing - The International Standards

Ballroom Dancing describes partner dances, performed socially or competitively, with prescribed specific movements. It evokes a sense of mystique and elegance if performed socially and of energy and passion when performed competitively.

The word "ball" in Ballroom Dancing comes from not the child's toy but from the Latin word "ballare" meaning to dance. It forms the bases for the words ballet (a dance,) ballerina (a dancer) and ballroom (a room for dancing). Ballroom Dancing was very popular among the English upper class during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, where it referred to almost any type of recreation dancing. By the early 20th century, as it caught the interest of the working class, the term become narrower in scope, with many of the dances dropping out of favour as being 'historical' or 'folk' dances.

By the early 1920's a number of dance societies in both England and America began to offer regulated competitive Ballroom Dancing. They promoted a number of standard dances, with some basic movements that dancers could confidently perform with any partner they might meet. The highly influential Imperial Society of Dance Teachers (later, the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing) formed a Ballroom Branch which was instrumental in developing standard dancing styles, which later formed the basis for the International dance standards.

Currently, the term Ballroom Dancing refers to the International Standard dances, which are currently regulated by the WDC (World Dance Council). The International standard comprises the following five dances: the Modern Waltz (also known as the 'slow' or the 'English' waltz); the Viennese Waltz; the Slow Foxtrot; the Tango; the Quickstep.

Sometimes, the term Ballroom Dancing also includes the International Latin style dances, which include: the Samba; the Rumba; the Paso Doble; the Cha-Cha; the Jive.

Both, Modern Ballroom and Latin American Ballroom, dancing styles are well standardized for teaching purposes with a set, internationally recognized vocabulary, technique, rhythm and tempo. The dancing postures for International Latin style varies from dance to dance: some dances require using closed hold, some require partners holding each other with only one hand, few dances require a line of dance and a number of dances have the routines performed on pretty much a single spot.

For the International standard Ballroom dances, the posture requirement is a closed hold (5 points of contact between dancers) during varied tempo (beats per minute) and rhythm (structure). With a set line of dance, this posture provides a very elegant look as the couple floats across the dance floor.