Ballroom dancing is an umbrella term that refers broadly to partner dancing for recreation, performance or dancesport. Ballroom dance has become very popular in recent years with the popularity of a number of television shows. In the last couple of decades, in both the United States and abroad, dance shows like Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance have been very popular.

Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko, Rumba 2014

Also, the Olympics recently classified ballroom dance as an Olympic sport encouraging many people to enter into dancesport. Ballroom dancing thrives in economic good times and economic slow downs. In fact, recent research has shown it is beneficial for brain health, as well as, being a great fitness activity.

Blackpool Dance Festival 2016

Professional Ballroom Highlights 2016

Ballroom Dancing History

The term ballroom comes from the Latin and Italian words, “ballare” and “room,” which referred to the dance hall.  Subsequently, the word “ballroom” came to refer to both the hall and the activity.  So, we see the word used in terms like ballroom dancing, ballroom dance, ballroom dancer, ballroom instruction and ballroom freferring to a hall.

Ballroom dance evolved in the 1500’s but expanded in the 18th century.  It culminated in the mid-nineteenth century with the waltz spreading around the globe. Ballroom dancing flourished in the 20th century along with the jazz era and big band. Also, Americans gained a new interest in dances from foreign countries. For instance, some of these new dances were the cha cha, rumba, samba, mambo, foxtrot, tango, quickstep and waltz. In addition, in the U.S. swing dancing was wildly popular. Later, dance studios and professional dance teachers standardized these dance genres.

Learn To Ballroom DVDs

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In Europe, they became International style dancing and in the United States, they became American style dancing. Eventually, the ballroom dances were categorized into Latin, Standard (aka ballroom) for International style and Smooth and Rhythm dances for American style ballroom.

The Ballroom Dances

American Ballroom Dance Genres

The American Smooth ballroom dances are waltz, foxtrot, tango and Viennese waltz.  American ballroom rhythm dances are rumba, cha cha, mambo, bolero, samba and East Coast swing. American style ballroom dancing has not been completely standardized yet. However, there are organizations working on a variety of syllabi for standardization in recent years. Meanwhile, it is the perfect dance style for social dancing. One of the all time greatest American style rhythm dance couples, Emmanuel Pierre Antoine & Liana Churilova, retired in 2016. Read and watch more of their dance performances at U.S. Pro Rhythm Dance Champions!

Emmanuel Pierre Antoine & Liana Churilova, Final Bow, 2016

International Ballroom Dance Styles

Waltz, foxtrot, tango, Viennese waltz and quickstep are the International standard dance genres. The International ballroom Latin dances are rumba, cha cha, samba, jive and paso doble. International ballroom dance is the style most often seen in dance competitions and dancesport.

Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyova, Viennese waltz, 2012

World Dance Show “Stars Duet”, Moscow, Russia, 2017

Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova, slow waltz

Generally, the word ballroom or social ballroom refers to all the social partner dancing.  For instance, it includes categories like Country Western, Latin dancing, swing dancing, tango dancing and other types of dance categories. Square dance, round dance and folk are not usually considered ballroom dance. Also, the different vintage and dance preservation groups style of dancing is usually called ballroom dancing.

Arunas & Katusha ballroom dancing

(Watch & read about world Pro Ballroom champions, Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova)

Meanwhile, there are three categories of ballroom dancing: social, performance and competition dancing, also known as dance sport. Additionally, each dance category has its own distinctive features and qualities that fit the particular needs of the dancer involved in these unique areas of dance. Usually, ballroom dancing happens in a large hall with everyone dancing counterclockwise or in a spot to music that fits the particular dance genre.

International Latin ballroom dancing couple

(Watch & read more about world Latin champions, Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko, here)

Additional Ballroom Dance Articles & Videos