Ballroom dancing is beautifully poised and styled. It exudes elegance and class. These dances developed for the most part in Europe and North America, in large ballrooms and dance halls so they travel smoothly across the floor with ease and grace. The dance hold is close and intimate allowing the partnership to move as one. These dances often look best when danced in formal attire as the ladies long ball gown adds to the impact of the movement.

Ballroom dance styles include; Modern (or Slow) Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, English Tango and Viennese Waltz.

The beautiful and elegant Waltz (sometimes called the Modern, or Slow Waltz to help distinguish it from the much faster Viennese Waltz) is the most poignant of the ballroom dances. Danced in slow three quarter time, it has a gentle, lilting rise and fall to it, as it turns and travels around filling up the entire dance floor.

As with the other ballroom dance styles, when the Waltz is done really well, it should look effortless and easy as it floats around the dance floor. The dancers will be working hard to make it stretch out with every step, staying together with their partner in perfect synchronisation through every pattern. As well as all of that, they have to make sure that their combinations don’t just move in time to the beat but express the musicality and soul of the piece that they’re dancing to.

A very romantic style, the Waltz has long been associated throughout Australia, Europe and America with the bride and grooms first dance at their wedding reception. Don’t feel that you have to be getting married to learn it though!

The English Tango is a strong, energetic and passionate dance style in its own right. It travels around the floor, as all the ballroom dances do, but with a staccato rhythm reflected in the steps and head movements.

The English Tango, or Ballroom Tango does originate from the Argentine Tango. When the exciting new dance came up to North America and over to Europe from Argentina it was a sensation in the ballrooms and nightclubs. No one had seen anything like it.

What you have to remember is that this was before YouTube, Television and even movies with sound, so once the performing dancers and musicians moved on there was no way for anyone to check what the new dance craze should look or sound like, no way to revise. People in North America and Europe went dancing in Ballrooms where large orchestras played, thus having a very different feel from the cafes and salons of Buenos Aires with their intimate spaces and groups of three or four musicians. From this a natural evolution not only of the dance style but the music that it was danced to gradually occurred.

What came out of this process is the English Tango that we recognise today. All forms of dance (and it could be argued, all forms of art) evolve or die. This dance style is a great example of one way in which this evolution can happen.

When dancing Foxtrot, one move blends into another with no obvious break or link between them. It can be a tricky dance style to get under control at first, but it’s worth the time and practice needed to get it right as it looks so damn classy when it’s done well.

The precise origins of the Foxtrot are lost in the mists of time, though we do know that it first appeared in the early 20th century and was widely popularised by the great dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle although Vernon did say that he had drawn inspiration from a dance that he had seen at African-American dance clubs over the years.

The Foxtrot has changed quite a bit since the early days, but perhaps the best way to picture how it looks and feels today is to think of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gliding across the floor to a Cole Porter tune, smooth and silky, then you have the perfect mental image of the Foxtrot.

Often thought of as the original ballroom dance as it was one of the first dances to make a change from moving around the room in large formations to focusing on staying with a single partner and dancing around other couples. The Viennese Waltz first appeared in Austria over two hundred years ago and is still danced all around the world today. It’s danced to a very fast paced ¾ time as it spins around the floor at a dizzying speed. Not one for beginners, but when danced correctly is stunningly beautiful.

If you’ve ever watched a movie with a scene set at a grand ball, this is almost certainly what is being danced there.

As the name suggests, this is a fast one. With lots of fancy footwork as you fly around the floor, it needs to travel at top speed whilst at the same time displaying intricate and accurate footwork. When danced well, it should still look smooth and easy even though your heart will be thumping like crazy.

This is generally thought to have started as a development from Foxtrot as the popular music of the day got faster and wilder, so the dance styles sped up too. A lot of the faster music that could be used for Swing can also be used to dance Quickstep.

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