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.
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