Ballroom dance is the name for a number of dances done in ballrooms. It usually means pairs (mostly a man and woman) dancing separately from other pairs.
The most important difference in style is between the modern or standard dances and the Latin dances. The modern dances are the waltz, quickstep, foxtrot, tango and Viennese waltz.
The Latin dances are the cha-cha-cha, samba, rumba, paso doble and jive. However, there are also sequence dances, where dancers move together in a pre-set pattern.
Ballroom dance is a set of partner dances, which are enjoyed both socially and competitively around the world, and growing all the more popular in North America.
Because of its performance and entertainment aspects, ballroom dance is also widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television.
All these dances can be danced socially, more or less any way people want to. As competition dances, they are organised under the rule of the World Dance Council.
These competitions are danced in the International style; the techniques were developed by English dancers in the 20th century.
All major international competitions are conducted within detailed regulations.
There are other systems of dance regulated by national bodies. American style is one; Scottish dancing is another; Greek classical dance is another.
Ballroom dance may refer, at its widest definition, 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 five International Standard and five International Latin style dances (see dance categories below).
The two styles, while differing in technique, rhythm and costumes, exemplify core elements of ballroom dancing such as control and cohesiveness.
Developed in England, the two styles are now regulated by the World Dance Council (WDC). In the United States, two additional variations are popular: American Smooth and American Rhythm, which combine elements of both traditional Latin and Ballroom dances.
Although the most famous dancers were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, they did not dance in ballrooms. Their career together was entirely on film. Astaire danced also on the stage, and on television.
The most famous American pair of ballroom dancers was Vernon and Irene Castle, who were national figures until Vernon’s death in 1918. Later, Arthur Murray’s chain of dance schools taught many Americans to dance. The most famous English ballroom dancer was probably Victor Silvester, who was a professional dancer and a very successful bandleader.
There are also a number of historical dances, and local or national dances, which may be danced in ballrooms or salons. Sequence dancing, in pairs or other formations, is still a popular style of ballroom dance.