The History of Ballroom Dancing and its Origins

History of Ballroom Dancing: Shifts in the World of Dance

Many people don’t know the history of ballroom dancing. Ballroom dancing dates back centuries and has evolved over time. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of ballroom dancing and how it’s changed over the years.

We’ll also discuss some of the popular styles of ballroom dancing that are popular today. By understanding the history of ballroom dancing, you can better appreciate this art form and its many forms. So let’s get started!

Note: We hope you love our articles! Just so you know, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!

Origin and History of Ballroom Dancing

Let us now have a quick look at some of the notable happenings in the world of ballroom dancing.

Timeline of Ballroom Dance: Early Modern Period

Folk dances of the European peasantry likely influenced the earliest form of ballroom dance.

These early dances were simple but gradually became more complex as they spread throughout Europe and developed into distinct regional styles.

For example, the minuet originated in France in the 1600s, while the polka comes from Bohemia around 1830.

Jehan Tabourot was able to document the earliest forms of ballroom dancing in his book named, Orchesographie.

This was way back in 1588, and it was about the study of social dance during the French Renaissance.

Some of the dances that were mentioned are pavane, the livelier branle, the solemn basse dance, and Shakespeare’s favorite, the galliarde.

During the 1650s, a new form of dance came into light, and it was called the minuet.

This was actually a dance from the peasants; however, it gained popularity and was danced by King Louis XIV in public.

Therefore, it became acceptable to the nobles and in turn, turned into the most popular dance of the 18th century.

It was by the 16th century that King Louis XIV started the Academie Royale de Musique et de Danse.

This is the first time that dance was regulated in as much as having at least five positions for the feet.

This was also the time that ballet and ballroom were distinguished as ballet was concentrated to be performed onstage.

Timeline of Ballroom Dance: 19th Century

top ballroom dancers
The Top 4 Salsa Dance Studios Orlando Florida

In 1812, the Waltz gained popularity in England.

Carl Maria von Weber wrote the book, Invitation to Dance and this was how waltz was adapted into what they call as the sphere of absolute music.

Just as mentioned before, not everyone liked it at first due to the proximity of patterns, but they got over it eventually.

From here on out, other styles of dance stemmed from waltz which involved a lot of decorative steps.

Timeline of Ballroom Dance: Early 20th Century

how to ballroom dance waltz feature
Best Professional Ballroom Dance Shoes: Beginner’s Guide

As you might notice, trends and dances change based on music.

So by 1910-1930, it is all about jazz.

This is the period where a lot of people invented the different types of dances; some even have independent choreography.

People like Irene and Vernon Castle, Victor Silvester, and Josephine Bradley were the ones who analyzed these dances and codified them in categories to fit certain standards.

What Is Ballroom Dance

Let us first talk about what ballroom dance means.

It actually has a lot of definitions, but in a nutshell, it is a type of dance that is done with a partner for recreational means.

But all of us know that this is no longer accurate because ballroom dancing is now part of competitive dance sports.

Due to the changing times, it narrowed its scope to only five international standard and Latin-style dances.

We are going to discuss these two styles later on.

That said, ballroom dancing was derived from the root word ball which in Latin is “ballare”, and it means “to dance”.

In the past, as we have seen in countless movies, it is done as a social dance for the rich folk when they throw presentation balls.

Now, it is widely spread as any other dance, but the style and techniques remain true to its roots.

Ballroom Dance Types: The Two Styles

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=1472580737&Format= SL800 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=dance05b1 20&language=en USir?t=dance05b1 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=1472580737

As we have mentioned earlier, there are two recognized ballroom dancing styles.

The first one being the international standard style and the other one is the Latin style dances.

Let us briefly discuss each style.

1. International Standard Style

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=1453552626&Format= SL900 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=dance05b1 20&language=en USir?t=dance05b1 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=1453552626

This one has five dances under it, and these are the following:

a. Waltz

This one is a combination of step, slide, and has a count of three-fourths per step.

It also includes a lot of turning and the couples have a close frame which was viewed as scandalous before, but became the norm in the 19th century.

b. Tango

A closed frame is the name of the game for this dance.

It consists of a lot of irregular counts, fierce movements, and individual freestyle.

c. Foxtrot

This is usually danced with music that has a swing style.

It is one of the easiest dances as it includes side steps and walking steps.

d. Quickstep

Many people think that it was supposed to be a march that turned into something entirely rhythmic.

In the past, this dance was used in balls that celebrated heroes, presidents, governors, etc.

e. Viennese Waltz

This is actually the oldest form of the waltz.

It is believed that it originated from folk dance in France.

Just like the regular waltz, it consists of a lot of turning.

2. Latin Style Dances

ladies ballroom dance shoes feature
The Best Dance Shoes for Flat Feet: Beginner’s Guide

This also has five dances under it, and they are:

a. Pasodoble

This is an interesting type of dance that imitates a bullfight.

It originated from Spain, and it was considered as a military march.

b. Cha-cha

It has Cuban origins and is unique as the feet combinations are not always exact.

It is a mixture of turning and fast pacing.

c. Rumba

This is a combination of Afro-Cuban and American dancing styles.

Some refer to this type of dance as the dance of lovers or dance of anger.

It consists of a lot of big and bold movements.

d. Samba

This dance style came from Brazil.

It combines stiff and rhythmic movements to be danced to almost any type of music.

e. Jive

This has African-American influences and is composed of very lively and rhythmic movements.

With this one, you can stride and turn while doing a swing.

Collegiate Ballroom

Is the Swing Ballroom Dancing?
Best Ballroom Dance Shoes: Beginners Guide

There is a part of the ballroom world dedicated to college students.

These chapters are typically clubs or teams that have an interest in ballroom dancing.

Teams hold fundraisers, social events, and ballroom dance lessons.

Ballroom dance teams’ goals are to have fun and learn to dance well.

There is a strong focus on finding a compatible dance partner and bonding with teammates.

Elements of Ballroom Dance Competition

In the competitive ballroom, dancers are judged by diverse criteria such as poise, the hold or frame, posture, musicality and expression, timing, body alignment and shape, floor craft, foot and leg action, and presentation.

Judging in a performance-oriented sport is inevitably subjective in nature, and controversy and complaints by competitors over judging placements are not uncommon.


What is oldest form of ballroom dance?

The oldest form of ballroom dance is the Waltz. It originated in the 1700s in Austria.

How has ballroom dancing evolved?

Ballroom dancing has evolved over time to become more complex and technical.

Dancers now use more advanced steps and movements to create a more fluid and graceful dance. Additionally, ballroom dancing has grown in popularity, which has led to the development of new styles and forms of the dance.

What is the ballroom dance developed in 1910?

The ballroom dance developed in 1910 is the foxtrot. It was created by Harry Fox, an American vaudeville dancer, and choreographer.

The foxtrot is a slow dance that incorporates both forward and backward steps.


The history of ballroom dancing is a vast one, but some who are passionate about the craft can really appreciate each shift in its history.

If you think about it, the dances nowadays are so different from social dances in the past.

You cannot really help but wonder if our present dances are just old dances that evolved into something new.

As there is a lot to cover, we are just going to talk about certain shifts in history that changed the course of ballroom dancing as we know it.

There is still much to discuss the history of ballroom dancing, but the ones that we mentioned are the most important shifts.

If you truly want to learn more, just follow the type of music that year, as more often than not, there is a significant change in dancing style and form based on that music alone.

Truly, its history is as interesting as the dances themselves.

Bestseller No. 1
RoseMoli Women's Latin Dance Shoes Satin...
1,778 Reviews
RoseMoli Women’s Latin Dance Shoes Satin…
  • Design: Elegant & generous classical style design.Adjustable crisscross ankle straps match shining rhinestone quick…
  • Material: high quality satin upper, soft & silky. High elastic latex midsole, high quality insole , soft breathable…
Bestseller No. 2
TTdancewear Women Rhinestone Ballroom Latin Salsa...
1,794 Reviews
TTdancewear Women Rhinestone Ballroom Latin Salsa…
  • Suede Sole for Ballroom Dance
  • Heels: 2.5inch heels or 3inch heels
Bestseller No. 3
Ballroom Dance Shoes Women Latin Salsa Practice...
1,683 Reviews
Ballroom Dance Shoes Women Latin Salsa Practice…
  • PERFECT MATERIAL: High quality satin upper with fine sweat absorption suede insole, soft breathable lining, High…
  • COMFORTABLE DESIGN:Simple and generous style design, low-key luxury; Elastic band makes you wear it quickly and fit…

Last update on 2023-05-14 /Affiliate Links / Source: Amazon

Share the Love!


  1. Ballroom dance From Wikipedia
  2. Types of ballroom dance

4 thoughts on “The History of Ballroom Dancing and its Origins”

  1. Babsie Wagner

    I always thought ballroom dancing was a marvelous thing to behold, and I have to say I am always impressed and captured by couples doing it at weddings and dance halls.  Most couples spin in a slow circle going side to side in the most boring way, and I just don’t understand why such a beautiful art kind of went to the wayside.  I have always wanted to take a ballroom dancing class, but my honey never was interested.  Guys!  LOL!  Thanks for the great article.  I might have to do it without him.

    1. Hi Basie! Thank you for your comment, hopefully you get to start dancing soon! 🙂

  2. Sujandar Mahesan

    I really don’t have any personal interest on Ballroom Damcing but like everyone I just atleast wanted to know what it was and how it was created. This article was really interesting to read for me because it had everything I need to know about Ballroom dancing and it’s history. 

    Thank you for sharing this article.

    1. Hey Sujandar!… Thanks for stopping by and for your feedback!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top