Modern Ballroom , sometimes called Standard, is the term given to five dances that are danced both socially and in competitions: the Quickstep, the Slow Foxtrot, the Tango, the Viennese Waltz, and the Waltz (often called Slow Waltz, or Modern Waltz). With their origins all based in Europe and North America, these dances conjure up images of men in suits and women in long, flowing dresses gliding around a ballroom floor with ease and grace.
All Modern dances are danced in a closed hold, with the man's right hand on the lady's left shoulder blade and his left hand holding the lady's right hand. The lady's left hand rests lightly on the man's upper right arm. With such a close connection between them, the lead comes from the hip rather than the arms or upper body. These dances are danced in an anticlockwise circle around the room. Unless it's a sequence dance, every couple will be doing something different, so watch out as you make your way around the floor!
With its lively pace and eye-catching moves, Quickstep is a favourite among ballroom dancers. It developed from a slower social dance with a “slow-slow-quick-quick” rhythm that was popular in the early 20th century. Once the 1920s hit, music became jazzier and faster, and so, necessarily, did the dancing. Thus the Quickstep was born, and once it embraced the Big Band Swing of the 1930s and 40s, it was here to stay. The steps can feel rushed and frenzied at first, but once you get the sway and rhythm right, the momentum simply carries you around the floor.
Slow Foxtrot is a beautiful, elegant dance, but it is notorious for being the most difficult of the standard ballroom dances. The look of the Slow Foxtrot, with its simple, graceful lines and its steady rhythm of “slow-quick-quick”, belies the technical knowledge and physical skill it takes to produce it. It is therefore not advisable for beginners to start with this one. In time and with lots of practice, however, the Slow Foxtrot can become the smoothest and most enjoyable ride around the floor.
Long-Steps currently only teaches Slow Foxtrot by private tuition, but periodically teaches the Glenroy Foxtrot (a Slow Foxtrot sequence dance) in the advanced class and Slow Foxtrot based New-Vogue dances in the beginner class, and advanced class.
The Tango of modern ballroom originated with the Argentine Tango, but, thanks to the conventions of ballroom dancing, it developed into a very different style of dance. While both the Argentine and Modern Tangos are passionate dances, the former is smooth and sensuous while the latter is sharp and fiery. This sharpness also differentiates the Modern Tango from the other modern ballroom dances, which tend to be smooth and floaty. Tango, in comparison, is bold, deliberate and low to the ground. It’s also a lot of fun to dance!
Just think of that classic image of women in white dresses and long white gloves and gents in gleaming tuxes and bowties spinning round and round a magnificent ballroom together, and you’ve got a good idea of the Viennese Waltz. It’s fast, technical and you can feel a bit dizzy at first, but once you get the hang of it all that hard work turns into something effortless and exhilarating!
Watching a couple do those classic slow turns around each other in the romantic Waltz, you wouldn’t think this dance would have such a rocky history. Starting out its life as a folk dance in the 18th century, it caused a scandal in the 19th when it adapted to a hold where the man put his hand on the lady’s waist. It got faster, it got slower, it got closer, it almost disappeared entirely, and finally in the 1920s it developed into the beautiful dance that we know today. Danced to ¾ timing, this is one for the romantics.