At the dawn of civilization dancing was related to religious rituals and cult practices. Gradually it transformed and eventually became part of the secular life of people.
The term Ballroom Dancing was coined during the Western European Renaissance. The earliest codification of dances appeared sometime in the 12th century when the first rules for secular dances, i.e. the so-called promenade dances, were established.
In the late 16th century, in his study of the French Renaissance ballroom dance Orchésographie, Thoinot Arbeau described for the first time a dance called "branle". It was one of the first forms of a competition dance. Another dance was also described in this study, the "pavane", which was performed during royal balls and wedding festivities.
In later decades towns began to grow rapidly and new dances appeared, such as the menuet and the rigaudon. Dances with more rapid tempo movements appeared, including jumps and swirls. Towards the end of the 17th century to so-called contra dances appeared, which have a characteristic symmetrical choreography. They were a mix of English and Scottish country dances and French dance styles. In the 19th century, the King of dances appeared, i.e. the Viennese waltz, based on which, in combination with the menuet and the mazurka, a very popular dance used to be performed by three dancers, the pas de trois.
In the beginning of the 20th century the dances that we know today as dance competition dances were formed. They are now called sport dances.
The dancesport competitions include two main groups of dances, i.e. Standard (or Ballroom) and Latin, each including 5 different dances.
STANDARD / BALLROOM DANCES
- WALTZ / SLOW WALTZ – 3/4 time signature, moderate tempo. It was included on the programme for a dancesport competition for the first time in 1924 and was standardised in February 1929.
- TANGO – 4/4 time signature, medium fast tempo, 30-32 bpm. It originated in Argentina. The first official tango competition was held in Paris in 1907. Tango was standardised in 1920-1921, and in 1929 a finalised version of the dance was established.
- VIENNESE WALTZ – 3/4 time signature, medium fast tempo, 58-60 bpm. In 1812, it was demonstrated in Great Britain as a "German waltz" and caused a real sensation. During the following 100 years it became immensely popular. Johann Strauss Jr. alone composed 447 waltzes and in 1911 the first official competition in Viennese waltz dancing was held in Vienna. It was standardised in its present-day form in 1950.
- SLOW FOXTROT – 4/4 time signature, medium tempo, 29-30 bpm. It appeared in the USA, popularised by Harry Fox. For the first time it was presented in 1914.
- QUICKSTEP – 4/4 time signature, fast tempo, 50-52 bpm. An American dance, which appeared in Europe in the beginning of the 1920s. Until 1927 its name was "quicktime foxtrot", but later it was decided to be called "quickstep". The dance was stardardised in its modern-day form in 1930.
- SAMBA – 2/4 time signature, medium fast tempo, 50-52 bpm. Samba originated in Brazil. It is a dynamic dance with a pulsating rhythm. Prior to 1924 it was known as "maxixe". In the beginning of 1920s it became particularly popular in Paris and in 1928 the first dancing instructions for samba were published.
- CHA-CHA-CHA – 4/4 time signature, medium fast tempo, 30-32 bpm. It was inspired by the Cuban dance folklore and appeared in Havana in 1953. For the first time cha-cha-cha was presented in Europe in 1957 and in 1960 was included in the Latin group of dances during a dancesport competition.
- RUMBA – 4/4 time signature, slow tempo, 24-26 bpm. Rumba is danced to a particular slow type of music named "rumba bolero". The dance originated in Cuba. In 1926 it was decided that the English version of rumba would remain as a competition dance (2,3,4-1,2,3,4-1).
- PASO DOBLE – 2/4 time signature, medium fast tempo, 58-60 bpm. This passionate dance appeared first in Spain, inspired by its rich culture. It became very popular in Latin America and only then in Europe, already as a competition dance.
- JIVE – 4/4 time signature, fast tempo, 40-44 bpm. In 1930s it was called "boogie-woogie", in the 1940s it was also "jitterbug", and in 1945 the name "bebop" was also used, but all these names referred to the same dance patterns. The name "jive" is of English origin. Rock & roll influenced immensely the moves and steps of jive in the late 1950s. In 1968, it became the fifth dance in the category of Latin Dances in dancesport competitions.
Nowadays trends in dancesport indicate a tendency towards more athletic performances and greater dynamics. Despite dancesport having the ambition of becoming an Olympic sport discipline, dancing will always remain a form of art that has its origins in the very beginning of human civilization.