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Ballroom Dance Competitions - An Exploration

Ballroom dancing is most well known as a social and recreational interest, allowing its participants to get both lost and found in the joy of movement and sound. The professional arena takes this skill base to a new height of mastery. Similar to many other cultural, artistic and dance genres, the skills and persistent practice required by those who flourish at it are annually celebrated at a championship and professional level.

Since the early 20th Century, a continuous array of ballroom dance competitions took place and grew into an internationally cohesive event. Here we explore the history of this.

The World Dance Council is both an historic and contemporary organization that oversees and defines much of what constitutes professional and competitive international level ballroom dance. (WDC). This professional level of ballroom dance competition first began in 1909 in Paris, held and orchestrated by dance lover and entrepreneur, Camille de Rhynal. Prior to that, there are few sources confirming professional ballroom dance. Historical analyses are growing in detail, however, to confirm its existence, particularly in Western Europe.

1922 proved to be a pivotal year for the growth and elevation of professional ballroom dance. A world championship body for ballroom dancing developed and defined ballroom dance as one dance form, as opposed to many sub-genres. Ballroom dance competition now had one cohesive international title, as opposed to separate championships for different sub-genres of ballroom dance. These particular competitions involving all genres of ballroom dance were held in France every year from 1925 until 1939. During World War 2, the championships did not take place due to financial and social inability to organize it. The competitions recommenced once the war had ended and were held annually until 1949. They were relatively informal in terms of how it was organized, but the competitions existed and took place nonetheless.

The Post war era throughout the effected world was in dire need of a resurgence of artistic culture so to reframe reality as one that encapsulated hope and beauty. The ICBD (International Council of Ballroom Dancing) was created as a manifestation of this need for cultural engagement and life affirming interests. This occurred in Edinburgh in September 1950, headed by dance organizer and enthusiast Phillip J. S. Richardson. Meetings between 12 nations discussed ballroom dance as a professional art. These meetings manifested as the emergence of the ICBD as an international professional dance organization. This body became an authority of what constituted professional level ballroom dance, which genres were to be included and the requirements of a point system.

Interest in the ICBD was profound throughout the world. Informal, social and pleasure-seeking ballroom dance remained untouched and dominated the genre. Within the ranks and spheres of competition ballroom dance, an entire set of rules and guidelines were formed. Many other ballroom dance competitions were abandoned by entire nations in order to pursue a "truly" professional arena.

The initial competition organized by the ICBD took place in 1959. This proved to be a lesson in how to cohesively run such an event. The championships of 1960 were groundbreaking for ballroom dance and has been a profound success up until today. The ICBD was renamed the World Dance & Dance Sport Council- and again renamed as the World Dance Council (WDC). It remains an authoritative body in regard to international Ballroom competition dance, technical expertise and skill standards. There are currently 59 member nations, with a view to expanding every year. The structure of the body is relatively democratic in that every nation's representative is permitted an equal vote in decisions about the direction of ballroom dance and competition.

The participation of a WDC ballroom dance event is an extremely sought after privilege and career goal amongst professional dancers. The standards are of upmost scrutiny and to ensure fairness between participators, all music played in the events are concealed until the event begins. The physical requirements are such that athleticism is a prerequisite. The paired events last for 90-120 seconds, in which a number of required moves and sequences are judged.

The essence of ballroom dancing began with, and continues to be, pleasure seeking, social connection, the enjoyment of freedom and sensuality. That the competition level sport eludes these qualities is debated greatly among many lay dance organizations and participants. The benefit of the competition arena has most of all been to bring publicity to the dance and to allow the world to view the magnificent skill this art entails. We at Ballroom shoes online maintain that the beauty of Ballroom dance is in the freedom it adds to life. May we continue to enjoy it, regardless of our skill, ability or inclinations!