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27 November 2014
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Strictly Come Dancing

The history of the dances


The Waltz

The Waltz has its history rooted in a peasant dance from the Provence area of France in 1559, from a piece of folk music called The Volta.

Partners had to hold each other in such a close embrace that many declared it immoral. Louis XIII (1601-1643) even had it banned from court on this account.

The Viennese Waltz

Said to be a derivation of The Landler, a dance developed in Bavaria during the 12th and 13th centuries.

The French dispute this saying that, like the traditional Waltz, the Viennese Waltz was also developed from The Volta.

The Tango

The gauchos (cowboys) of Argentina wore chaps that hardened from the foam and sweat of the horse's body, causing them to walk with flexed knees.

Of a night they would go to crowded night clubs and ask prostitutes to dance. Since the gaucho hadn't showered, the lady would dance in the crook of the man's right arm, holding her head back. Her right hand was held low on his left hip, close to his pocket, looking for a payment for dancing with him.


During the summer of 1914, actor Harry Fox was appearing in shows in New York with Yansci Dolly in an act of Hammerstein's.

People at the Jardin de Danse - on the roof of the New York Theatre - soon started to copy the act that Harry was putting on downstairs, leading them to refer to the dance as Fox's Trot.


During the 1920s many bands played the Foxtrot too fast and some couples couldn't keep up.

Over time, a faster version was born absorbing extra elements of ragtime such as the Charleston.

This led to the creation of what we today call the Quickstep.

Latin American


The dance relies on the age-old premise of the lady trying to dominate the gentlemen by means of her womanly charms.

Incorporating all the elements of teasing and withdrawal, it is considered the most sensual of the Latin dances.


It is believed that the word Samba is derived from a West African Bantu word meaning to pray or invoke the spirits of ancestors.

It is rumoured to be a dance that can excite people to such an extent, it sends them into a trance.

It is danced annually at the Rio Carnival in Brazil.


From its beginnings in 1927, the dance soon became equated with youth.

Older adults disapproved of it and tried to ban it from dance halls claiming it disturbed other dancers who were progressing anti-clockwise around the floor.

It was brought to Europe by American GIs during World War II but was danced underground due to its "corrupting influence".

Paso Doble

The Paso Doble is based on the bullfight. The man represents the bullfighter, Torero, and the lady the red cape or cappa.

It is danced to the characteristic march music used for the procession at the beginning of a corrida.

Cha Cha Cha

When the English dance teacher Pierre Lavelle visited Cuba in 1952, he realised that sometimes the Rumba was danced with extra beats.

When he returned to Britain, he started teaching these steps as a separate dance.

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