Eurovision Dance Contest – BBC One, Saturday 1 September 2007
International DanceSport Federation
The International DanceSport Federation (IDSF), instrumental in the creation of the Eurovision Dance contest, is recognised by the International Olympic Committee as the governing body responsible for DanceSport throughout the world.
The federation was set up 50 years ago, when it was known as the International Council of Amateur Dancers.
The name was changed in 1990 to the International DanceSport Federation, underlining the sporting values of this physically demanding activity.
It is a team sport where a male and female partner work together using technique, floorcraft and artistic interpretation in their performance.
DanceSport developed from competition ballroom dancing and today includes all dance styles with a recognised competition structure and a sports-based culture.
The principal disciplines are Standard, Latin American and Ten Dance (which join the five Standard and five Latin dances).
All other disciplines and styles, such as Rock 'n' Roll and Salsa, are associated with the IDSF through its relationships with other International Federations.
Formation dancing in both the Standard and Latin American disciplines involves six or eight couples dancing in synchronised formation.
The IDSF boasts four million registered competitors in 85 countries. There are millions of people around the world participating on a regular basis for their fitness and pleasure.
Each year the IDSF organises World and European Championships in all disciplines, and many other competitions take place throughout the year.
Like most international sports federations, the IDSF depends heavily on volunteer help for its development and growth. There is a small professional staff, who report to the elected officials responsible for policy of the Federation.
More detailed information can be obtained on the IDSF website, www.idsf.net.
EDC2007 dances description
The essential feature of partner dances is the coordinated choreography between two partners as opposed to individuals "doing their own thing".
As a rule the partners maintain contact, for some dances in a loose "dancehold", and in others with body contact, called "dance frame". One partner, typically the man, is the leader with the other partner as the follower.
There are five Standard dances: Viennese Waltz, Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep and Tango, and five Latin Dances: Samba, Cha-Cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive.
For the Eurovision Dance Contest, Salsa and Argentina Tango have been added to the list that competitors have received to select their first dance.
1. Viennese Waltz
The Viennese Waltz is the oldest of all ballroom dances even if it has not always been that popular: originally, it was considered to be too indecent to be danced by young, single girls. Only married women were allowed to waltz in the years before the French Revolution.
Dancing masters saw the Waltz as a threat to their profession, and rejected it as the basic steps of the Waltz could be learned in relatively short time, whereas the Minuet and other court dances required considerable practice, not only to learn the many complex figures, but also to develop suitable postures.
The Viennese Waltz was also criticised on moral grounds by those opposed to its closer hold and rapid turning movements. Religious leaders regarded it as vulgar and sinful.
Continental court circles refused to accept it.
In England, the Viennese Waltz was accepted even more slowly. Only through endless balls, receptions and "rendoutes" (less formal balls) during the time of the Vienna Congress in 1814 and 1815 did the Viennese Waltz start to become socially respectable.
Several composers picked up the dance and created endless variations. Most notably Josef Lanner and his rivals Johann Strauss the Older and Johann Strauss the Younger were the promoters of the Viennese Waltz.
The Viennese Waltz is a rotary dance, danced at about 180 beats per minute. A true Viennese Waltz consists only of turns and change steps, where the dancers are constantly turning either in a clockwise (natural) or anti-clockwise (reverse) direction. Furthermore, in a properly danced Viennese Waltz, couples turn continuously left and right while dancing counter clockwise around the floor.
2. Waltz (Slow Waltz or English Waltz)
At the end of the 19th century, two modifications of the Viennese Waltz were developed.
The first was the Boston, a slower Waltz with long gliding steps. Although the Boston disappeared with the First World War, it did stimulate the development of the English or International style which continues today.
The second was the Hesitation, which involves taking one step to three beats of the measure. Hesitation steps are still widely used in today's Waltz. It is danced to slow (preferably 28-30 measures per minute) waltz music in 3/4 time.
It is expected that the first beat of a measure is accented.
Most of the basic figures have one step per one beat, i.e. three steps per measure. Advanced figures may have four to six steps per measure, and this, coupled with various turns, makes the dance very dynamic despite the relatively slow tempo.
At the same time, advanced dancers often use slow steps and elegant poses to create contrast (sometimes referred to as "light and shade").
Waltz is usually the first dance in the DanceSport competitions in the Standard category.
The dance is danced exclusively in the closed position and, like all dances of Standard category, it is a progressive dance. It is characterised by the pendulum swing body action. Other general elements of ballroom technique important for Waltz are foot parallelism, rise and fall, contra body movement and sway.
The Foxtrot is a ballroom dance which takes its name from its inventor, the vaudeville actor Harry Fox.
According to legend, Fox was unable to find female dancers capable of performing the more difficult Two-step. As a result, he added stagger steps (two trots), creating the basic Foxtrot rhythm of slow-slow-quick-quick.
The dance was premiered in 1914, quickly catching the eye of the talented husband and wife duo, Vernon and Irene Castle, who gave the dance its signature grace and style.
The elite of the dancing world were soon trying to capture the unusual style of movement and when a talented American, G.K. Anderson, came over to London, and won competitions with Josephine Bradley, he created the real style of the Foxtrot.
At the beginning, the Foxtrot was danced to ragtime. Today, the dance is customarily accompanied by the same big band music to which Swing is also danced.
The Foxtrot was the most significant development of all ballroom dancing.
The combination of quick and slow steps permits more flexibility and gives much greater dancing pleasure than the one-step and two-step which it has replaced. There is more variety in the Foxtrot than in any other dance, and in some ways it is the hardest dance to learn.
Over time, Foxtrot split into slow (Foxtrot) and quick (Quickstep) versions. In the context of International Standard Category of ballroom dances, for some time Foxtrot was called Slow Foxtrot, or Slowfox. These names are still in use, to distinguish it from other types of Foxtrot.
It is danced in a smooth, fluid and continuous movement around the floor without pronounced rise and fall.
It is considered the most difficult of the five Standard dances, both technically and musically.
The Quickstep evolved from a combination of the Foxtrot, Charleston, Shag, Peabody and One Step in the Twenties. This dance is English in origin and was standardised in 1927.
The Quickstep now is quite separate from the Foxtrot. Unlike the modern Foxtrot, the man often closes his feet, and syncopated steps are regular occurrences as was the case in early Foxtrot.
In some ways, the dance patterns are close to the Waltz, but are danced to 4/4 time rather than 3/4 time.
This dance gradually evolved into a very dynamic one with a lot of movement on the dance floor and many advanced patterns including hops, runs, quick steps with a lot of momentum, and rotation.
The tempo of quickstep dance is rather fast as it was developed to ragtime era jazz music which is very quick paced compared to other dance music.
Performed by advanced dancers the pace has increased even more, due to the extensive use of steps with eighth note durations.
While in older times quickstep patterns were counted with "quick" (one beat) and "slow" (two beats) steps, many advanced patterns today are cued with split beats, such as "quick-and-quick-and-quick-quick-slow".
Tango is one of the most fascinating of all dances. Originating in Spain or Morocco, the Tango was introduced to the New World by the Spanish settlers, eventually coming back to Spain with Black and Creole influences.
The dance spread throughout Europe in the 1900s. Originally popularized in New York in the winter of 1910/11, Rudolph Valentino then made the Tango a hit in 1921.
Ballroom Tango, divided in recent decades into the "International" (English) and "European" styles, is descended from the Tango styles that developed when the Tango first went abroad.
The dance was simplified, adapted to the preferences of conventional ballroom dancers, and incorporated into the repertoire used in international ballroom dance competitions.
Subsequently the English Tango evolved mainly as a highly competitive dance, while the American Tango evolved as an unjudged social dance with an emphasis on developing "leading" and "following" skills.
This has resulted in some distinctions in basic technique and style but mutual borrowing of technique and dance patterns happens all the time.
Ballroom Tangos have lots of staccato movements and characteristic "head snaps". The body is initially set in motion across the floor through the flexing of the lower joints (hip, knee, ankle) while the feet are delayed, then the feet move quickly to catch the body, resulting in snatching or striking action that reflects the staccato nature of this style's preferred music.
The Samba originated in Brazil. It was and still is danced as a festival dance during street festivals and celebrations.
It was first introduced in the United States in a Broadway play called Street Carnival in the late Twenties. The festive style and mood of the dance has kept it alive and popular to this day.
Samba is a fun dance that fits most of today's popular music as it is a lively, rhythmical dance in 2/4 time.
Its origins include the Maxixe and there are two major streams of Samba dance that differ significantly: the modern Ballroom Samba and the traditional Brazilian Samba.
The Ballroom Samba is danced to music in 2/4 or 4/4 time. The basic movements are counted either 1-2 or 1-a-2, and are danced with a slight downward bouncing or dropping action. This action is created through the bending and straightening of the knees. The dance movements, which do not change regardless of the style of samba music being played, borrow some movements from Afro-Brazilian traditional dances.
The dance was originally known as the Cha-Cha-Cha.
In 1951, Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrín introduced the Cha-Cha-Cha to Cuban dance floors while playing with Orquesta América. According to Jorrín, the sound made by the shoes of the dancers on the floor sounded like "cha-cha-cha", while they tried to follow the new rhythm.
The dance is an offshoot of the Mambo.
As in the slow Mambo tempo, there was a distinct sound in the music that people began dancing to, which was then called the "Triple" Mambo.
Eventually it evolved into a separate dance, known today as the Cha Cha.
The dance consists of three quick steps (triple step or Cha Cha Cha) and two slower steps on the one beat and two beat. The tempo of the Cha Cha is 128 beats per minute which makes it a medium tempo Latin dance.
The basis of the modern Cha Cha dance was laid down in the Sixties by Walter Laird and other top competitors of the time.
Rumba is a dance originally related to the Rumba genre of Afro-Cuban music. There are two sources of the dance: one Spanish and the other African.
Although the main growth was in Cuba, there were similar dance developments which took place in other Caribbean islands and in Latin America generally.
The "Rumba influence" came in the 16th century with black slaves being transported from Africa.
The native Rumba folk dance is essentially a sex pantomime danced extremely quickly with exaggerated hip movements and with a sensually aggressive attitude on the part of the man and a defensive attitude on the part of the woman.
The music is played with a staccato beat with vigorous expressive movements of the dancers. Accompanying instruments include the maracas, the claves, the marimbola and the drums.
In Europe, the introduction of Latin American dancing, and Rumba in particular, was launched by the genius of Monsieur Pierre who popularised Rumba dancing in London together with his partner Doris Lavelle. The couple introduced the true "Cuban Rumba" which was finally established as the official recognised version in 1955 after lots of arguments.
Some dancers consider Rumba the most erotic and sensual Latin dance because of its relatively slow rhythm combined with the hip movement.
9. Paso Doble
Paso Doble or Pasodoble is a lively style of dance to march-like music.
It originated in southern France, but is modelled after the sound, drama, and movement of the Spanish bullfight during the bullfighters' entrance (paseo) or during the passes (faena) just before the kill.
The leader of this dance plays the part of the matador. The follower generally plays the part of the matador's cape, but can also represent the bull or a flamenco dancer in some figures.
Paso Doble, like Samba, is a progressive International Latin dance.
The Paso Doble is the Latin dance most resembling the International Standard style because forward steps are taken with the heel lead, the frame is wider and more strictly upright, and there is significantly different and less hip movement.
Because of its inherently choreographed tradition, ballroom Paso Doble is mostly danced only competitively, almost never socially, at least not without sticking to some sort of previously-learned routine.
This said, in Spain, France, Vietnam and some parts of Western Germany it is danced socially as a lead but not choreographed dance.
Jive is a dance style in 4/4 rhythm that originated from African-Americans in the early Forties.
Among its influences are the Lindy Hop from the Thirties, Blues Swing, Boogie Jive Woogie from the Forties and the Jitterbug and the Rock 'n' Roll from the Fifties.
US soldiers brought these dances to Europe during the Second World War, where they swiftly found a following among the young.
However, it was never far from criticism as a foreign, vulgar dance. The famous ballroom dancing guru, Alex Moore, said that he had "never seen anything uglier".
Jive was adopted in 1968 as the fifth Latin American dance.
In competition it is danced at a speed of 44 bars per minute, otherwise at between 32 and 40 beats per minute.
English instructors developed the elegant and lively Jive, which was then danced to slightly slower music.
11. Argentine Tango
Argentine Tango consists of a variety of styles that developed in different regions of Argentina and Uruguay.
The dance developed in response to many cultural elements, such as the crowding of the venue and even fashions in clothing.
Even though all those styles developed in South America, they were also exposed to influences re-imported from Europe and Northern America. Consequently there is a good deal of overlap between the styles as they are now danced.
Argentine Tango is danced in an embrace that can vary from very open, in which leader and follower connect at arm's-length, to very closed, in which the connection is chest-to-chest, or anywhere in between.
Close embrace is often associated with the more traditional styles, while open embrace leaves room for many of the decorations and figures that are associated with a newer style, the Tango Nuevo.
Salsa refers to a fusion of informal dance styles having roots in the Caribbean (especially Cuba), Latin America and North America, even if there is also a strong African influence in the music and the dance.
The name "Salsa" is the Spanish word for sauce, suggesting (in American Spanish) a spicy flavour.
Salsa is a slot or spot dance, ie, the partners do not need to travel over the dance floor but usually occupy a fixed area, rotating around one another and exchanging places. Travelling is not ruled out, but is more used in a staged Salsa performance.
Salsa is danced on a core rhythm that lasts for two measures of four beats each. The basic step typically uses three steps each measure.
Typically, the music involves complex African percussion rhythms and can range from slow at about 120 beats per minute to its fastest at around 180 beats per minute.