Terpsis Chorou

European Dances

In Europe, social and popular dances, which were practically identical, started differentiating around the 14th century, when the popular circular dances moved towards the interior of English aristocratic houses. Partner dances made their appearance in the 15th and 16th centuries, in various forms. Social dancing, with influences from the upper classes of France and Italy, appeared in the mid-16th and 17th centuries. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Europe is mainly excited by the Polka, the Mazurka, and especially the Waltz; from the early 20th century and onwards however everyone is dancing to the rhythm of the Foxtrot, the Tango and Swing under the strong musical and dancing influences of America.

Swing was danced for the first time in 1923 in Charleston by African dockworkers. The Savoy Ballroom was the most popular swing club in New York, where the first aerial moves were performed, making Swing famous throughout the USA. George "Shorty" Snowden changed its name to the Lindy Hop, comparing the crazy steps and fast Swing moves with aviator Charles Augustus Lindbergh "Lucky Lindy's" flight from New York to Paris.

Τhe Foxtrot becomes the most popular dance around the end of the 1940's. It is thought to have been named after the actor, dancer and musician Harry Fox, who experimented with two older dances (One Step, Two Step), which were introduced to America in 1914 by Vernon and Irene Castle.

The origins of the Waltz, which was the first partner dance, can be traced back to Austrian and German villagers of the 13th century. In the 18th century it was introduced to Vienna and then went on to take over Europe, as the Viennese Waltz.

( Professional Education )

Vassilis M. Mathioudakis
Head of Studies
International Dance Council CID
Member of the International Dance Council CID