Chicago Ballroom Dancing Lessons

Meet our Chicago Ballroom Dance Instructors

Dee McCord – Owner / Master Instructor

Dee has been dancing for over 15 years and is trained in over two dozen forms of partner dance including Ballroom dancing. Learn more about Dee McCord.

Cassaundra Spargur – Dance Director / Master Instructor

Cassaundra has been teaching ballroom dance since 1999. She has lived, trained and competed globally in Ballroom dance. Learn more about Cassaundra Spargur.

J.R. “Zano” Manzano – Resident Instructor

Zano was born in Hawaii where he discovered his passion for ballroom dancing as his grandparents were ballroom dance instructors. Learn more about J.R. Manzano.

All about Ballroom Dancing

Ballroom dancing includes almost any type of dance that involves partners. And although it has become common at social gatherings all over the world, it is no longer limited solely to the dance floor; it also is enjoyed on stage, in film and on television, and has formed its own class of competitive dance.

The Different Styles of Ballroom Dancing

There are a variety of styles of American, international and social nightclub ballroom dances, and each style has its own specific steps and moves. American ballroom dancing is generally only seen in the United States and is viewed mainly as a social activity, whereas international ballroom dancing is practiced all over the world and is commonly used for competitions.

American styles are broken into two main categories: smooth and rhythm. Smooth dances include the waltz, the tango, the foxtrot and the Viennese waltz. Rhythm dances include the Cha-Cha-Cha, the rumba, the East Coast Swing, the West Coast Swing, the bolero, the mambo and the samba.

International styles are divided into two categories as well: standard and Latin. Although many international dances share names with American dances, their move sets and styles vary. Standard dances include the waltz, the tango, the foxtrot and the Viennese waltz. Latin dances includes the samba, the Cha-Cha-Cha, the rumba, the paso doble and the jive.

The Beginning of Ballroom Dancing

Ballroom dancing gets its name from the latin word “ballare,” which means “to dance.” The oldest recorded knowledge of ballroom dancing can be traced back to the late-16th century in Europe. A study of French Renaissance social dances in 1588 describes several ballroom dances, such as the basse danse, the livelier branle, the pavane and the galliard. Some claim ballroom dancing goes back as early as the 15th century to a style of dance practiced by peasants in western France.

The oldest ballroom dance that exists today is the waltz. Nobody has been credited with its creation, but it seems to have originated in Vienna and the alpine area of Austria in the early 17th century. At that time, the waltz was quite scandalous because it was the first time that men and women danced while embracing each other so closely in public. But the elegance and charm of the waltz was captivating, and people began to accept it as time went on. It dominated dance floors in France throughout the 18th century.

How Ballroom Dancing Has Evolved

It was during the 19th century that ballroom dancing – particularly the waltz – took off in England. During that time, new ballroom dances, such as the polka, the mazurka and the schottische, made their way to the floor.

The 20th century is when modern ballroom dancing began to form; it started to allow partners to move independently. Jazz also became the preferred choice for popular music, which led to the creation of many new ballroom dance styles. Ballroom dancing also made its way to the big screen for the first time in the 1930s, boosting its popularity.

As ballroom dancing became more popular, professional dancers began to push for more distinct move sets for different styles so that everyone – not just professionals – could learn the dances. And with the creation of specific moves came competitions.

Today, competitions are run by the World Dance Council and are commonly categorized as DanceSport. These competitions are available to people all over the world at various levels of proficiency, ranging from amateur to professional. DanceSport has come to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee. The most prestigious DanceSport competition is the Blackpool Dance Festival in England. Every competitive ballroom dancer dreams of going to it.

The Most Famous Ballroom Dancers

The most famous ballroom dancers – although their fame did not come from dancing in ballrooms – were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; they became famous for their dancing career together on the big screen. Fred Astaire also was known for dancing on stage and on television.

The most well-known American ballroom dancers are Vernon and Irene Castle. They competed, taught and performed on Broadway and in silent films together.

In England, Victor Silvester takes the lead as the most famous ballroom dancer. He also was a very successful bandleader and musician who had a major impact on ballroom dancing at the beginning of the 20th century.

Ballroom dancing has a unique and long history with roots spanning all throughout Europe. It has evolved through many centuries and has evolved into several elegant styles of partner dances all over the world.

We offer lessons for several different ballroom dances. Whether you’re looking to learn for fun or are preparing for a special occasion, please contact our studio to find out when classes start.