Having a Ball

People today can’t imagine what their ancestors did for entertainment without television, computers and CD players. But the fact is, in many cultures, those ancients were having a ball.

In the “civilized” world, the traditional form of entertainment at court, and the castles or manors of the rich, was a ball. The evening might start with a multi-course dinner, entertainers while the meal was being taken, and then removing themselves to a huge, open hall where musicians would then provide the accompaniment for dancing.

Paintings and sketches from the medieval era are rich with the details of costumes and figures of the dance, while written records lay down the actual moves, and how the male partner was to approach the lady.

Today, the skill of dancing is largely forgotten, except in groups dedicated to keeping alive the beauty of the ballroom dances, either for fun, or competition. Those contests, consisting of five standardized dances: the modern waltz, tango, slow foxtrot, Viennese waltz and quickstep, are practiced for hours, in order to perfect the technique that makes them such a breath-taking display.

Even Brigham Young University in Utah, home of the Mormon Church, offers classes each semester in the skills of gliding about the floor with your partner. And little wonder. They have one of the best ballroom formation dance teams in modern competition.

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