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Dancesport - History

Johnny Wells and Renee Sissons, England
Champions of "the thirties"

Dancesport History

The World Championships
The Standard Dances
The Latin Dances
Formation Dancing
History Photo Gallery


Welcome on our Dance History page. On this page we look backwards in time to see were our Danssport has started and how it was developed during this century. The information about the History of the WorldChampionships was collected in close cooperation with David Simon Holland Dance Promotions and Wiliam Hermans Dansschool Boutkan. The deskwork and research about the other subjects I did myselve. Please pay attention to the copy and publishing rights on this page.
Enjoy yourselves when surfing back in Dancing time.

Best Regards

Piet Rullens

Attention: We disclaim responsibility and cannot accept liability for any inaccurate information. Information, reports photo's and images may not be reproduced without our written permission signed:

© Piet Rullens Rullens Dance Consultancy 1996 all rights reserved, Email:

The World Championships

The art, and specificly the Dance, were in the first decennium of the 20st century the signs of a turnaround. On the same time the Century of the Sports began with the foundation of many national & international organisations. The Olympic Idee was born and the first Olympic games took place in 1896.
What was more clear than the own Dance "Olympia" had to be organised by the dancers. Everything what was new in painting, poetry, music and fashion, but also in dancing found a good "birthplace" in the Art & Seine city of Paris. At that time leading city for everything which was modern. The competition-thought orginally comes from the U.S.A.

The first dancecompetition to be known in Europa, was the Tango-Tournament in Nice. Organised by Camille de Rhynal in 1907 with repeats in Paris. The dance from the "New World"(U.S.A.) obviously were received with much enthusiasm. It was the real beginning, the birth of the Modern Company Dance. Camille de Rhynal, Choreographer and dancer, composer and organiser, with a special instinct for super-business, a great Manager for that time, was by the first succes in Nice encouraged to organise his "Worldchampionships" in Paris in 1909 for the first time. The first Worldchampionships, off course, can't be compared with the present Worldchampionships. However, historically speaking they are very interesting now.

In that time there was no split between Amateurs & Professionals, niether between representing countries. You danced as a couple, if the lady was French and the man was Spanish, it didn't matter a thing. Up to 1921 it was possible to ge Worldchampion per dance. Play instructions and adjucationrules were hardly known. The WC of 1911 in Paris was the first competition to be announced as a Pro/Am - competition. Which meant a pro and an amateur danced together.
At the WC of 1922 in London, it was for the first time to have an allround competition in all than existing dances.

There were different categories, such as Professionals, Amateurs and MIX-couples (Pro Amateur) From 1909 till 1921 the champions from both the Amateurs as Professionals are the same because of no excisting split between them. However since 1922 the split is processed in the summaries. In 1925 Camille de Rhynal got an enormous word-fight with the English and organised next to the excisting WC his own "WC", mostly in Paris.
He found the time ready for the founded national organisations of Amateurs as well as Professionals to strenghten their powers together.

An International Amateur Organisation already excisted so he founded the F.I.D. (Federation International de Danse). Founded on 15-5-1926 in Paris. At 8-9-1929 another Professionals organisation came trough.
A. Traber Amiel in Zurich(Switzerland) founded its L.I.G. (Liga fur Internationale Turniere)(Association for International Tournaments). The F.I.D. and L.I.G. were only "signboards" for the tournaments they both organised. The sportive side of this all was very doubtfull. In the early 30s, on the moment the "Englisch Style" manifested all over Europe, due to the "Great Conference" in London at 14-4-1929, the glory for Camille de Rhynal and his "WC" was over. The really great dancers of that time weren't to be found in Paris at this "WC". The uncrowned worldchampions were to be seen in Blackpool, a festival that started in the 20s en still excists. Also on the "Star" in London were all world-top-couples present. Camille de Rhynal kept on organizing his "WC", but the results were experienced as absurd by the "insiders".

The time from 1946 till 1951 was caracterised by the chaos the 2nd World War left behind in all Europe. The Dance, still a true mirror of its time, is still present although the rough after war time.

Is goes without saying that Camille de Rhynal made new plans to regain his Monopoly. With his old F.I.D., bur also with new organisations (mostly only on paper...) he tries to continue his competitions. In the beginning of 1951 all his attempts failed and he dissapears from the "dance stage". He was a truly important man to the danceworld and he goes in to history as the founder of Modern Company Dance. He was distincted by the French and Italian govrnement, and died on 26-11-1956 in his residence in Nice. However he has become lots of critisism from his "colleagues". For example the famous and well-known Bruno von Kayser from Dusseldorf (Germany) has written a lot of critical articles about the Paris WC.

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The Standard Dances


During 1910-1914 many people went to the Bostonclub in the Savoy Hotel, central London to dance the Bostonwals, the forerunner of our competition Waltz. The Boston, imported from the USA, died at 1914 the basic steps were changed to the direction of the Waltz. After the World War 1 the Waltz started to develop more into the right direction with figures like, the Natural and Reverse turn and the Closed Change. The development process of the Waltz was tough and slowly. Special contribution to the development was given by: Miss Josephine Bradly, Victor Silvester and Maxwell Steward and Pat Sykes first English Champions. An imported institute that contributed to the standardisation of the figures was the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). Many of these variations are still danced by today's competitors.


The Milonga is the forerunner of the Tango. The Milonga had already the characteristic head and shoulder movements that suddenly switched over to stillness. In the beginning of the 20th Century the Milonga was danced in small theatres for the High Society from Brazil. in that period the name was changed from Milonga to Tango, the Milonga name carried to many memories from the ghetto's of Buenos Aires.

The Tango was introduced in Europe, actually in Paris in the Argentine community. Until 1907 the Tango was not accepted in London, the dance was to erotic and had many opponents. After some stylistic changes the Tango was excepted by Paris and London that was the time (1912) of the tango-parties, tango-teas and tango-soupier with professional tango demonstrators.

In 1920/1921 the Tango was standardised at the Conference in London, during the "thirties" the staccato actions merged in to the Tango choreography.

Viennese Waltz

The Viennese waltz originally comes from the South German Alps Area. During the 18th century the dances: Weller, Walzer and Ländler were found, this last dance the Ländler is originally the forerunner of our Viennese Waltz. Between 1800 and 1820 the steps and figures from the Ländler were reduced due to the speed of music and the 6 step Viennese Walz was born.

During the Sixties a lot of discussion was going on between Germany and the U.K concerning the number of Viennese Waltz variations allowed in Competitions. In 1983 the I.C.B.D. took the final decision: Natural and Reverse Turns, Natural and Reverse Fleckerls, The Contra Check change from reverse fleckerl to natural fleckerl danced over one bar of music

In my opinion the may add more figures to the Viennese Waltz to stimulate the developemnt more in a positive direction figures like: Throwaway Oversway, Natural Hinge line on right side, Natural Off-beat Spins.

Slow Foxtrot

The Foxtrot was introduced in Europe just before World War 1, from its origin the Foxtrot was a passional dance with slow and quick movements, they say the name comes from a musical dancer Harry Fox. The European dance teachers were not enthusiastic about the "wild" character of the Foxtrot and started to polish it more. Between 1922 and 1929 Frank Ford, with whom Josephine Bradley used to give demonstrations, developed the basic movements of the Slow Foxtrot. With his interpretation he won the 1927 "Star Championships" with partner Molly Spain. Many of the figures they danced are still used by today's competitors.

Strict tempo music was not yet invented in those days. The Foxtrot could be played at anything from 40 to 50 Bars/min, and it is easy to guess how styles had to be rapidly altered according to who was conducting the band! But once "Victor Silvestor's band began recording the problem was solved.


The Quickstep is derived from the Foxtrot. During the twenties many bands played the Slow Foxtrot too fast, 50 Bars/min, the large open steps from the Foxtrot could not be danced on this speed. The English developed from the original Charleston a progressive dance without kicks and made a mixture with the above mentioned fast foxtrot the called this dance "the Quicktime Foxtrot and Charleston". The English couple Frank Ford and Molly Spain danced on the 'Star' Championships of 1927 a version of this Quicktime Foxtrot and Charleston without the characteristic Charleston knee actions and made it a dance for two instead of solo. The figures were Quarter Turns, Cross Chassées, Zig-zags, Cortes, Open Revers Turns, and Flat Charleston. In 1928/1929 the Quickstep was definitly born with the characteristic chassées steps.

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The Latin Dances


The roots of the Samba are in Africa, but most of the development is done in Brazil, you will recognise the Samba from the Carnival Parties and Samba Schools in Brazil. In 1925 the Samba was imported into Europe. Although the samba was already accepted as a competition Dance, the great breakthrough of the Samba happened on the World exhibition in NEW York in 1939. Europe was really captured by the Samba in 1948/1949. Walter Laird with partner Lorraine developed he Samba enormously.

Cha Cha Cha

Cha-Cha-Cha is developed from the Mambo and a Latin dance that most people like to learn first. The name Cha Cha Cha is a sound imitation of the "shoes" from dancing Cuban women. The Cha Cha Cha was first seen in America and came to Europe almost at the same time with the Mambo the forerunner from the Cha Cha Cha. After the World War II the Mambo was pushed aside by the Cha Cha Cha which became really popular at 1956.

According to its roots the Cha Cha Cha music should be played passioned without any seriousness and with staccato allowing the dancers to project an atmosphere of 'naughtiness" to the audience. Recently it was decided to shorten the name to Cha Cha, Sorry but I don't see any reason for that.


They estimate that the Rumba was brought to America by the African slaves. But arround 1928/1929 the actual steps and figures of this dance were not clear. Many people treated and danced it, like a new type of foxtrot with additional hip actions. After the World War II The rumba was further developed into the "Cuban Rumba" by monsieur Pierre and Doris Lavell which had a school in the Regent street, London but still the standardisation was a problem until Walter Laird started to write his Latin books his work was accepted by many official dance Associations and the standardisation was a fact.

Paso Doble

The Paso Doble is the only Latin Dance with is not coming from the "Negro" culture, the roots of the Paso Doble are in Spain. The peak in popularity of this dance was in 1926. After World War II the Paso Doble was accepted as a Competition Dance.


Jive is a rhythmical and swinging dance which influenced by the Rock & Roll, Boogie and the African/American Swing. The roots of the Jive are in New York, Harlem. In 1940 the jive was developed into the jitterbug and the English Jos Bradly and Alex Moore developed from that the International Competition Jive.

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Formation Dancing

How and were formation dancing was started is not clear. Between 1920 and 1930 in Germany, England and France demonstrations were given by showteams who danced e.g. a Waltz with 4 couples on the floor, these couples danced the same figures in a synchronized manner. In that time no complex pattern were danced and all shows were done on live music. England was on of the forerunners in the development of Formation Dancing.

In 1932 Formation Dancing was shown by Mrs Olive Ripman at the astoria Ballroom. It was introduced as "pattern dancing" or "shadow dancing" which is exactly what it should show to the audience and judges. In that time teams of four couples were allowed to compete, today a Formation team should contain at least 6 couples and preferable 8.

In England Peggy Spencer started in 1938 a four-couple Quickstep team which competed in the first big Formation contest at the "Star" Ball in 1938 , the team of Mrs Olive Ripman won the competition. In the Netherlands at that time Mr Bronmeyer (sr) was one of the first initiators of team/formation dancing.

After the World War II Formation Dancing developed further and in several countries formation competitions were held. In England Formation Dancing (standard) was added to the "Open British" in 1957 winner were the standard team of Peggy Spencer . In 1961 the Latin Formation was added to this world famous dance festival in Blackpool and still every year Formation Dancing is on the program in Blackpool Tuesday evening the standard and Friday evening the Latin.
In Germany the first Official German Championship were held at 1964 well known coaches of that time (some of them are still active) were: Wolfgang Opitz (Hamburg) and Gunter Dreesen (Dusseldorf) the Opitz team "TTC im Harburger Turnerbund" won the first German Championships. But still in this period the British Teams were superior followed by Germany and Denmark, the teams from Freddie Pedersen Kopenhagen.

The first World Championships were in 1973 the winners were TC Harburg, Germany and they were the first team using a special prepared music composition on tape as we know today. In England it was not allowed to use these kind of tapes until 1985 maybe that's why the British teams are still far behind? The first major Championships and there winner were:

European Championships Standard 1965 F& P Spencer Standard Team, England
European Championships Latin 1965 F& P Spencer Latin Team, England
World Championships Standard 1973 TTC Harburg im HTB, Germany
World Championships Latin 1973 TD Rot-Weiss Düsseldorf, Germany

In the Netherlands the first standard Championships were in 1985 and the Latin in 1979 as the Chart shows in the past the team Quick Motion, Soest dominated the Latin and Vida, Doetinchem the Standard.

1985-1986 Quick Motion Soest
1987-1989 Vida Doetinchem
1990 Swing & Sway Meppel
1991-1995 Vida Doetinchem
1996-2002 Moving Action Waalwijk

1979-1981 Quick Motion Soest
1982-1983 Vida Doetinchem
1984-1990 Quick Motion Soest
1991 Double V Hoorn
1992-1993 Vida Doetinchem
1994-1996 Double V Hoorn

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