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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aristocrats gathering around Emperor Franz Joseph at a ball in the Hofburg Imperial Palace, painting by Wilhelm Gause (1900).

The first dance is an element in a number of traditions, being an opening of a certain dance function: ball, prom, etc.

Contents

Balls

A Texas debutante and her mother at a Debutante Ball

In the context of balls, the term "first dance" has two meanings.

At various formal balls the first dance was usually performed by a couple which included a person of highest social position in a given context: the Emperor or King, a prince, etc. Their dance was the opening of the ball. Private balls were traditionally opened by the host or hostess.

Since these times the phrase "to open the ball" has become a figure of speech for initiating an activity which will be subsequently continued by others. Quite often the term has been used in descriptions of battle scenes. [1]

In 17th-century France, Minuet, "the Queen of Dances", was the first dance.

In the Victorian era of Great Britain the first dance was a quadrille.[2]

In 19th century Russian Empire balls were opened with Polonaise.

Another meaning is the first occurrence of a young lady in a social gathering. It could have happened either during a usual ball or during a specially arranged debutante ball or cotillion.

Weddings

The "first dance" of a bride and groom is an important component of the wedding ceremony in modern European and American traditions.

Traditionally, the first wedding dance has been Waltz. In modern times ballroom dancing is no longer a widespread skill, and rehearsing the "first dance" has become a lucrative business for dance studios and independent dance instructors. Today more popular dances include the foxtrot, merengue, and swing. Alternatively, many couples just do a "slow dance".

Other

Notable occurrences

  • The first dance of Cinderella was the "first dance" in two senses: it was her first dance, and she was asked to open the ball by the prince

See also

References

  1. ^ From Rudyard Kipling's "The Drums Of The Fore And Aft": Over that pock-marked ground the Regiment had to pass, and it opened the ball with a general and profound courtesy to the piping pickets; ducking in perfect time, as though it had been brazed on a rod.
  2. ^ Thomas E. Hill, "Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette" (1994) ISBN 0-912517-12-3 (paperback)

External links

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