While historically ballroom dance may refer to any form of formal social dancing as recreation, with the eminence of dancesport in modern times the term has become much narrower in scope, usually referring specifically to the International Standard and International Latin style dances (see dance groupings below). In the United States, two additional variations—"American Smooth" and "American Rhythm"—have also been popularized and are commonly recognized as styles of "ballroom dance".
The term "ballroom dancing" is derived from the word ball, which in turn originates from the Latin word ballare which means "to dance". In times past, ballroom dancing was "social dancing" for the privileged, leaving "folk dancing" for the lower classes. These boundaries have since become blurred, and it should be noted even in times long gone, many "ballroom" dances were really elevated folk dances.
The can-can (also spelled cancan, Can Can) is regarded today primarily as a music hall dance, performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wear costumes with long skirts, petticoats, and black stockings, harking back to the fashions of the 1890s. The main features of the dance are the lifting up and manipulation of the skirts, with high kicking and suggestive, provocative body movements.
Baryshnikov, whose name is sometimes transliterated as Baryshinikov or Barishinikov, was born in Riga, Latvia to Russian parents. His mother enrolled him in the School of Theatre Opera Ballet in Riga when he was twelve. In time, he decided to follow a career as a dancer.
Baryshnikov was a unique dancer in many ways. He was short and thus had to work hard to prove his suitability for roles such as Siegfried in Swan Lake where a taller, more noble bearing was expected. His dancing was renowned for its textbook form, technical brilliance, and emotional detachment.