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Italy is a country full of history, art and traditions that made our peninsula unique all over the world. One of the most eradicated heritage in Italy is dance, and particularly ballroom dance. In Italian, this kind of dancing is known as “ballo liscio” which differs from all other dances for its style.

The “liscio” has spread in many regions of the country but it is mostly danced in Northern Italy. It was born in Romagna between the end of the 19th and the first decade of the 20th century. The founder of this genre was Carlo Brighi.

The most important exponent and musician of this genre of dance was the violinist Secondo Casadei. He composed many songs for “liscio dancing” and was the author of the famous song “Romagna mia”. His nephew was the famous musician and composer Raoul Casadei, a legend in Italy. Thanks to his innovative approach to the “liscio” music, Casadei changed and revolutionized the concept of this dance. One of his greatest successes is “Ciao Mare”.

Italian Liscio Dancing

Mazurka, waltz and polka are the three variants of the “liscio dancing”.

“Liscio” is not only something to practice for fun: it is also a moment in which people can meet, dance and talk. “Balere” are the places in which ladies and gents pirouette all around. It’s not only an older people kind of dance, but there are also young people and professional dancers who practice the “liscio”. One might think that ballroom dances are just for “adults”, but it is not like that at all. Actually, tradition and modernity meet in dance halls and “standard dances” like waltz, slow fox, tango, Viennese waltz and quick step are an example of it.

“liscio”, which became standard dancing all over the world and is different from the "Italian liscio”, is a real sport.

Kristina Charitanovaite is a professional dancer from Lithuania who practices standard dances. She won many awards with her dance partner Marco Bodini and they also became Italian and European champions in different categories.

Italian Dancing

Hello Kristina! Tell us something about you, how did your career as a dancer start? How did you get closer to ballroom dancing?

Hi! Well, when I talk about my beginning I always jokingly say that I was born in a dance hall because my mom is a dance teacher and when I was little I spent all day watching couples dancing. Then when I was in kindergarten I started to take dance lessons and when I started school I began to practice in the official club where the competitions were held.

I saw you won many awards, did you?

During the last years with my dance partner Marco we became Italian champions in youth and under 21 standard categories (in 2017, in 2018 and in 2019); European champions in youth category (2017, Bratislava) and also World champions in youth and under 21 of standard dance category (2017, Riga and 2019, Bilbao).

Baltic grand prix

In your opinion why ballroom dancing is often overlooked by young people compared to other dances?

I think “liscio” is overlooked by young people because they associate this kind of dance with fairs where people dance just for fun and not because they have a goal to reach. Actually “liscio”, which became standard dancing all over the world and is different from the "Italian liscio”, is a real sport.

This kind of dance might not be taken so seriously by young people, but as a matter of fact is full of young champions that spread a part of Italian traditions all over the world, just like Kristina and Marco do.

Italian Liscio
Image credit: Nikoline Foto

Follow Kristina and join her on this beautiful journey of ballroom dancing here.

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