DANCE STYLES

LEARN MANY POPULAR DANCE STYLES, HISTORY, BASIC MOVES, STEPS & SONGS!

They say that dance is a great way to express your emotions. While this may sound like such a cliché, the quote seems to have endured throughout the years mainly because there’s truth to it. It’s wise to choose an activity that encourages you to express your very own creativity. Now it all boils down to that one question: So you think you can dance? Definitely! And that’s because there’s a style available for anyone who wants to overcome the problem with their two left feet. As you glide across the expanse of the ballroom, you can now let your innermost emotions shine forth with a step that is truly representative of whom you are as a person. There are several styles to choose from and you need to know how each dance is unique from the other.

Waltz

This “mother of all dances” originated in Italy in the 1600’s as a round dance called the Volte. It arrived in America during the early 1800’s and was the first social dance in which a woman was actually held in a man’s arms. Learning to Waltz is elegant. The Waltz develops “graceful movement” and “poise”. Every wedding reception, social “black-tie” formal and holiday party includes Waltz steps.

Rumba

The Rumba is an ever increasingly popular romantic Latin dance dating back some 400 years ago, and is better known as the Latin get acquainted dance or the dance with the wiggle. The Rumba sometimes substitutes for those in-between tempos and features a subtle or relaxed (lateral) hip motion and Latin styling. Rumba hip movements are used in most of the popular Latin dances as well as the free-style of disco and night club dancing.

Foxtrot

Created in 1912 by Harry Fox, the Fox Trot was the first dance that permitted people to hold each other closer than arm’s length. If you think the term “dirty dancing” was a product of the 80s, think again. The Fox Trot was at first to be tagged “indecent behavior”. Today it’s still the most popular of all social dances. Some people refer to the Fox Trot as the “Slow Dance” or the “Two-Step”, or a “Conversational Dance” because of its closeness and conversation ability at the same time. The Fox Trot is good for developing “smoothness” and “ease of movement”.

Cha Cha

An offshoot of the Mambo, the Cha Cha evolved out of popular movement in slow-tempo Mambo called the Triple Mambo. By 1954 it had evolved into a dance all its own. It’s a must style to know, the all time favorite Latin dance.

Hustle

A kind of dancing more than a specific dance, Disco has strong roots in Swing, Samba, Cha Cha, Mambo, Merengue, Fox Trot and Tango. The most popular version, the Hustle (of “Saturday Night Fever” fame), is believed to have originated in New York in 1970. This free form style is still one of the most popular at all night clubs and socials.

Swing

First known as the Lindy (in honor of Charles Lindberg and his historic hop across the Atlantic), this perennially popular dance emerged the late 1920’s. It combined steps from the Black Bottom it was also the Bop and Push, the Hustle and Boot Scoot, Shag, Charleston and Hop. During the war years it re-emerged on the East Coast as the Jitterbug-jive and on the West Coast as Swing. You can Rock & Roll with Swing.

Salsa

A peppery version of the Mambo laced with steps from other Latin dances. The Salsa is performed to a fiery, faster tempo. Some call it a form of Latinized Rock and Roll. It’s high-energy and all fun.

Samba

A street Festival dance that originated in Brazil, the Samba was introduced to the United States in the late 1920’s in a Broadway play called “Street Carnival”. Samba is a very fun, energetic with a strong rhythmic beat.

Tango

Rudolph Valentino single-handedly danced this Latin import into nationwide popularity beginning in 1910. Although widely believed to have originated in Argentina, it actually may have come from Spain. It’s dramatic, exciting and known as the Dancer’s Dance. The Tango with all its staccato movements, greatly improves a man’s lead or a woman’s ability to follow (respond) and develops a strong sense of feeling for music.

Argentine Tango

Originated in the West Indies where it was danced only by the lowest classes. The name is from the African Tanganya. The dance found its way into Argentina and then to France and finally into the United States in a modified form about 1914. Latin American ballroom Tango is danced in 4/4 time. NOTE: See also Tango.

Mambo

Introduced by band leader Anselmo Sacaras in 1944, the Mambo – a merger of Swing and Rumba – didn’t really catch on until the 1950s and it remains very popular today.

Merengue

Considered too scandalous when it was introduced to the United States in 1941, the Merengue went into eclipse until 1957 when Xavier Cugat resurrected it. Its point of origin is uncertain, both Haiti and the Dominican Republic claim it, and it contains elements of both cultures. It’s fun and exciting.

Bolero

Originally a Spanish dance in 3/4 time, it was changed in Cuba initially into 2/4 time then eventually into 4/4. It is now present as a very slow type of Rumba rhythm. The music is frequently arranged with Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually implemented with Conga or Bongos.

Hustle

A kind of dancing more than a specific dance, Disco has strong roots in Swing, Samba, Cha Cha, Mambo, Merengue, Fox Trot and Tango. The most popular version, the Hustle (of “Saturday Night Fever” fame), is believed to have originated in New York in 1970. This free form style is still one of the most popular at all night clubs and socials.

West Coast Swing

A stylized Swing dance popular west of the Mississippi from Kansas to California. Danced in a slot to medium to slow Swing or Disco music and characterized by slot movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and push and pull action of the dancers.

Lindy Hop

Named by Ray Bolger, after Colonel Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic. This Swing had as much “getting into the air” as possible. However, the violently acrobatic style used for exhibitions is not the same as the quietly rhythmic Lindy enjoyed by good dancers on the ballroom floor. The rhythmic patterns takes place over two measures of music. The more acrobatic versions were limited to ballrooms of which the most famous was the New York’s Savoy Harlem. NOTE: At one time the Jitterbug included the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shag and Lindy Hop. It has now been consolidated into Lindy Hop in Eastern U.S. and on the West Coast the West Coast Swing.

Carolina Shag

Shag dancing is essentially an offshoot of swing, specifically postwar styles like the Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing. The Carolina Shag is a popular state dance that is best known for its fast footwork danced to the sounds of beach and mo-town music.

Jitterbug

A toned down version of a Lindy Hop which is faster and happier than the American Rock ‘n’ Roll or Swing.

Bachatta

Bachata is a type of music and dance originally created in the rural countrysides of the Dominican Republic. Similar to the blues, Bachata music is often sad, relating tales of heartbreak and bitterness. Bachata dancing is relatively up-tempo though, and consists of basic back and forth or sideways motions. Because of its history as a dance between lovers, there are many sensual hip and body movements, with the opportunity for dance partners to move very close to each other.

Paso Doble

The Spanish March or One Step. It makes an especially good exhibition routine when the man styles his body movements to look like a bullfighter and leads his partner in and out of the patterns as if she were a cape. It is usually in 2/4 time.

Country Western 2-Step

The Two-Step originated in the 1800’s by people who arrived here from Europe. It was an offspring of the minuet and they danced it as QQSS. In the old Western days when women were not allowed to dance with men, men danced together and that is the reason for the hand on the shoulder holding a can of beer and the other hand to the side. The only women who eventually danced with these men were Indian Squaws and that is where all the turns came about, because Indian women loved to spin. Two-step is a Western dance whose popularity has spread all over the United States.

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