The Foxtrot is one of the most deceiving dances. It looks very easy, but is one of the most difficult dances to do. The dance originated in 1913 when a vaudeville performer by the name of Harry Fox performed a little trot which appealed to the social dance teachers in New York and thus the Foxtrot was born. It has gone through many changes since that time, and is now comprised of more soft and fluid linear movements.
The Waltz appeared as a fashionable dance in Bohemia, Austria, Bavaria and other parts of Europe in the late 1700’s. Danced in 3/4 timing, the recurring, even beats of music send the dancers whirling around the floor enjoying the thrill of the Waltz movement.
The Viennese Waltz is a fast Waltz which originated in Austria. Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss wrote the first waltzes in the early 19th century. In the middle of the 20th century, the German, Paul Krebs choreographed the Viennese Waltz style to which we dance today. The dance enjoyed a great deal of popularity not only in Europe, but also in America, and has been used in many Hollywood productions.
The Tango originated in the bordellos of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is done in a slightly different manner than other dances. The hold is very different, with the lady’s arm under the mans, which creates a tighter hold for a quick staccato action and stylized poses.
The American Style Tango is progressive, moving along the line of dance using staccato movement of the feet and flexed knees. The unique rhythm of the music is great training for timing and phrasing which develops as the dancer becomes more proficient.
As the name implies, the Quickstep is a very quick and lively dance, comprised of hops, skips and kicks. The dance began as a quick version of Foxtrot mixed with the Charleston, and musical Jazz influences.
East Coast Swing
This dance is frequently referred to as Triple Step swing due to the rhythm of the basic triple step. This dance consists of six and eight count patterns, which require a rock step back by both man and woman to begin. It is a circular dance that is danced with a bounce and is very grounded and not high in the legs. This bounce requires the dancer to stay very smooth and not jump around much. East Coast swing is the base for all swing dances.
West Coast Swing
This dance consists of six and eight count patterns, which are done in a slot. The woman no longer rocks back as in East Coast swing, but instead she always walks forward on count one. This dance is usually done to medium tempo swing music, frequently slower than East Coast swing. However, those who achieve a high skill level in this dance can and do dance it to faster tempo music. This dance has no bounce and a very smooth feel. Rarely will you see high kicks or moves which require the dancer to leave the floor.
The Hustle (Disco) is a member of the Swing family, and is like the West Coast Swing in pattern. It has a distinct flavor, utilizing Disco style music & revived partnerstyle among nightclub dancers in the 70s. Hustle is danced to the contemporary pop dance music of the last 20 years. It is a fast, smooth dance, with the lady spinning almost constantly, while her partner draws her close and sends her away.
This dance is the European version of East Coast swing. Six and eight count patterns make up this dance, as in East Coast swing but it is quite bouncy with very sharp kicks and flicks. Unlike East Coast swing, Jive is danced to a faster tempo swing music and is meant for competitive style dancing.
An exciting, syncopated, Latin dance, which originated in the 1950s as a slowed down Mambo, the Cha Cha gathers its personality, character, rhythm, basis, and charm from two major dance sources. It is a derivation of the Mambo through its Latin music, and it is also a stepchild of the Swing, as it is danced to a 1-2-3 step rhythm. The Cha Cha gets its name and character from its distinct repetitive foot rhythm.
The Rumba was originally a courtship, marriage, and street dance that was African in origin. The Rumba met some opposition from society’s upper crust because of the suggestive body and hip movements. The characteristic feature is to take each step without initially placing the weight on that step. Steps are made with a slightly bent knee which, when straightened causes the hips to sway from side to side, in what has come to be known as Cuban Motion.
The spicy Mambo as we now know it grew out of the Danzon (national music of Cuba), and grasped the imagination of the American dance scene at the close of World War II. Later, fast Swing-Jazz and upbeat Latin music joined in to form the updated and uninhibited Mambo. The Mambo is a spot dance and the steps are quite compact.
The Samba is a lively Brazilian dance which was first introduced in 1917 and was finally adopted as a ballroom dance by Brazilian society in 1930. It is sometimes referred to as a Samba, Carioca, a Baion or a Batucado. The difference is mainly in the tempo, since the steps in all four dances are very similar. The style is to bounce steadily and smoothly in 2/4 meter. They say that the Samba was introduced in the United States in 1939 by the late Carmen Miranda.
The Paso Doble is a theatrical Spanish dance that characterizes the man as the matador and the lady as his cape. Based on Flamenco dancing, the character of the dance is arrogant and passionate. Paso Doble translates to “Double Step”.
The Merengue is a popular dance of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and is a truly lively Latin dance. There is an old tale about a very brave and famous military officer who was wounded in battle and developed a limp. A celebration dance was given for the great hero returning from the war. Rather than embarrass their hero, who limped on his wounded leg while dancing, all the men present favored their leg as well, & thus the Merengue was born.
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 presented as a very slow type of Rumba rhythm. The music is frequently arranged with Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually using Congas or Bongos.
Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce” denoting a “spicy” and “hot” flavor to this popular dance style to a complex mix of many different rhythms. There are indications the term Salsa was coined by radio disc jockeys in Puerto Rico as early as the 1960’s. Later associated with a New York sound developed by Puerto Rican musicians, Salsa is considered the national music and dance of Puerto Rico. The fusion of an Afro-Cuban beat with enhanced jazz textures results in an aggressive high energy pulse which has become popular everywhere. Many of the patterns are closely related to those of the Mambo and Cha-Cha.