Rhythm & Latin Dances:
Smooth and Standard Dances:
The romantic Bolero is the slowest of the Latin dances. It combines controlled movement with dramatic expression of the music.
The Bolero has the same Afro-Cuban roots as the Rumba and is thought to have originated from Cuban or Spanish folk dances such as Danzon and Beguine.
The Bolero is usually played in 4/4 time and its tempo is slower than that of the Rumba. While Rumba music is very rhythmical, the lyrical Bolero sounds more like a Latin Ballad.
The Bolero has some different characteristics from its Cuban relative the Rumba. Its long sweeping side steps and use of rise and fall create a softness that makes this dance unique among the Rhythm dances. The expanding and contracting dance position makes a very dramatic and romantic statement.
Bolero songs and artists include:
* Con Los Anos Que Me Quedan - Gloria Estefan
* Perfidia - Nat King Cole
* Sin Excusas Ni Rodeos - Julio Iglesias
* From Here To Eternity - Frank Sinatra
The energetic rhythm of the Cha Cha encourages you to cut loose and let your personality show.
One of the most popular Latin dances in the U.S., the Cha Cha began as a variation of the Mambo called triple Mambo. It was so easy and so much fun, it became the rage of the early 1950's. Its infectious one-two, one-two-three rhythm demands that sitters become dancers. Everybody can learn the Cha Cha.
Cha Cha music is written in 4/4 time and may be played over a wide range of tempos. Often in Cha Cha music, a rhythmical link can be heard between each measure resulting in an overall rhythm of 1,2,3,4 & repeated over and over.
Triple steps (Chasse) and rock steps are the basic components of the Cha Cha. Since the Cha Cha is derived from the Rumba and Mambo, Cuban Motion is an important aspect of this dance.
Cha Cha songs and artists include:
* Oye Como Va - Tito Puente
* Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White - Perez "Prez" Prado and His Orchestra
* Black Magic Woman - Santana
* Bang Bang - David Sanborn
* Smooth - Santa
* Tell Me - Marc Anthony
The Fox Trot provides a good foundation for all dances and is often called the "get-acquainted" or "first impression" dance.
In 1913 a vaudeville comedian named Harry Fox introduced a trot to a ragtime song in the 1913 Ziegfield Follies that pushed other trots into the background. It became America's most popular dance and remains so to this day as the standard of social dances.
Fox Trot music is written in 2/4 or 4/4 time. The first and third beats are accented in 4/4 time. The range of Fox Trot tempos makes it possible to consider Fox Trot as though it were three dances: Slow Fox Trot, Medium Fox Trot and Fast Fox Trot, also called Society Tempo. Fox Trot has two major teaching rhythms: Magic Rhythms - Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick (SSQQ) and Box Rhythm - Slow, Quick, Quick (SQQ).
The basic components of Fox Trot are walking steps and side steps. Crowded dance floors or night club conditions require that all three tempos be expressed with short steps. In larger ballrooms the slow Fox Trot is characterized by longer smooth, gliding steps, demanding ease of movement and control in order to give this dance an unhurried appearance.
Fox Trot songs and artists include:
* New York, New York - Frank Sinatra
* My Baby Only Cares For Me - The Brian Setzer Orchestra
* It Had To Be You - Harry Connick Jr.
The Hustle gives us the fusion of Swing and Disco.
Discotheques with high quality sound systems and flashing lights became a popular form of entertainment in Europe and America in the late 1960's and throughout the 70's. In the early 1970's a new dance craze became popular on the crowded dance floors of New York. This "Touch Disco" was called the Hustle. The Hustle marked a return to popular dances where couples danced touching each other. The popularity of modern and "retro" music with "disco" beat keeps this dance fresh, exciting and full of energy for today.
Disco music is normally written in 2/4 or 4/4 time with a strong bass beat. The melody and beat are based on rhythm and blues and the accent on each of the bass beats makes the music hard to resist.
Turns, spins and wraps are primary components of the Hustle. The more accomplished dancers will use syncopated timing and fakes along with elaborate arm styling.
Hustle songs and artists include:
* I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
* Last Dance - Donna Summer
* Believe - Cher
* Can't Get You Out Of My Head - Kylie Minogue
The wild exciting music and rhythmical body movements make the earthy Mambo irresistible.
In the 1940's Americans became fascinated by Latin American rhythms. The original Mambo music, El Guardia Con El Tolete, had its beginning in 1944 as a Rumba with a riff improvisation. The Mambo combined American Jazz with the Afro-Cuban beat. Arthur Murray Studios became famous for turning out some of the best Mambo dancers of the era. As the parent of Cha Cha and Salsa, the Mambo is an exciting challenge for all dancers.
Mambo music is written in 4/4 time with each measure divided into four beats with the important musical accents occurring on the first and third beats. This dance can be done over a wide range of tempos.
The components of Mambo are rock steps and side steps and foot styling includes points, kicks or flicks. The Latin hip movement in Mambo is an important aspect of the dance. The overall flavor of the dance is contained in the translation of the word Mambo which means "shake it" or "say it".
Mambo songs and artists include:
* Tequila - The Champs
* Mambo #5 - Perez "Prez" Prado
* Cherry Cherry - Neil Diamond
* Livin' La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin
Merengue is the simplest dance to learn. Its uncomplicated timing makes it easy to feel the music.
There are two schools of thought as to how this captivating dance began. One says it started as a peasant dance in the Dominican Republic by African slaves. Another says a returning war hero, a General Maringie, danced dragging an injured leg. Whatever its origin, today's exciting rhythm of the Merengue inspires dancers all over the world to move to its intoxicating beat.
Merengue music is written in 2/4, 4/4 or 6/8 time. The rhythmical accent will occur on the first beat of each measure.
Walking steps and side steps (chasse) are the basic components of Meregue. This dance is introduced as a marching dance but can be developed into a very rhythmical dance. With "Cuban Motion" and animated body movement, the Merengue gives a festive party appeal.
Merengue songs and artists include:
* Hot, Hot, Hot - Buster Poindexter
* Jump In The Line - Harry Belafonte
* Cuban Pete - Jim Carey
The Rumba will sharpen your sense of rhythm, timing and muscular control.
The Rumba was at the beginning of the Cuban and Latin American dance crazes. Danced to music inspired by African rhythms and Spanish melodies, the Americanized Rumba was the basis for the Mambo and Cha Cha in the U.S. Rumba rhythms have found their way into Country Western, Blues, Rock & Roll and other popular forms of music.
Rumba music is usually written in 4/4/ time and may be played over a wide variety of tempos. Often in Rumba music there may be an underlying pulsation of &1&2&3&4. The basic step in Rumba is counted Slow, Quick, Quick (SQQ).
The distinctive hip movement of Rumba, called Cuban Motion, is one of the most important elements of this dance. Introduced in the Rumba, it is an important styling element in a number of popular Latin American dances.
Rumba songs and artists include:
* And I Love Her - The Beatles
* It's Now or Never - Elvis Presley
* Besame Mucho - Xavier Cugat
* Neon Moon - Brooks and Dunn
* Under The Boardwalk - The Drifters
Sometimes called the South American Waltz, the Samba pulsates to a unique Latin rhythm.
This national dance of Brazil became the rage of its society in the 1930's but began as an exhibition dance in Paris in 1905. Movie star and singer Carmen Miranda, is credited with making the dance popular in the U.S. in the 1940's.
Today's Samba music is influenced by Jazz and Latin rhythms. It is written in 2/4 or 4/4 time. The music is festive and fast paced with a sound associated with Rio's Carnival. The basic count is "Slow a Slow" or "1 & 2"
Walking steps and side steps are the basic components of Samba. The major characteristic of the Samba is the vertical bounce action. Steps are taken using the ball of the foot. Knee action along with body sway and "pendulum motion" in the accomplished dancer, is made to look effortless and carefree.
Samba songs and artists include:
* One Note Samba - Antonio Carlos Jobim
* Copacabana - Barry Manilow
* Quando, Quando, Quando - Engelbert Humperdinck
* Bailamos - Enrique Iglesias
Perhaps the most uniquely American of all dances, the Swing brings forth a buoyant carefree movement. Itâ€™s one of the dances that becomes contagious.
The Lindy (Swing) picked up where the Charleston left off. It had "swing-outs," "break-aways" and "shine-steps." With the birth of "Swing" music in the mid 1930's, the Lindy climbed the social ladder. In August of 1935, at the Palomar Ballroom, bandleader Benny Goodman played a Fletcher Henderson arrangement of "Stompin' at the Savoy." The rest, as they say, is history. The dance craze swept the nation, and depending on where you lived, it was the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop or the Swing. Since those days, each successive generation has "discovered" the fun of Swing. This most uniquely American dance is enjoyed all over the world.
Swing, Jitterbug, Jive, Shag, Lindy Hop, etc. are normally written in 2/4 or 4/4 time with the musical accents occurring on the second or second and fourth beats of a measure. Swing includes two general rhythms: Swing Rhythm - 1,2,3,&4, 5&6 or its equivalent; Lindy Rhythm - 1,2,3,&4, 5,6,7 & 8 or its equivalent. Swing may be danced comfortably over a wide range of tempos.
A side step or a triple step (shuffle) followed by a rock step done to lively music is the fundamental pattern for this dance.
Swing songs and artists include:
* In The Mood - Glenn Miller
* Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley and the Comets
* Start Me Up - The Rolling Stones
* Jump, Jive, An' Wail - Louis Prima or the Brian Setzer Orchestra
The Tango is one of the most beautiful of all the dances. It is characterized by earthy and dramatic movements.
The Tango began in the West Indies and found its way to Argentina where it was stylized by the Gauchos. It became the rage in 1921 after the silent screen star Rudolph Valentino brought this romantic dance to millions in "The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse." More recently, it has been danced in movies such as "True Lies" and "Scent Of A Woman." Today, the Tango is considered the "dancer's dance" and becomes a favorite of all who learn it.
Tango music is usually written in 2/4 or 4/4 timing. The first teaching rhythm in tango is slow, slow, quick, quick, slow.
The hold in Tango is more compact than in other moving dances. The walk in Tango differs from walks in other dances in that it is staccato action obtained by delaying the follow-through of the free leg and foot.
Tango songs and artists include:
* Hernando's Hideaway - from "The Pajama Game"
* Whatever Lola Wants - from "Damn Yankees"
* La Cumparsita - Julio Iglesias
* Por Una Cabeza - from "Scent of a Woman"
From Strauss Waltzes and Tchaikovsky Ballets to music by contemporary artists, Viennese Waltz music has inspired people to dance for generations.
The Waltz developed in Central Europe from the Austrian dance known as the Landler. The fast whirling of partners held as if in an embrace shocked polite society. The music of Johann Strauss and the famous ballrooms of Vienna popularized the faster version known as the Viennese Waltz.
Viennese Waltz is basically Waltz music played at a much quicker tempo. While slow Waltz is played at 28-36 measures per minute (MPM), Viennese Waltz is played at 50-60 MPM. It is usually played in 3/4 time but some Viennese Waltz's are written in 6/8 time.
Sweeping turns that gracefully move around the floor characterize this dance. The Viennese Waltz is known for its rotational movement, which is simple and elegant.
Waltz songs and artists include:
* Blue Danube - Johann Strauss
* Kiss From A Rose - Seal
* Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman? - Bryan Adams
* That's Amore - Dean Martin
The elegant sweeping movement of the Waltz gives dancers a chance to practice balance and to move lightly with ease.
Considered the mother of present day dances, the Waltz began in southern Germany in the seventeenth century. The popularity of the Waltz grew with the music of Johann Strauss and eventually blossomed in the 20th century. It is the basis for many dances and is popular today all over the world.
The Waltz is written in 3/4 time and has a slow to medium tempo with the musical accent occurring on the first beat of each measure. The basic count for Waltz is 1,2,3. Faster tempo Waltz is called Viennese Waltz.
The basic components of Waltz are walking steps and side steps. Rise and fall and Body Sway are some of the styling characteristics which make the simplest Waltz patterns elegant and beautiful.
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