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Copyright 2006
A Dance With Me

This text reproduced with permission from DanceVision.com.

Latin American dances are danced to a Latin American beat. "Latin" is the term for the International Style, "Rhythm" is the term for the American Style. You may hear the terms Standard, Modern and Smooth in relation to the Ballroom dances and wonder how they differ.  They all represent the dances with the man holding the lady in his arms and moving around the floor.  The term "Standard" has replaced "Modern" as the name for the International Style dances.  "Smooth" is the term used for dancing in the American Style.  The step lists (also called the syllabus) in American Style are traditionally longer, while in International Style they are shorter.

  • International Style Standard
    • Slow Waltz: Danced in European courts in the mid 1700s, the romantic Slow Waltz is an offspring of the faster Viennese Waltz in 3/4 time. The rhythm was gradually slowed down over time as songwriters of ballads and love songs chose to compose in a slower and more comfortable tempo. This dance has continued to rise in popularity at anniversaries, graduations, and weddings.
    • Tango: 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 man's, which creates a tighter hold for a quick staccato action and stylized poses. (Not to be confused with Argentine Tango.)
    • Viennese Waltz: 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.
    • FoxtrotThe 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.
    • Quickstep: 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.
  • International Style Latin
    • Cha Cha: During the 1950s, the Cha Cha was made famous by many Latino bands such as Xavier Cugat and Perz Prado. Cuban in origin, the Cha Cha rhythm is found in much of today's popular music.
    • Samba: The Samba originated in Brazil and, unlike the other Latin dances that are stationary, it has a traveling action around the floor with lots of spins and controlled bounces.
    • Rumba: The Rumba is Cuban in origin and is often referred to as the "dance of love". Sultry and romantic, the music is a mixture of African and Latin rhythms.
    • Paso Doble: 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.
    • Jive: The Jive is a very fast, acrobatic, lively dance made popular during World War II by the swing music of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller.
  • American Style Smooth
    • Foxtrot: The Foxtrot remains the most popular social dance in the world today. Little did Harry Fox realize that his trotting on a New York stage in 1913 would become an overnight success. The Foxtrot is the foundation for many of the social dances that followed. It is enjoyed by all age groups for its ease of movement and smooth style. Foxtrot music is played by most social dance orchestras and is one of the easiest dances to learn in the American Style.
    • Watlz: 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.
    • Tango: The American Style Tango is progressive, moving along the line of dance using body movement. A staccato movement of the feet and flexed knees highlight the dramatic style of the Tango.
    • Viennese Waltz: This dance originated in Mid-Europe some 400 years ago. The music is fast in tempo and sends the couples whirling around the floor--first one way and then the other.
    • Peabody: A fast Foxtrot during which the dancers may use many quick steps set against the figure called "open box." It was popular in the larger ballrooms where dance space was not a problem.
  • American Style Rhythm
    • Cha Cha: 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.
    • Rumba: The Rumba was originally a court-ship, 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 with-out 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."
    • Samba: 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.
    • 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 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.
    • Mambo: 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.
    • Merengue: 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.
    • Bossa Nova: The music was born of a marriage of Brazilian rhythms and American jazz. The dance, which is said to have originated at Carnegie Hall in 1961, is based on the slower, more subtle Salon Samba and features either type of Clave Beat or a jazz Samba in 4/4 time.
  • Swing:
    • 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.
    • Jive: This dance is the European version of East Coast swing. Six and eight count pat-terns 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 faster tempo swing music and is meant for competitive style dancing.
    • Lindy Hop: This dance came about with the big band era and is danced to fast tempo swing. All Lindy steps are eight count pat-terns done in a circular fashion with a lot of kicks, flicks, hops, lifts, and drops. It's been said that this dance gained its name from Charles Lindbergh and his flight to the United States.
    • Single Time Swing: Single Time Swing is East Coast except without the triple step. It is basically taught to beginners in order to get them dancing quickly. It is also done when the music is too fast for the East Coast Swing.
    • Jitterbug: Jitterbug is Single Time Swing. Single time Swing is East Coast Swing except without the triple step. It is basically taught to beginners in order to get them dancing quickly. It is also done when the music is too fast for the East Coast Swing.
    • Rock'n Roll: A popular form of Swing or Lindy Hop, Rock'n Roll began as a dance done mostly by teenagers who were fans of artists like Elvis Presley and the Beatles.
    • Collegiate Shag and Balboa:  Collegiate Shag and Balboa are light dances which can travel quickly across a dance floor. Shag and Balboa steps can easily be incorporated into your Lindy Hop. These are great dances for fast music, and are often used to provide a rest period during long up-tempo songs. If you've ever seen cartoons which show dancers pressing their faces and torsos together while their feet move madly underneath them that's Collegiate Shag.
    • Shag: Not to be confused with the Carolina Shag, which is a slow, laid back type of Swing. Shag became popular in the late 30s along with the Jitterbug and Lindy Hop. The dance was done to up-tempo Swing or Foxtrot music, and was instantly recognizable by the flicking of the feet backwards with a pronounced hopping action.
    • St. Louis Shag: Fast and Flashy, the St. Louis Shag involves a lot of kicking and is sure to be noticed on the dance floor! This dance originated in St. Louis and is still danced there today. St. Louis Shag is danced to very fast swing music (approximately 45-55 measures per minute) with the leader and follower in a side by side position dancing the mirror opposite of one another. Fun and Aerobic, everyone enjoys St. Louis Shag!
    • Charleston: The Charleston is the dance we associate with the flamboyant flapper of that era, however, Charleston had been around long before then. There are accounts of people dancing the Charleston in the South as early as 1900. Charleston became a national dance craze when it was danced on Broadway in 1922, and it remained popular until the Black bottom, a new dance to the same music, hit the scene in 1926. Charleston can be done solo or with a partner. Paul and Sharon's 20s Charleston video teaches the students solo Charleston and some Black bottom steps that are arranged into a fun, simple routine.
    • Back Charleston:  Back Charleston (sometimes referred to as Tandem Charleston) is a dance position in Lindy Hop where the follower stands in front of the leader with her back to him and both leader and follower dance the basic Charleston step starting with the rock step on the left foot. There are many moves and variations that can be danced from this position. Back Charleston is such a popular part of the Lindy Hop vocabulary that workshops are often devoted to it. Paul & Sharon's Back Charleston video includes an entrance and exit as well as many fun variations in the dance.
    • Club Dancing:  The best way to describe why we list these videos/DVDs under club dancing is the style of the way it is danced. It can be easily done in nightclubs, on smaller dance floors, or on a very crowded dance floor.
    • Nightclub Two-StepNightclub Two-Step, not to be confused with country western two-step, is one of the most practical and versatile social dances ever conceived. It is designed to be used with contemporary soft rock ("Love Song") music. This type of music is common just about everywhere, night-clubs, radio, etc. The rhythm of the dance is very simple and rarely changes from the 1& 2 count. This simple romantic dance fills a gap where no other ballroom dance fits. It gives the dancer, either beginning or advanced, the opportunity to express and create without a rigid technique being required. It's attractive, romantic, and a real asset to learn since it will be used often.
    • Argentine Tango: The Argentine Tango is a beautiful, simple language of improvisational social dance that has developed over the last century in the City of Buenos Aires. It is a true dance of leading and following. Argentine Tango, with it's dramatic character and use of leg and foot actions, uses slower music and is more of a spot dance, which makes it easier to dance on smaller floors.
    • Salsa: The word Salsa means sauce, denoting a "hot" flavor, and is best distinguished from other Latin music styles by defining it as the New York sound developed by Puerto Rican musicians in New York. The dance structure is largely associated with mambo type patterns and has a particular feeling that is associated mainly with the Clave and the Montuno.
    • Hustle: 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 partner style 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.


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