Until recently, the majority of people haven’t thought much of and about the world of ballroom dancing. It has now become a popular worldwide pastime, thanks to worldwide media influence bringing it back into the spotlight with shows such as “Strictly Come Dancing” and “Dancing with the Stars.” It wasn’t long after the first season of these dance shows that the dance craze soon swept over England, America and the rest of the world, with more and more people choosing to learn the art of dance. However, Ballroom and Latin American dancing is certainly nothing new, and has quite an extensive background.
Within the Ballroom style of dances, the dances consist of the Waltz, Slow Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep and Viennese Waltz. All these dances are characterised by a closed hold frame with your partner, which is retained throughout the dance. Progress is made around the floor by dancing with your partner in an anti-clockwise direction.
The Waltz is probably the most popular and recognised of the ballroom dances, characterised by its slow and smooth rhythmical movements. This Dance was most popular in the 18th century and originated from the region of Vienna. The waltz soon spread across Europe and to England where it was initially thought indecent, therefore it rapidly caught on! The waltz is a smooth and graceful gliding dance with a gentle “rise and fall” motion. Today the Waltz persists as the oldest of ballroom dances and perhaps the best loved.
One of the most fascinating of all the ballroom dances, the tango is a sensual ballroom dance that originated from Argentina in South America in the early twentieth century. The Tango is a passionate dance which brings a touch of Latin to the Ballroom world. It is a serious dance with stop and go movements with slow deliberate steps and then sudden fast movements, subsequently developed into a dance for couples. The popularity of the Tango has increased dramatically over the years. Argentine Tango (another style of Tango) is much more intimate than Modern Tango, and is well-suited to dancing in small settings. Argentine Tango retains the intimacy of the original dance.
The Viennese Waltz, or the “Wiener Walzer” as known in German, is another version of ballroom waltz. The Viennese Waltz incorporates various types of rotary dance moves, which include turning in both a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction. When performing these moves, dancers execute non-rotating change steps. It was great composers such as Johann Strauss that publicised this style of dance.
The Foxtrot is another of the ballroom dance that was popularized by actor and entertainer Harry Fox. Foxtrot was originally performed to big band music, and is often associated with the smooth dancing style of the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The foxtrot has fast become one of the most popular ballroom dances in history. The Foxtrot has often been referred to as the Rolls Royce of ballroom dancing. Once you learn how to dance the Foxtrot, you should really feel like a dancer.
The Quickstep was developed in England in the early 1920’s. During this time, many big bands began playing the Foxtrot at a faster pace, earning the name Quick Foxtrot and later known as the Quickstep. The Quickstep again is another of the ballroom dances which is similar to Foxtrot, but the dance patterns are very different.
The Latin American family of dances consist of the following: Cha Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, and Jive. The Latin style of dance became popular a period of time after the ballroom Style of dance. Each Latin dance, like ballroom, has its different origin and character, with the main difference of the Latin style is that the hold of these dances are not danced close to your partner and various holds are used.
Cha Cha Cha
The Cha Cha Cha is a vibrant, flamboyant and playful dance. The bubbly and lightness feel of the Cha Cha Cha gives it its unique sense of fun for dancers throughout the world. This unmistakable dance originated in the 1940’s in Cuba by composer and violinist Enrique Jorrin. Enrique developed this dance as a variant to the Mambo and Rumba. Because the Cha Cha is very similar to the Rumba and Mambo, with several steps coincides with the steps of these dances, the main difference between the dances is the timing and speed of these dances.
The Samba is a lively feel good party dance depicting the Mardi Gras carnival in Brazil. Developed in Brazil around 1917, the Samba is considered the joyful dance of celebration and joy at Carnival celebrations in Rio, Brazil. Lively and rhythmical the major action of the Samba is the “Samba Bounce Action,” this gives the dance its unique look and feel. The Samba Bounce Action is a gentle, rhythmic action felt through the knees and ankles, bright colours and natural hip action.
The Rumba is a Latin dance that tells the story of love and passion between a male lover and a teasing woman. The Rumba is full of sensual movements and is considered by many to be the sexiest of all the dances. Originating in Cuba, the rumba made its debut to the United States in the early 1920s then later to the rest of the world. The Rumba is the slowest of the Latin dances with its serious yet romantic actions with flirtation and flirtatious actions between the partners. The Rumba is a fun yet interesting dance to watch, as many of the basic dance figures having a teasing theme in which the lady flirts, then rejects her male partner, often with apparent sexual aggression. The rumba is most commonly referred to as the “grandfather of the Latin dances.”
The Paso Doble is the theatrical Spanish dance. Traditionally, the man is regarded and characterized as the matador (bullfighter) and the lady considered being his cape in the drama depicting of a Spanish bullfight. The Paso Doble actually originated in southern France, not Spain like is believed, and began gaining popularity in the United States in the 1930s. The Paso Doble is one of the most dramatic of all the Latin dances with its sharp and staccato actions.
The Jive is a light, bright contemporary dance, incorporating elements of lindy hop, jitterbug and rock ‘n’ roll. Originating in the United States in the 1920’s it then made its debut in Europe throughout the 1940s and 1950s with the GI’s and was further popularised by big bands such as Glenn Miller and other orchestras. The basic look and feel of Jive is lots and lots of energy and was influenced by the speed and quick actions of the Rock & Roll, Swing and Lindy hop. The Jive incorporates lots of kicks, flicks and turning, and doesn’t move around the dance floor like other dances.