Ballroom Dancing Styles

Author: Arthur Murray Dance Studio's
Danceweb Australia Australia

Waltz

This "mother of all dances" originated in Italy in the 1600's as a round dance called the Volte. It arrived in America in 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.

Swing

First known as the Lindy (in honor of Charles Lindberg and his historic hop across the Atlantic), this perennially popular dance emerged in 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 and Roll with Swing.

Rumba

The Rumba is an ever increasingly popular romantic Latin dance dating back some 400 years ago, and is better know 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 nightclub dancing.

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 is 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.

Mambo

Introduced by bandleader Anselmo Sacaras in 1944, the "Mambo" - a merger of Swing and Rumba - didn't really catch on until the 1950's and it remains very popular today.

Cha-Cha

An offshoot of the Mambo, the Cha Cha (originally the cha-cha-cha) evolved out of poplar movement in the slow-tempo Mambo called the Triple Mambo. By 1954 it had evolved into a dance all it's own. It's a must style to know, the all time favorite Latin dance.

Fox-Trot

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 80's, 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".

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 'n' 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”.

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!

Article courtesy of Arthur Murray Dance Studio's

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