The smooth and majestic Waltz forms the basis of many of today’s popular dances. Originating in France and Germany, the popularity of the Waltz grew with the music of John Strauss and is popular all over the world today.
Romantic and sentimental, the Waltz is characterised by simple soft, round movements which allow the dancers to flow smoothly across the floor.
The Rise and Fall of the dance is one of the styling characteristics which make the Waltz steps and patterns lilting and beautiful.
Turns form the majority of steps in the dance, with natural turns to the right and reverse turns to the left.
The sensual Tango originated from Buenos Aires and Montevideo during the late 19th century. The dance is made up of a number of dance styles prominent in the poorer districts of Buenos Aries at the time. These include the Spanish habanera, the Uruguayan milonga and candombe and elements of African dance.
Subtly sexy and steeped in emotion, the Tango has an immense range and can be danced with tenderness, urgency or aggression.
Walks should be done with the heels leading.
The hold is tight as the man’s left arm is more towards head level. The general hold is far more compact and the couple are much closer together, increasing the emotional tension of the dance.
The Foxtrot was created in New York in the summer of 1914 by American Vaudeville performer Harry Fox. The Fox-trot originated in the New York Theatre when the innovative Harry Fox began performing trotting steps to ragtime music, and “Fox’s Trot” was born.
Smooth and elegant, the graceful Fox Trot relies on expert timing to be performed properly. The steps are: slow, quick, quick, slow.
The weave is six quick steps in a row, all performed on the toes.
The Feather Step – when the man steps outside his partner.
During the 1920s many bands played the Foxtrot too quickly for couples to keep up which led to a faster version which absorbed elements of ragtime being danced. This dance became the bright and entertaining Quickstep.
Tricky footwork and a fast pace mean that dancers literally need to keep on their toes!
The rise and fall motion of the quickstep is the dance’s main characteristic and must be done at a fast pace.
The movement across the dance floor should be powerful and positive while remaining light on the feet.
The music of Johann Strauss and the famous ballrooms of Vienna popularized the faster version of the original Waltz known as the Viennese Waltz.
Rotational movement of sweeping turns across the dance floor give the Viennese Waltz its grace and romance.
The fast and challenging pace make simple moves more complicated.
LATIN AMERICAN DANCES
Cha Cha Cha
The Cha Cha Cha came about because of a piece of music composed by Enrique Jorrin titled ‘La Enganadora’. When dancers matched its syncopated rhythms their shoes made a shuffling sound which created a name for a new dance – the Cha Cha Cha.
The Cha Cha Cha is set apart because of its syncopated chasse.
Steps should be small to allow for fast syncopated movements.
Couples can perform intricate partnered moves as well as synchronised side by side patterns.
Dating back as early as the 19th century, the Cuban Rumba is thought to have originated from the dancing of African immigrants around the West Indies and the Caribbean.
The Cuban Rumba is extremely different to the traditional Rumba performed in the ballroom, as it is danced with an entirely different settling action, and the basis steps are danced in a shape of a box (or cube). Ballroom Rumba is danced with forward and backward steps and the hip action is softer from side to side.
Originating from Spain and based on the relationship between the bullfighter and his cape, the Paso Doble is a masculine dance with roots in the Spanish Flamenco.
The proud Paso Doble is danced with many dramatic poses, leaps, heel stomps and a whole lot of attitude.
The Arpel marks the end of a movement with the stomping of the feet before the couple walk in separate directions.
Castanets are simulated with the hands demonstrating the influence that the Flamenco has brought to the dance.
Fast, fun and frantic, the Jive combines elements of Boogie, Rock and Roll, African/American Swing and the Lindyhop. The loud and sassy dance has its roots in New York’s Harlem and evolved from the Jitterbug in the 1940s.
The Jive is one of the fastest International Latin dances and shows lots of kicks and flicks whilst the feet and legs remain under the body with the knees close together.
Kicks – the distinctive kick action in jive sees the toes pointed to the ground when kicking.
Basic movement involves a chassez to the left and chassez to the right and a rock step (changing weight from one foot to the other) to keep things fast and fun.
West Coast Swing
Originating in the 1920s and ‘30s in New York, Swing has aspects of the Charleston, Lindy Hop and Tap Dance.
Swing is a lively, happy and fun dance which can be very innovative and is seen as one of the most uniquely American dances.
The sugar push is a very stylized move which brings the couple close together and then returns them to where they started and is a similar move to the swingout.
The side pass is where the woman starts on one side of the man and moves to the other side, usually in 6 or 8 counts.
Salsa evolved from a mixture of many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances and originated in Cuba in the early 20th century. Salsa is similar to the Mambo with sleek and sexy upbeat moves. There are many styles of salsa across the world and it is the most popular social dance in the world today.Salsa is as hot and spicy as the sauce it shares its name with and should be performed as a sensual courtship between the two dancers.
Sensuous and fluid, the Salsa sees the dancers moving around each other in circular movements.
Steps should be kept small and on the balls of the feet to allow for kicking.
The Samba is an upbeat and energetic party dance made up of many different South American dances incorporated into one. It features as part of the Rio Carnival in Brazil.
The Samba should be fun and inventive, working the dancers and audience up into a frenzy of arty atmosphere.
The Volta is the basic step involving the crossing over of the feet.
The Roll is when the two dancers’ bodies make a rotating motion from the waist up.