Waltz is a smooth progressive dance characterized by long, flowing movements, continuous turns, sway, and rise and fall. Graceful and elegant, Waltz glides around the floor almost effortlessly. The slow, expressive quality of the music often invites very powerful and dynamic movement from dancers.
International Standard Tango has its roots in Argentine Tango, but is deeply influenced by European culture and music. Danced in closed position, Tango is known for its drama, fast directional changes, and staccato movements. Tango is by far the most passionate of the Standard dances.
What is now called the Viennese Waltz is actually the original form of the Waltz. It is a truly romantic dance, most commonly thought of as the “Cinderella” Waltz. The Viennese Waltz is almost mesmerizing, as the dancers are constantly turning either toward the leader’s right or toward the leader’s left. A true Viennese Waltz consists only of turns and change steps.
Foxtrot is a dance of grace and style, which is customarily danced to Jazz, and the same Big Band music to which Swing is also danced. The Foxtrot of the Standard category is elegantly built around a slow-quick-quick rhythm. It is a smooth, progressive dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor.
Quickstep is fun and energetic, and is danced to the fastest tempo of all the ballroom dances. From its early beginning as a faster Foxtrot, the Quickstep gradually evolved into a very dynamic dance with a lot of movement on the dance floor, with many advanced patterns including hops, runs, quick steps with a lot of momentum, and rotation.
The Cha Cha is a dance of Cuban origin, but today’s International Latin Cha Cha has a style all its own. Cha Cha is fast, flirtatious, and sexy, and can be danced to Latin, Pop, Dance, and a variety of other musical styles. Cha Cha is based on Cuban Motion of the hips, and quick, precise footwork.
Samba is a fun, lively, rhythmical dance. It is related to the traditional Samba styles of Brazil, but differs from them considerably, as most steps are danced with a slight downward bouncing or dropping action. The constant circular hip movements in Samba set it apart from the other Latin dances, and give it a festive and exotic energy.
Rumba is the slowest of the five competitive International Latin dances. Rumba is a love story, it is a romantic and emotional dance. It is dynamic, with long lines and extensions, as well as Cuban Motion in the hips, and a very close connection between the dancers.
Paso Doble is a theatrical dance, and is usually quite serious and dramatic. Paso Doble is based on music played at bullfights during the bullfighters’ entrance, or during the passes just before the kill. The leader of this dance plays the part of the matador. The follower generally plays the part of the matador’s cape, the shadow of the matador, the bull, or even a flamenco dancer.
Jive is a dance style that originated in the United States with African-American social dances in the early 1930′s. Jive is a lively and uninhibited variation of the Jitterbug, a form of Swing dance. Many of its basic patterns are similar to those of East Coast Swing, with a faster rhythm, higher kicks, and far more complex footwork. The high energy and fun of Jive make it infectious and exciting.
Salsa is a fast Latin social dance, which has become hugely popular the world over. Salsa dance movements originate from the Cuban Son dancing of the 1930′s, more specifically through the beat of Son Montuno with strong influences from the dances of Danzon, Mambo, Guaguanco and other Afro-Cuban folkloric dancing. Today there are various styles of Salsa dancing, including Cali-style (from Colombia), Cuban-style (“Casino”), LA-style, New York-style, and Puerto Rican-style.
The earliest bachata was originally developed in the Dominican Republic around the early part of the 20th century, with mixed Cuban boleros and, which originated from Son. With African elements, combined with traditional Latin/Caribbean rhythms. During much of its history Bachata music was denigrated by Latino/Caribbean society and associated with rural backwardness and delinquency. As recently as 1988 Bachata was considered too vulgar, crude and musically rustic to enter mainstream music. In the 1990s, bachata’s instrumentation changed from acoustic guitar to electric steel string. The new electric bachata (New York Style) soon became an international phenomenon, and today bachata is as popular as salsa and merengue in some Latin American dance-halls.
Argentine Tango is a largely improvised social dance that came to the United States straight from the nightclubs and streets of Buenos Aires. Argentine tango is danced in an embrace that can vary from very open, in which leader and follower connect at arms length, to very closed, in which the connection is chest-to-chest, or anywhere in between. Tango dance is essentially walking with a partner and the music. Dancing appropriately to the emotion and speed of the music is extremely important, as a good dancer is one who transmits a feeling of the music to the partner. Dancers generally keep their feet close to the floor as they walk, the ankles and knees brushing as one leg passes the other.