The Argentine Tango is danced using an embrace. The embrace position has the dancers’ chests closer together than their hips and often has both the leader and the follower in complete contact, dancing cheek to cheek. However, the embrace is not rigid, but relaxed, so that all figures can be danced comfortably. The Argentine Tango is a dance full of emotion and is often dictated by the highlights in the music.
The Bachata has very simple footwork that moves in a side to side or forward and back motion. The romantic character of the Bachata is achieved via sensual body actions. Good use of the knees helps to produce the desired hip movement.
The Bolero has some different characteristics from its Cuban relative, the Rumba. Its long sweeping side steps and use of rise and fall create a softness that makes this dance unique among the Rhythm dances. The expanding and contracting dance position makes a very dramatic and romantic statement.
Triple steps (Chasse) and rock steps are the basic components of the Cha Cha. Since the Cha Cha is derived from the Rumba and Mambo, Cuban Motion is an important aspect of this popular dance. Everybody can learn the Cha Cha.
The basic components of the Fox Trot are walking steps and side steps. Crowded dance floors and nightclub conditions require short steps. In larger ballrooms the slow Fox Trot is characterized by longer, smooth and gliding steps, with an ease of movement and control giving this dance an unhurried appearance.
Turns, spins and wraps are the primary components of Hustle. The more accomplished dancers will use syncopated timing and fakes along with elaborate arm styling.
The components of Mambo are rock steps and side steps, and foot styling includes points, kicks or flicks. The Latin hip movement in Mambo is an important aspect of the dance. The overall flavor of the dance is contained in the translation of the word Mambo which means “shake it” or “say it.”
Walking steps and side steps (Chasse) are the basic components of Merengue. This dance is introduced as a marching dance but can be developed into something very rhythmical. With lots of Cuban Motion and animated body movement, the Merengue gives a festive party appeal.
The Rumba is an increasingly popular romantic Latin dance dating back some 400 years ago, and is better known 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 freestyle of disco and nightclub dancing.
Danced to four beats using only three steps, Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce” denoting spicy or hot flavor. It can be danced to a variety of different rhythms. Generally, Salsa music encompasses many Afro-Latin rhythms driven by the clave (two wooden sticks struck together). Today’s Salsa is the result of many years of rhythmical evolution due to economical, social and political change. Salsa is the national dance of Puerto Rico.
Walking steps and side steps are the basic components of Samba. The major characteristic of the Samba is the vertical bounce action. Steps are taken using the ball of the foot. Knee action, along with body sway and “pendulum motion” in the accomplished dancer, is made to look effortless and carefree.
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 1920s. During the WWII years it re-emerged on the East Coast as the Jitterbug-jive and on the West Coast as Swing. This dance is a true American amalgam, combining steps from the Black Bottom, the Bop and Push, the Hustle and Boot Scoot, Shag, Charleston and Hop.
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 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.
This “mother of all dances” originated in Italy in the 1600s as a round dance called the Volte. It arrived in America in the early 1800s 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.