Ballroom dance, at its widest definition, may refer to almost any type of partner dancing. Ballroom dance can be a recreational and competitive activity. Competitions, sometimes referred to as dancesport, range from world championships, regulated by the World Dance Council (WDC), to less advanced dancer competitions at various proficiency levels. Most competitions are divided into professional, professional/amateur and amateur. At All About Ballroom™ you can enjoy both competitive and recreational forms of dance.
Waltz is the oldest of ballroom dances and is easily recognized for its graceful turning moves. The Waltz is unique in that it is the only ballroom dance written in 3/4 time. There are three beats to each measure, counted as “1-2-3” or “quick-quick-quick.”
Viennese Waltz is characterized by its speed (twice as fast as Waltz) as well as a rise and fall and sway (less than Waltz). With its elegance and turns, Viennese Waltz has an air of magic about it. Viennese Waltz is danced in fast ¾ time with a 1-2-3 rhythm and features a series of left and right turns as the couple whirls around the dance floor. Popular Viennese Waltz songs include “The Blue Danube” and “The Skater’s Waltz.”
Ballroom tango was born in the slums of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century. There is uncertainty as to how the dance came about. Tango is characterized by a close hold, a low center of gravity and an emphasis on Contra Body movement. Most Tango music is phrased to 16 or 32 beats of music. Tango music is like a story. It contains paragraphs (Major phrases); sentences (Minor phrases); and the period at the end of the sentence is the Tango close.
The Foxtrot is truly an American dance, credited to Harry Fox and dating back to 1914 when he was reportedly doing rapid trotting steps with his partner to Ragtime music (the original form of Jazz), and it was originally referred to as “Fox’s Trot”. Since those early vaudeville days both the music and the dance have changed into the more smooth and sauntering dance that we see today. Foxtrot is the classic social Ballroom dance- In most old movies when you see a large crowd dancing close with their partners to a big band, they are doing Foxtrot.
Quickstep is a fast, light, and elegant dance in which the partners seem to fly around the ballroom and execute a series of kicks, skips, jumps, and runs. This is a dance for people with high energy and who like to have a lot of fun.
Samba is the national dance of Brazil. The rhythm of samba and its name originated from West African slaves. In 1905, samba became known to the rest of the countries during an exhibition in Paris. In the 1940s, samba was introduced in America through Carmen Miranda. The modern ballroom samba dance differs compared to the traditional Brazilian samba as it was modified as a partner dance. Samba is danced with a slight bounce which is created through the bending and straightening the knee.
Originally called the Cha-cha-cha, this dance evolved from the Mambo and the Rumba on Cuban dance floors in the 1950’s. It is danced to Latin music with strong African and Cuban rhythms. The Cha-cha has a 4/4 syncopation where 5 steps are danced in 4 beats of music. Its unmistakable counting “one, two, cha-cha-cha” requires that the dancers use small steps. The Cha-cha is a very flirtatious dance filled with a catch-me-if-you-can attitude between partners. Hip movements and bending and straightening of the knees give the Cha-cha the classic Cuban motion. Partners work together to synchronize their movements in perfect parallel alignment.
Rhumba is known to be the most romantic and passionate of all dances. In the early 1920s, the dance came to the United States from Cuba and became a popular cabaret dance during prohibition. Rhumba is very polyrhythmic and complex. It includes Cuban motions through knee-strengthening, figure-eight hip rotation, and swiveling foot action. An important characteristic of rhumba is the powerful and direct lead achieved through the ball of the foot. Rhumba is performed for both International Latin and American Rhythm.
Paso Doble originated in France, but is reminiscent of the sound, dramas and movement of the Spanish bullfight. Paso Doble means “two step” in Spanish. It is a dance for the Man, which allows him to fill the “stage” with strong three-dimensional shapes and movements danced with “Pride and Dignity”. The woman’s role varies depending on the interpretation of the dance. The woman can take the role of the matador’s cape, the bull or even the matador at different times within the dance. Characteristics of the Paso Doble are the “marching” flavor given to the steps and the cape movements creating tension between both dancers.
Jive is a dance style that originated among African Americans in the early 1940s. It is a lively and uninhibited variation of the Jitterbug that belongs to the Swing dance group. Modern Jive, sometimes called French Jive is a dance style that originated in the 1980s. It derives from Swing, Lindy Hop and may include Rock ‘n’ Roll and others, the main innovation being simplification of footwork. Moves from many forms of ballroom dance including Salsa and Tango may also be included. Modern Jive is generally danced to music with 4 beats to the bar from latest chart hits to Big Band music. Some styles may concentrate on particular musical styles, such as swing.
Recreational/Social & Club
Merengue is mainly a club dance set to fast Latin music. It is characterized by swinging hips and a closed hold position. The couple steps side to side in sets of 8 to 2/4 music, turning clockwise or counterclockwise and features a characteristic hip swing and graceful arm flourishes. It is the national dance of the Dominican Republic and there are a number of popular versions as to the origin of this dance.
Bachata is a style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. It is danced widely all over the world but not identically. The basics to the dance are three-step with a Cuban hip motion, followed by a tap including a hip movement on the 4th beat.
West Coast swing
West Coast Swing is a smooth and sexy dance style that is danced in a slot (a narrow line), making it perfect for a crowded dance floor. West Coast Swing is danced to a variety of music, including rock, blues, funk, country/western, disco and contemporary pop. West Coast Swing consists of 6-beat and 8-beat patterns executed in a slot area on the dance floor, and can be danced to a variety of styles of music.
NightClub 2 step
The Night Club Two Step is an easy dance with a characteristic rock step followed by a side step, which is actually a 5th position break. The dance has 8 beats and rarely changes from the 1 & 2 count. The tempo is 30-34 bars per minute and is often done to medium tempo music. Not to be confused with country two step, this club-style Two Step dance style features a swaying lilt. It was created and popularized by California dance teacher Buddy Schwimmer more than 30 years ago when he was only 15.
The Hustle (Disco) was born in the Latin Clubs and Discos of the 1970’s. It has lots of open traveling movements and spins and and is danced to, disco and house music with a pulsing beat. Hustle combined dance patterns and movements that influenced the way that most partner dances are performed today.