“Ballroom dancing” as we know it today developed early in the 20th century as jazz music and dances designed for it rose in popularity. At the same time, there was also a drive to popularize dances by making them standardized and thus teachable and easily learnable. American Style is divided into two categories, Smooth and Rhythm. American Smooth dances come closest to what we often think of as “ballroom dancing” à la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
American style is danced both socially and competitively in the U.S.
Waltz – Languid, fluid dancing to a slower 1-2-3 rhythm
Tango – Dramatic stalking walks with sharp contrasts between slow and sharp movements
Viennese Waltz – Flowing waltz danced to a quicker 1-2-3 rhythm than American Waltz
Foxtrot – The steps may be different, but think of Astaire and Rogers dancing
ChaCha - Flirtation and rhythmic, with fast foot work
Rumba – Sensual and smooth, with subtle hip motion
Bolero – A cousin to the American Rumba, this is slower and even more dreamy,
with sweeping contrasts between bending and straightening the legs
Mambo – Closely related to classic social salsa, but danced on a different beat
Swing – Based on East Coast Swing, with some elements from West Coast Swing,
this is an ideal dance for beginners
International Style dancing developed in Europe almost at the same time as the American Style, and was introduced to the U.S. in the 1960s. Originally labeled English Style, it is danced competitively around the world as well as socially. International Style is divided into two categories which have strict steps and technique: International Standard and International Latin. International Standard also evokes Astaire and Rogers, although partners cannot break out of hold as they can in American Smooth.
Waltz – Fluid, sweeping dancing to a slow 1-2-3 rhythm
Tango – Dramatic walks with contrasts between slow stalking and sharp movements
of the head and changes of direction
Viennese Waltz – Whirling, flowing waltz danced to a quick 1-2-3 rhythm
Slow Foxtrot – Elegant, smooth, and continuous movements across the floor
Quickstep – Dynamic movement with many patterns including hops,
runs and rotations, at a fast tempo
ChaCha – Cheeky and rhythmic, with quick hip movements and syncopation
Samba – Lively, joyous, and bouncy, with many changes in rhythm
Rumba – Sensuous, smooth, and slow, to better highlight full hip action
Paso Doble – A dramatic marching dance that portrays the leader as matador
and the follower as the bull or cape
Jive – A high energy and uninhibited form of swing, with sharp kicks and flicks
Developed in the 1940s, the vivacious East Coast Swing is based upon the Lindy Hop. This rhythmic and adaptable dance can be performed with a partner or individually, socially, competitively, or even choreographed for performances. The East Coast Swing is the perfect beginner's Swing dance, and will establish the basic swing tempo and movements. It doesn't require exceptional strength or flexibility like the acrobatic Lindy Hop, and therefore is suited to dancers of all ages and skill levels. This high-spirited dance will have you skipping, rocking, and twisting the night away on the dance floor.
This is a sexy and smooth swing style that can be danced to R&B, Blues, top-40 and Contemporary Hip-Hop music sounds, disco and even country music. Like the East Coast Swing, the West Coast Swing developed from the Lindy Hop but is infused with unique California style. Slick, sexy, and smooth, this partner dance will have you twisting away on the dance floor. The fun of West Coast Swing is improvising and freely moving to the flow of the music. Beginners can easily master its basic steps, while advanced dancers will be enthralled with creating clever tricks and new moves.
Salsa is one of the world's most famous dances. A spicy blend of Cuban and African influences, Salsa is a fantastic style for dancers just starting out, and challenging enough to keep even pros coming back for more. Advanced dancers will delight in the flourish and excitement of improvisation, while beginners will be pulling off thrilling spins and dips at the nightclub in no time. Everyone can get wrapped up in the sensation that Salsa moves create on the dance floor.
This dance is achieved with a walking Cuban hip motion, and a unique "pop". The dance is performed both in open position and in closed position depending on the setting and mood of the partners. Similar to Merengue, dips are not original to the dance and turns are done infrequently.
According to an old saying, if you can walk, you can dance Merengue. That may be true, but walking won't get your hips moving like this. The beat of the music is steady, upbeat, and easy to follow, and its enchanting pulse will have you sashaying your way across the floor all night. Merengue is easy to learn, and its steps are perfect for beginners or intermediate dancers. Don't be surprised if you hear accordion, metal scraper, or tambora drum playing when you learn this sensual shuffle, and don't be surprised when you have a great time learning