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Articles of Interest » Dance Education » Dances Defined

Dances Defined

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USA Dance (National) www.usadance.org

Argentine Tango: This style of Tango originated in the streets and salons of Buenos Aires and is characterized by its passionate hold and complex leg and foot movements.

Bolero: A slow Latin dance which originated as one of two forms of Rumba (Bolero Rumba and Son Rumba), and still shares many of the same figures. Bolero differs from Rumba in its temp and style of music and movement.

Cha Cha: An exciting, syncopated Latin dance which originated in the 1950's as a slowed-down Mambo. The Cha Cha gets its name and character from its distinct repetitive foot rhythm, 1-2-3 step-step which is similar to Swing.

East Coast Swing: Also called American or Triple Step Swing due to the rhythm of the basic triple step, this dance consists of six and eight count patterns. It is a circular dance that is danced with a bounce and is very grounded and not high in the legs. This bounce requires the dancer to stay very smooth and not jump around much. East Coast Swing, derived from Lindy Hop and Jitterbug is the the base for all swing dances.

Foxtrot: A smooth dance introduced to the public in 1913 by Harry Fox, noted for being the first dance to incorporate into the rhythm a combination of Slows and Quicks. Foxtrot is characterized by smooth, walking-style movements, but can be adapted to fit a variety of musical tempi and style, or to fit onto small, crowded nightclub dance floors.

Hustle: Often associated with retro disco music, the hustle is the perfect dance for dance-beat, nightclub music including everything from pop to rap and hip hop.

Jive: The European version of the East Coast Swing, this dance uses six and eight count patterns. However, it is danced quite bouncy with very sharp foot kicks and "flicks," to faster tempo swing music and is meant for competitive style dancing.

Mambo: A fast Latin dance, similar to Salsa, which comes from Cuba. Mambo was brought to America in the 1940's and 50's and eventually adapted as an American style ballroom dance. Most of the movements emphasize the second beat in the measure, suggestive of the Clave rhythm which is fundamental to Mambo music.

Merengue: An energetic Latin-style march which originated the Dominican Republic, which emphasizes a straight-ahead 8-count rhythm taken with Cuban Motion. Merengue is now also a subset of the modern club-style Salsa dances.

Night Club Two Step: And easy-going social dance, similar in movement to the Bossa Nova, first introduced in the 80's by Buddy Schwimmer and popular amongst the West Coast Swing crowd. Nightclub 2-step is normally danced to medium-tempo pop songs and ballads, using combinations of Slow-Quick-Quick and Quick-Quick-Slow rhythms.

Paso Doble: A dramatic French-Spanish Flamenco-style march dances in 2/4 time, with man portraying the matador in a bullfight, the lady as his cape. The character of the dance is arrogant and passionate.

Peabody: A dance developed the United States around 1920, which was created as a fast version of the Foxtrot characterized by rapid progression and frequent use of Right Outside Position and locking actions.

Quickstep: The dance began as a quick version of Foxtrot mixed with the Charleston, and musical "Jazz" influences. It is characterized by fast movement, often including a variety of hops, kicks, skips, lock steps and chassés.

Rumba: A Latin dance characterized by Cuban motion done to romantic Latin songs and music, the Rumba is a slow, sensuous, romantic dance which spotlights the lady and features much flirtation.