Dances We Teach
Cha Cha—The Cha-Cha evolved from one of three version of the mambo, a dance born in Cuba and introduced to the west in 1947. The “triple Mambo”, one of those versions, became very popular in the early 1950’s and was subsequently renamed the Cha-Cha. As music always dictates the dance, the triple or split-beat steps were inserted when slower version of Mambo music was being played.
Rumba—The Rumba mostly evolved in Cuba in the 16th Century with great influence from the African slaves. Although this Spanish/African mix is considered to be Cuban, version of this dance were to be seen on other Caribbean islands and in Latin America generally. In the late 1920’s, such Band Leaders as Xavier Cugat introduced the Rumba into the U.S.A. In the 1930’s this dance became popular in London. This dance is built around the famous “Cuban Box”, and features “Cuban Motion”.
Swing—A true “American Dance”, and a descendant of Lindy Hop and Jitterbug, this dance is also known as Triple Swing. It dates back to the 1020’s where the black community discovered the Charleston and Lindy Hop while dancing to Jazz music. It followed the development of “Ragtime” and then” Swing music. During World War II the American Forces introduced this dance to Britain, together with the popular orchestras of the day, such as Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey and of course Glen Miller. Sometime after war’s end, the faster version stayed in Europe and become known as the Jive. This dance continues to be popular with all age groups as music is available from all times eras.
Bolero—Like so many dances that evolved from Cuba and the Caribbean, and having the same roots as the Rumba, the Bolero was a Spanish/African dance with a very slow Rumba style rhythm. Traditionally associated with romantic Spanish love songs, the Bolero is not only a sensuous dance of love, but also a style of love song very popular today especially in the Spanish speaking community.
Mambo—The Mambo grew from the Danzon, a Cuban national dance, but not before serious influence by the Cuban Haitians, (in Haiti, a Mambo is a Voodoo Priestess) and American Jazz. The first known Mambo was presented in 1943 in Havana and many Latin American Orchestras of the time picked up and developed their own style. Just a few years later, it gained momentum and popularity in New York, and enjoyed a fairly long run of success. In more recent years, due to successful “mambo” songs and movies, this dance has become popular
Samba—Known to have originated in Brazil, and to this day exhibited in the street festivals and celebrations there, the Samba, a free spirited, festive dance, was made famous in the U.S. by the movies of Carmen Miranda in the alte 1030’s. This version, very unlike the original, has evolved into the American Style Samba of today. This dance has been greatly influenced by the music of the times. From the South American Bands of the 40’s and 50’s through the Ballroom Orchestras of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to the Disco style music of the 90’s, the Samba has continued to change and keep pace with the current musical styles.
West Coast Swing—The West Coast Swing is directly related to East Coast Swing and was undoubtedly born due to the style of music being played in the 1940’s and the need for a dance that did not take up so much room. The West Coast Swing has evolved into a “Slot” dance that allows more dancers into a small area, but encourages more individuality from the participants.
Merengue—The Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic. That is the only fact that we have concerning its origin other than it was probably born in that country and/or Haiti, the neighboring island. There are many tales of its conception. Stories are told of a Dominican Republic soldier that was wounded in one leg and could only shuffle sideways with a pronounced limp. The others, not wishing to offend the hero, copied him out of sympathy. Another story tells of shackled slaves working in the sugar fields cutting down the cane. They had to take small side steps as they worked down the rows. However it came to be, this dance was very popular in the Dominican Republic in the mid 1800’s. It is not clear just when this dance was introduced into the U.S. but it has enjoyed limited but constant success for many years.
Salsa—The roots of Salsa originated in Eastern Cuba (Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo) from the Cuban Son (about 1920) and Afro-Cuban dance (like Afro-Cuban rumba). There, Spanish and Afro-Cuban musical elements were combined, both in terms of rhythm and the instruments used.
Bachata—Often referred to in the West as “authentic / Dominican” Bachata, the original social dance was created in the Dominican Republic during the 1960s and was danced only in closed position, like the bolero, often in close embrace.
Night Club 2 Step—Nightclub Two Step was developed in the 1960s by a 15-year-old West Coast Swing dancer from Whitaker, Illinois named Buddy Schwimmer. Buddy Schwimmer invented the dance in 1965. He developed the Nightclub Two Step while practicing with his sister as he searched for a way to popularize slow ballad music.
Hustle—Hustle originated in the 1970’s Disco Era and was popularized by John Travolta in the movie “Saturday Night Fever”. It has some features in common with swing. Its basic steps are somewhat similar to the Discofox, which emerged at about the same time and is more familiar in various European countries.
Country—The primary influence of what we now call country (or “country/western”) dance comes from Europe. Settlers from England, Scotland, and Ireland brought forms of dance from the countryside festivals (still performed as “contradance”) as well as more courtly dances such as the pavane.
Jive—The Jive is a dance style that originated in the United States from African-Americans in the early 1930s. The name of the dance, jive, comes from the name of a form of African-American Vernacular slang, popularized in the 1930s by the publication of a dictionary by Cab Calloway, the famous jazz bandleader and singer.
Paso Doble—The Paso Doble (meaning “double-step” in Spanish) refers to a style of ballroom dancing included in DanceSport categories of competition that began in the 16th century in the country of France. This dance became popular in Spain because it became based on the sound, drama, and movement of the Spanish bullfight.
Waltz—Slow or Modern Waltz – the word “Waltz” originates from the German word “waltzen”, meaning “to revolve”. An offspring of the faster Viennese Waltz, this slower version known as the “Landler” became popular in Austria and Germany in the 1700’s. In America, a version known as the “Boston” became popular in the late 1800’s. The present form of the dance was born around 1910 in England and was derived from both the “Landler” and the “Boston”. The slower tempo allows more time for syncopations and picture steps, giving light and shade, and makes it more interesting to perform and watch.
Tango—Originally a light spirited dance from Spain, the Tango became very popular in the slums and bordellos of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Spanish Tango, together with the African “Tangano”, a dance imported with the Negro slaves, and the “Habanera” from Havana in Cuba were merged in the late 1800’s and became known as the “Milonga”. In the early 1900’s the “tango” was demonstrated in Paris, then London and New York. Rudolph Valentino further popularized this dance in 1921 with the making of the movie “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. Although evolving in a different direction in Europe and America, the Tango has remained a firm favorite.
Foxtrot—The Foxtrot is one of the most deceiving dances as it looks very easy, but is one of the most difficult dances to do. The dance originated in the Victorian era as the “One Step” or “Two Step”. It was alter introduced as the “Castle Walk” by the American performers, Vernon and Irene Castle. Then, in 1913 Vaudeville performer by the name of Harry Fox performed a little trot, which appealed to the social dance teachers in New York and thus the Foxtrot was born. It has gone through many changes since that time and is now comprised of more soft and fluid movements.
Viennise Waltz—Although commonly believed to have originated in Austria in the early 1800’s, it is known that a dance with similar characteristics was popular with French peasants in the mid 1500’s. The dance was known as that time as the “Volta”, (Italian for “the turn.”) The dance as we know it, was immortalized in the 1800’s by such composers as Joseph Lanner and Johann and Josef Strauss. In the middle of the 20th Century, the German, Paul Krebs choreographed the Viennese Waltz style to which we dance today. The dance enjoys a great deal of popularity not only in Europe but also in America, and has been used in many Hollywood productions.
Quick Step—The history developing out of England began in the 1850’s when the general public commemorated presidents, military exhibitions, regiments, and heroes with a march known as the Quickstep Developed during World War I in suburban New York, it was initially performed by Caribbean and African dancers. It eventually made its debut on the stage of American music-halls and immediately became popular in ballrooms. Foxtrot and Quickstep have a common origin. In the twenties many bands played the slow-Foxtrot too fast. Eventually they developed into two different dances. The slow-Foxtrot tempo was slowed down and Quickstep became the fast version of the Foxtrot
Peabody—The Peabody is an American ballroom dance that evolved from the fast foxtrot of the ragtime era of the 1910s and 1920s.