There are essentially three types of Tango – Argentine, American and International.
Argentine Tango (arrabalero): Created by the Gauchos in Argentina. It was actually an attempt to imitate a Spanish dance except that the Gauchos danced in closed position. The dancer interprets the music spontaneously without any predetermined slow or quick steps. The Tango caused a sensation and was soon to be seen in a more subdued version throughout the world.
American Tango: This type features a structure which follows musical phrasing. It is a ballroom style dance which follows a line of dance and alternates between closed and open dance positions which incorporate a particular freedom of expression.
International Tango: This is a highly disciplined and distinctively structured form which is accepted worldwide as the format for dancesport events. Dancers remain in traditional closed position throughout and express both the legato and staccato aspects of the music appropriate to this style.
Originally a Spanish dance in 3/4 time, it was changed in Cuba initially into 2/4 time then eventually into 4/4.
It is now present as a very slow type of Rumba rhythm. The music is frequently arranged with Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually implemented with Conga or Bongos.
The Bolero is characterized by long sweeping side steps and use of rise and fall to create a softness which makes this dance unique among the rhythm dances. The expanding and contracting dance position makes a very dramatic and romantic statement.
One of the most popular Latin dances in the U.S., the Cha Cha began as a variation of the Mambo called triple Mambo. It was so easy and so much fun, it became the rage of the early 1950′s. The infectious upbeat rhythm demands that sitters become dancers.
Cha Cha music is written in 4/4 time and may be played over a wide range of tempos.
In 1913, Harry Fox, a vaudeville performer, introduced a trot in the 1913 Ziegfeld Follies that pushed other trots into the background. It became America’s most popular dance and remains so to this day as the standard of social dances.
Fox Trot is a dance composed of walking steps and side steps which is adaptable for a small dance floor or large ballroom. Fox Trot music is written in 2/4 or 4/4 time.
Discotheques with high quality sound systems and flashing lights became a popular form of entertainment in Europe and America in the late 1960′s and throughout the 70′s. In the early 1970′s a new dance craze became popular on the crowded dance floors of New York.
This “Touch Disco” was called the Hustle. The Hustle marked a return to popular dances where couples danced touching each other. The popularity of modern and “retro” music with “disco” beat keeps this dance fresh, exciting and full of energy for today.
Disco music is normally written in 2/4 or 4/4 time with a strong bass beat. The melody and beat are based on rhythm and blues and accent on each of the bass beats make the music hard to resist.
Turns, spins and wraps are primary components of the Hustle. The more accomplished dancers will use syncopated timing and fakes along with elaborate arm styling.
In the 1940′s Americans became fascinated by Latin American rhythms.
The orignal Mambo music, El Guardia Con El Tolete, had its beginning in 1944 as a Rumba with a riff improvisation. The Mambo combined American Jazz with the Afro-Cuban beat. Arthur Murray Studios became famous for turning out some of the best Mambo dancers of the era. As the parent of Cha Cha and Salsa, the Mambo is an exciting challenge for all dancers.
Mambo music is written in 4/4 time with each measure divided into four beats with the important musical accents occurring on the first and third beats. This dance can be done over a wide range of tempos.
The components of Mambo are rock steps and side steps, and foot styling includes points, flicks, or kicks. 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”.
There are two schools of thought as to how this captivating dance began. One says it started as a peasant dance in the Dominican Republic by African Slaves. Another says a returning war hero, a General Maringie, danced dragging an injured leg. Whatever it’s origin, today’s exciting rhythm of the Merengue inspires dancers all over the world to move to its intoxicating beat.
Merengue music is written in 2/4, 4/4, or 6/8 time. The rhythmical accent will occur on the first beat of each measure.
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 a very rhythmical dance. With “Cuban Motion” and animated body movement, the Merengue gives a festive party appeal.
The Rumba was originally a marriage dance and is now known as “the dance of love.” Rumba became a popular ballroom dance and was introduced in the United States about 1933. It is the Americanized version of the Cuban Son and Danzon; it is in 4/4 time. The characteristic feature is to take each step without initially placing the weight on that step. Steps are made with a slightly bent knee which, when straightened, causes the hips to sway from side to side in what has become known as “Cuban Motion.” Rumba was the basis for Mambo and Cha Cha in the US and Rumba rhythms have found their way into Country Western, Blues, Rock & Roll and other popular forms of music.
This is a favored name for a type of Latin music which is enhanced by jazz textures. For the most part, it has its roots in Cuban culture; the word, Salsa, means “sauce” denoting a “hot” flavor and Salsa is best distinguished from other Latin music styles by defining it as the sound developed by Puerto Rican musicians in New York City. The dance structure is made up of mambo patterns and has a particular feeling that is associated mainly with the clave and the montuno.
This national dance of Brazil became the rage of its society in the 1930′s but began as an exhibition dance in Paris in 1905. Movie star & singer Carmen Miranda, is credited with making the dance popular in the U.S. in the early 1940′s.
Today’s Samba music is influenced by Jazz and Latin rhythms. It is written in 2/4/ 4/4 time. The music is festive and fast paced with a sound associated with Rio’s Carnival. The basic count is “Slow a Slow” or “1 & 2″.
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, is made to look effortless and carefree.
The Lindy (Swing) picked up where the Charleston left off. It had “swing-outs”, “breakaways” and “shine-steps”. With the birth of “Swing” music in the mid 1930′s the Lindy climbed the social ladder.
In August of 1935, at the Palomar Ballroom, bandleader Benny Goodman played a Flecter Henderson arrangement of “Stompin’ at the Savoy”. The rest, as they say, is history. The dance craze swept the nation, and depending on where you lived, it was the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop, or the Swing. Since those days, each successive genereation has “discovered” the fun of Swing. This most uniquely American dance is enjoyed all over the world.
Swing, Jitterbug, Jive, Shag, Lindy Hop, ect are normally written in 2/4 or 4/4 time with the musical accents occurring on the second or second and fourth beats of a measure. Swing included two general rhythms: Swing Rhythm – 1, 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6 or its equivalent; Lindy Rhythm – 1, 2, 3 & 4, 5 ,6,7 & 8 or it’s equivalent. Swing may be danced comfortably over a wide range of tempos.
A side step or a triple step (shuffle) followed by a rock step done to lively music is the fundamental pattern for this dance.
The Waltz developed in Central Europe from the Austrian dance know as the Landler. The fast whirling of partners held as if in an embrace shocked polite society. The music of Johann Strasuss and the famous ballrooms of Vienna popularized the faster version known as the Viennese Waltz.
Viennese Waltz is basically Waltz music played at a much quicker tempo. While slow Waltz is played at 28-36 measures per minute (MPM, Viennese Waltz is played at 50-60 MPM. It is usually played in 3/4 time, but some are written in 6/8 time.
Sweeping turns that gracfully move around the floor characterize this dance. This Viennese Waltz is known for its rotational movement, which is simple and elegant.
The real origin of the Waltz is rather obscure, but a dance of turns, glides, leaping, and stomping appeared in various parts of Europe at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries. In Italy, it was the Volta; France had its Volte; Germany, the Weller, and Austria had its Landler. These were round dances, but at the end of each dance, there was a short period in which the circle would break up into couples who would whirl madly round and round and finish with a jump in the air. In the Landler, the hopping gave way to a more gliding motion; that is why it is considered the forerunner of the Waltz. The Waltz regained its popularity in the 20th century; it blossomed as the Hesitation Waltz in 1913. Until the development of the hesitation, couples had waltzed in one direction until they were dizzy and then reversed direction until they were ready to pass out (or faint). The Waltz had degenerated into an endurance contest. The Hesitation resulted in the Waltz that is done today. The slow Waltz was once known as the Boston Waltz; today, the slow Waltz is called American Waltz, English Waltz or just Waltz, and the faster version is the Viennese Waltz.
A stylized Swing dance popular west of the Mississippi River, it is danced to medium or slower swing or disco music. It is characterized by slot movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and push/pull actions of the dancers.