It is generally accepted that there are two styles of ballroom dancing - International and "American Smooth". Of the two the American Smooth is more relaxed and often more stylish and exciting.
The basic principals of ballroom still apply to the American Smooth but it is less restrictive allowing freedom for emotional expression and musical interpretation.
Partners do not need to stay in continuous close body hold, they can separate, perform side by side, incorporate open positions, solo actions, and even lifts. The American Smooth is applied to both Ballroom and Latin genres with the exception of the Quickstep.
Originating in Buenos Aires, and Montevideo, Uruguay, the Argentine Tango grew quickly and spread internationally.
It has a clear, repetitive beat, a strong tango-rhythm based on 2/4 timing. It is danced in an embrace the connection being chest-to-chest.
Interestingly this dance does not actually have a basic step pattern. It relies heavily on improvisation and musicality. Characterised by complex leg and foot articulations which are often high, rapid and interlacing.
Think passion, emotion and improvisation.
The Waltz is the oldest of all ballroom dances. It dates back to Vienna in the early 1800's. It is a progressive and turning dance that requires 3/4 timing. The style of the dance is smooth, and lilting and can easily be defined by the use rise and fall and gentle sways which epitomises the dance. It features a dominant heel lead on count one to achieve the fall. On counts 2,3 the steps are taken onto the toes to achieve the rise.
Dating back to antiquity Belly Dancing is based on one of the many social dances native to the Middle East. It is said to have been performed by people of all ages and both sexes during festive occasions such as weddings and other social gatherings for fun and celebration.
The movements focus on sensual torso articulation rather than precise footwork or steps. Undulating body isolations are the main feature with the dancer using all parts of the body to create the desired effect. A dancer will use her head, hair, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, belly, hips, bottom, legs and feet and sometime props such as finger-cymbals, veils and tambourines.
The characteristic of the dance is that all body parts move dependently so the body ripples with undulations and isolations, then shimmies and circles to reflect the rhythm and melody of the music. Describes as memorising, entertaining and exciting to watch and also to dance.
Bhangra is a traditional folk dance which originates from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. Originally danced to celebrate the coming of spring and harvest. It transcends the divisions of class and is part of numerous celebrations.
The dance rhythm is set by the Dhols which are large traditional North Indian drums played with cane sticks. There are many types of dance, some are especially for men some just for women. It is often danced in circles and uses a lot of arm and shoulder movement.
More recently Bhangra became popularised by the Sikh community who helped to integrate the music and dance into the Bollywood film industry.
The Bolero is one of the most expressive slow latin dances: the use of arms and hands, legs and feet, as well as facial expression, all contribute to its beauty. It is danced in 4/4 time about 96 - 104 bpm with a basic rhythm of Slow, Quick, Quick. The modified form of rock step where the lowering of the body causes the second step of the rock to be longer than the first is distinct in the Bolero. The dance emphasises body stretch and shape. It is stylised by the strong lead of the foot on the slow count with body moving to follow over the whole two beats.
During the 1950s, Boogie or Boogie-Woogie was also known as "rock 'n' roll." It is a swing dance closely related to East Cost Swing and has a distinctive 8-beat rhythm.
Although the dance fits with rhythm-and-blues, rock and roll, rockabilly, swing and neo-swing rhythms it's often paired with piano boogie music. The footwork reflects the rhythm and melody changes so there is a great deal of improvisation and musical interpretation. It is widespread in Europe and can be danced at tempos ranging from very fast to slow.
Ceilidh / Cèilí Dancing
Ceilidh or Cèilí is a Gaelic word meaning “A Visit.” Originating with the Gaels of both Scotland and Ireland - Cèilidh (Scottish spelling) Cèilí (Irish spelling) are informal gatherings of friends, relatives and neighbours. A Ceilidh is socially inclusive having the benefit of easy steps and repeated patterns with a professional “Caller” to call out the steps. …. “do-si-do, right hand star, swing your partner" etc.,
Danced in facing lines but also in squares to traditional music played by fiddle, flute, tin whistle, accordion, bodhran it is lively and cheerful and features jigs, reels and swings. Patterns are often named after famous regiments or historical battles, The Gay Gordons, the Siege of Ennis, The Dashing White Sergeant are some of the popular dances.
Cha Cha Cha is a latin rhythm dance, closely related to Rumba and Mambo.
It is danced mainly in place as steps are quite compact, feet usually about 12 inches apart. It can be danced to a full range of tempos from slow and staccato to fast and lively.
There are two distinct option for dancing Cha Cha Cha A) Begin on the first count (the sting downbeat) as in 1, 2, 3 & 4 (often referred to as a shuffle pattern) or begin on the second count = 2, 3 4 & 1. The four and one option is often referred to a Ballroom Cha Cha and that timing often hits the phrase of the latin beat.
Clog Dancing dates back to the 18th century - a popular traditional dance where the dancer uses his wooden-soled shoes (clogs) as a musical instrument to accompany the dancing. The steps would beat out a rhythm making a percussion sound and dancers would improvise a variety of dance steps to create their dance routines. Clog dancing can also be structured as in the traditional clog dancing of the Netherlands or performed totally freestyle.
Clogging is danced all over the world from the Appalachian Mountains of North America to the cotton-mill towns of England. It was hugely popular in the industrial areas of Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well as across mainland Europe. The dance formed travelled to America with European immigrants and was adapted and blended with different styles and music. It now has several derivatives and is also know as Buck Dancing and Flatfooting.
Clogging formed the foundations of modern-day Tap dance.
Eastern Swing or East Coast Swing (or just Swing), evolved from the Lindy Hop and is perhaps the most famous American folk dance. The best known forms of Swing include the Charleston, Black Bottom, and Shag. The Swing is a spot dance that does not move along the line of dance. Free rhythmic interpretation is characteristic, using single, double or triple rhythms. A relaxed shuffling movement and use of upper body sway is also used to highlight the Swing.
Folk Dancing is a generic term describing a multitude of traditional dance styles from around the world. Used to teach local history and keep traditions and stories alive. From African tribal dances, to English Morris Dancing folk dances have been handed down with little change for generations. They celebrate anything from religious events, passage rights, weddings and battles.
In China the Dragon and the Lion Dance are performed to celebrate Chinese New Year and cultural and religious festivals. and date back to the Han dynasty. The Scottish Sword dance was created in 1054 when a Celtic prince, Ghillie Callum, crossed his own bloody sword over the sword of his defeat rival. He danced over the swords in a victory celebration and this became a ritual among the highland warriors before battle. Likewise the New Zealand Haka which is performed to proclaim strength and to intimidate the opposition is a traditional Folk dance.
Anyone joining a 'Conga' line or enjoying the 'Hokey Cokey' is Folk dancing whether they know it or not!
A traditional ballroom partner dance. It is one of the most popular social dances. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Famous for it's timing call of - Slow Slow Quick Quick Slow.
The dance is said to be named after Harry Fox who wanted to dance his two-step routine to a Ragtime beat. It has evolved into a graceful and romantic dance often described as the dancer's dance.
A relatively new form of dance beginning in the 1960’s Hip Hop is as much a culture as it is a dance form. It has a style of its own featuring free expression using a combination of moves including breaking, popping, locking, gliding, ticking, vibrating and krumping.
Hip Hop appeals to the young generation. It demands a high level of skill, energy and fitness. The music is funky and fast with a strong beat and it is often linked with rap. It is most often performed in the round with the audience circling the dancers.
It already has an “Old School and New School” division as Hip Hop moves have progressed from basic Running Man, Roger Rabbit and Robocop to moves adding Martial Arts, Acrobatics, Reggae and Soul Train.
There are two main types of Hula performed today: the Hula Kahiko (ancient) and the Hula Auana (modern) but both forms originated from a series of only six classic moves. It is danced by both men and women traditionally dressed in skirts made of palm leaves with flower garlands (na lei) adorning their arms, ankles and heads.
As Hula is a form of story telling it can be performed either seating down (noho) or standing (luna). Its graceful, flowing movements depict nature and life and the musical instruments echo the sounds of nature. Hula portrays Hawaiians' beliefs, loves, values, history, legends, and the a deep connection with the land and sea.
The Hustle refers to a number of dance moves put together to form several dances which were popular in the early 70s. It became synonymous with John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever when the film depicted both the Line dance Hustle and the Hustle partner dance. At that time there was a popular line dance called The Continental which gave way to the Bus Stop followed by the Electric Slide. Today, the term Hustle refers to the slotted partner dance danced to contemporary pop music.
Irish Step Dance is a traditional Irish dance which can be performed solo or by groups large or small. It has two distinct styles and two different types of dance shoes are worn accordingly. The soft shoes, Ghillies are similar to ballet slippers. Hard shoes are similar to tap shoes except the tips and heels are made of resin or fibreglass to make them lighter and to make the sound louder.
The dance is performed with a controlled and rigid upper body, straight arms and back, and quick, precise movements of feet and legs. Irish Step Dance is known and loved the world over and was more recently popularised by Riverdance and Lord of the Dance.
Not to be confused with Irish Set Dance which is based on French quadrilles and danced by four couples in a square. Set Dancing has choreographed patterns with step sheet descriptions and routines have names e.g.The Blackthorn Stick, The Drunken Gauger, Rub the Bag.
Jazz is a relatively modern form of dance heavily influenced by the sounds and rhythms of Jazz music. It's roots are closely linked with moves created among slaves as they danced to find a release from physical and emotional pain.
Although a highly technical dance style that requires professional training, dedication and passion it has become hugely popular.
Jazz embraces improvisation - a dancer’s individual style and skills become the language to reflect a unique interpretation of the music. Dancers must be physically fit, and very flexible. Steps call for whole body movement to form beautiful lines and figures and the step will often feature leaps, jumps, aerials and air steps.
Popular in the 1930 and 40’s the Jitterbug originated in America to the "Big Band Sound" and became very popular in Europe during World War II when it was introduced by the U.S. armed forces.
The name “Jitterbug” is somewhat of a catch-all - as it basically covers any type of Swing dance that requires a strong four beat rhythm, from Lindy Hop to Jive, from Rock 'n Roll to Shag.
It is a high-energy fast-paced dance with multiple turns, lifts, spins and tricks. Partners may dance side by side, as well as in a face-to-face which is characteristic of many variants of swing dance. It requires lots of stamina and skill.
Jive evolved from the popular American dances of the 1930's and is a kin to the East Coast Swing. Danced to fast, lively, swing music in 4/4 time about 176 bp.m. It is a happy, bouncy, energetic dance with lots of kicks and flicks and tricks. It generally starts with a rock step counted as 1,2. followed by two triple step counted as 3 & 4 - 5 & 6. During WWII American soldiers brought the dance Europe where it became very popular.
Lindy or Lindy Hop as it is sometimes called (with respect to Charles Lindbergh’s first solo flight from New York to Paris) to is considered to be a cultural phenomenon that broke through the race barrier during segregation.
It is a swing dance dating back to 1920's at the famous Savoy Ballroom which took up a whole block on 141st and Lenox Ave and accommodated 5,000 dancers a night seven nights a week. The Savoy was one of the few racially integrated ballrooms where White and Black could dance, be inspire and share moves. The Lindy consists off 6 and 8 count steps with wild and spontaneous dance moves but it can be cool and sophisticated too.
Line dance is the most popular dance genre of modern times. People dance in lines and perform set routines to a variety of music genres. The stereotypical cowboy image that Line dance once had has mostly disappeared with more casual, modern clothing replacing hats and boots.. The appeal of social Line dancing is that it has no boundaries, no restrictions or rules. It encompasses steps and styles from every dance genre giving it an un-parrelled variety and universal appeal.
Playfords: The English Dancing Master (1651) features a number of Contre (Country) Dances and is the earliest known published record of people 'dancing in lines'. This form of dance originated not in the Great ballrooms one see's in films, but on the greenery of the village green - by the Workers and Serfs.
Unlike today's partner's dancing:
The holding of the Ladies waist by her opposite dancing partner was seen plentiful on the village green, but deemed 'undignified' and only fit for peasant dancing by the Gentry and Aristocrats of the day. The only physical contact the Male dancer was to have with the Female was in the form of the lightly touching of the fingers (no clasping). .. saying that, there was one dance which was deemed quite 'shocking' (but danced all the same) and employed a body to body contact - this dance being called The Volt.
One of the earliest, authenticated modern day line dances goes back to 1968.
The Mambo is a fusion of Swing and Rumba – a very popular latin rhythm dance of Cuba. Cuban dancers describe mambo as "feeling the music" and is characterised by the distinctive hip movement. The basic components of the dance include rock steps forward and back and to the sides with points, kicks and flicks. The meaning of the word mambo: "shake it". Musical timing of the Mambo is 4/4.. Dance script notation can be either 2-3-4-(1)-2-3-4-(1) or 2&3(H)4&1(H) - the ‘&’ actually being a full step or count. Simplistically, its 1-2-3-Hold-5-6-7-Hold.
In formal Latin dance classes and to achieve the correct timing of the dance to the rhythm, the dance starts on the SECOND beat.
Authentic Merengue is one of the simplest Latin dances to learn. The beat is clear and the rhythm constant. A popular Dominican dance, the emphasis is on simplicity. When turns are used, they are casual walking steps rather than the spin turns. Merengue is generally written in 4/4 time and you move on every beat. However it can also be written in 2/4 time.
One of the most popular forms of contemporary social dance because its basic pattern is simple to learn.
It is most frequently danced as a smooth slow dance to mid tempo ballads in 4/4 time with the simple SQQ pattern. The dance has a gentle gliding, even floating character ideal for slow dancing. However, as in all dance it has its variations and in some areas it is danced with more pep and bounce.
The dance is said to have originated in California by Buddy Schwimmer who needed a slow dance for love songs on a packed dance floor.
At all good parties you will see party-goers on the floor enjoying the fun and laughter of a traditional party dance. From the old time favourites like the Hokey Cokey or the Conga to latest greatest such as Cha Cha Slide or Gangham Style.
Adult party dances generally have a few simple steps and can be easily picked up. Favourites generally go with a specific song like YMCA, The Birdie Dance, Staying Alive, The Twist, The Locomotion, the Macarena and the Time Warp to name but a few. Children’s party dances and singing games date back to medieval times with dances like Ring a Ring o’ Roses, The Farmer’s in the Dell and Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes.
A lively dance characterised by the drama of the Spanish bullfight. The man performing as the matador and the lady his cape. It is based on Flamenco dancing it is passionate and arrogant and therefore much more of a demonstration dance than a social one. Paso Doble is Spanish for "Two-step" There is little rise and fall and no Latin hip action but a great deal of attitude and arrogance.
Disco is a freestyle form of dance with roots in the Discotheques of the 70's. A popular version was the Hustle ("Saturday Night Fever" fame). Most disco songs have a steady four-on-the-floor beat, a quaver or semi-quaver hi-hat pattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat, and a heavy, syncopated bass line. The dance is characterised by hip and pelvic moves, along with raised arms, performed in time to the beat of the music.
In a basic form of Quickstep is a combination of walks, chasses and lock steps but advanced dancers add runs, hops, jumps and a variety of syncopations.
It is an elegant and glamorous dance with a brisk tempo.
According to Dance Lovers website, it is a proven fact that the energy exerted while dancing a 60 second Quickstep is equivalent to running a mile in record time!! Basic timing might be slow, slow, quick, quick, but in Quick Step anything goes.
It was during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s that the new musical genre we know as Rock-n-Roll became popular.
Songs like Rock Around The Clock by Bill Hayley and the Comets, Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley, Shake Rattle by Jerry Lee Lewis and Maybellene by Chuck Berry inspired the youth of the day and soon dances were created to go with the new exciting music.
The dance style itself evolved from Swing and Lindy Hop with similar moves and patterns but it was the style of music that stirred the passion. Rock-n-Roll quickly became part of the mainstream culture and is still enjoyed around the world today. It’s popularity wained only to make way for the Beat music of the 60’s.
The Rumba is a Latin dance famed for (sensual) moves and (exaggerated) hip sways which are achieved by bending and straightening the knees. In general, it is danced without rise and fall and the steps are compact with the use of free arms in various figures. Written in 4/4 time - one full step is completed in every two measure of music.
There are THREE types of Rumba..
The slow, very sensual Bolero 80-94 bpm ..but as it’s not always easy to project sensuality on the dancefloor (there are a few excellent dances out there) most dancers prefer the following two tempo’s
The International at 96-118 bpm
The American at 120-144 bpm
There are also two main rhythms..SQQ or QQS.. the rhythm has to match the timing of the dance for it to look aesthetically pleasing (Choreographers please note).
An uptempo and fun version of the Mambo. The Salsa has a fast strong beat and is danced with high energy.
The dance originates from Cuba and is based on 4/4 timing counted in eights.
The forward and back movement is a standard Salsa step counted to eight beats as in 1, 2, 3 hold on 4. Then continue with 5,6,7 hold on 8. Think of it as quick, quick, quick, hold.
A street festival dance that originated in Brazil, the Samba is often referred to as the “Carnival Dance” It is a lively, rhythmical dance in 2/4 time about 100 bpm but using three steps to each bar. Every two beats has three steps. The rhythm and the simplicity of the basic step is what gives Samba its appeal and great sense of fun. Skilled dancers can add a variety of moves to spice it up even more. A feature of the Samba is the "Samba Bounce"
Scottish Country Dancing is a traditional dance that focuses on social interaction and fun as much as upholding correct dancing technique. It is generally danced in formations known as “sets’ and is NOT to be confused with Scottish Highland Dancing which is performed solo.
SCD features older styles such as strathspeys, reels, rants and jigs depending on the type of music played. For the most part figures are in 2, 4, or 8 bars of music. It is a very popular dance style performed around the world by dance lovers of every age and nationality.
Carolina Shag - Myrtle Beach
Shag dancing was created by fun-loving, carefree teenagers In the late1930’s dancing on the sand in Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina. The warm sunshine and the “Beach Music” of the time attracted and inspired the teenagers and they improvised dance steps to accommodate dancing on sand and so the Shag was born. It is a six-count / eight-count swing dance performed in a slot. Said to be closely linked to East Coast Swing with a splash of West Coast Swing.
In 1997 the song “Dancin’, Shaggin’ on the Boulevard” was released by Country band Alabama. It reflect their days playing in the clubs of Myrtle Beach.
Believed to have originated in Argentina, but also claimed to have come from Spain.
It’s dramatic and exciting, romantic and sexy.
The Tango, with all its staccato movements, develops a strong sense of feeling for music.
Generally counted as 1, 2, 3, & 4, it is danced with flexed knees, there is no rise and fall in the Tango but a lot of attitude.
This is a county western partner dance which has regional variations. It is a progressive dance and can be performed in various partner positions - tradition closed, Sweetheart, Shadow, Wrap, or Skater to name a few. The basic two-step pattern consists of two quick step, followed by two slow steps as in Quick, Quick, Slow, Slow. For counting purposes think of the Quick step as the whole count and the Slows step as needing two counts. The counting equates to 1, 2, 3, 5. i.e. Quick (1), Quick (2), Slow (3), Slow (5). Dancing may start with either the slow steps, or the quick steps, as the local custom dictates.
This dance requires a great deal of control and stamina, due to the tempo of the music. It is danced at 180 bpm. The Viennese Waltz is a progressive dance that features continuous turns alternating between natural turns into reverse turns. Traditionally Viennese Waltzers do not pass each other on the floor. Couples travel counterclockwise around the room following each other. Rise and fall is shallower than in the traditional waltz and the steps are small and compact.
The West Coast Swing is a slot dance, that is it is dance in place like the East Cost Swing but this dance does not travel round it is danced within a slot. Its slower tempo allows for free rhythmic interpretations using single, double, triple and various other syncopated rhythms. A relaxed, sometimes shuffling movement and upright position are characteristic. Occasional use of hip movements and or push style is also used to enhance the style of the dance. Three basic patterns form the character of this dance they are the Sugar, the Pass and the Whip.