Ballroom & Latin Dance Classes

Foxtrot

The Slow Foxtrot is a favorite among many ballroom dancers...think about the smooth dancing of Fred and Ginger. Because of its smoothness, it is often referred to as the Rolls Royce of the standard dances. Once you learn the Foxtrot, you really feel like a dancer. (The quicker version of the Foxtrot developed into the Quickstep.)
Foxtrot Characteristics

A beautiful, romantic dance, the Foxtrot is composed of fairly simple walking steps and side steps. The dance combines slow steps, which use two beats of music, and quick steps, which use one beat of music. The footwork timing is usually "slow, quick, quick" or "slow, slow, quick, quick." The Foxtrot must be danced very smoothly, with no jerking of the body. Timing is also a very important component of the Foxtrot. As the Foxtrot is more challenging than other styles of dance, it is usually recommended to master the Waltz and Quickstep prior to attempting it.

Swing

Swing dance is a lively style of social dancing in which a dancer often lifts, spins and flips his or her partner. Considered both hip and cool, swing dancing is a favorite among social dancers of all ages. Swing Style: It's not difficult to spot swing dancers...look for the couple with the biggest smiles having the most fun. Swing dance is characterized by lots of swinging, flipping and throwing of dancers. It is a non-progressive dance style because it is mostly performed in one spot, it is a popular dance for a crowded dance floor. Swing is a quick, fast-paced dance. Couples hold hands as opposed to placing hands on the shoulders or around the waist, as ballroom dancers do. Swing dancing takes a little practice, but once you learn the steps, you may never want to stop swinging.

Swing Dances: The term "swing" refers to a variety of unique partner dances.
East Coast Swing: Seen often on club or tavern dance floors, this dance was influenced by the Foxtrot.
West Coast Swing: A slotted dance in which the follower travels back and forth along a rectangle, or slot.
Jitterbug: An umbrella term generally referring to swing dancing.
Jive: Jive is a fast-paced variation of the Jitterbug.

(adapted from About.com)

Paso Doble

Paso Doble, or Pasodoble, is a lively dance modeled after the drama of the Spanish bullfight. Paso doble actually means "two-step."
Paso Doble Characteristics

The Paso Doble is a theatrical Spanish dance. Traditionally, the man is characterized as the matador (bullfighter) and the lady as his cape in the drama of a Spanish bullfight. The dancers may choose to enact the role of the torero, picador, banderillero, bull, or Spanish dancer, and may change roles throughout the dance. Based on Flamenco dancing, the Paso Doble is both arrogant and passionate. The Paso Doble is performed more as a competition dance than as a social dance.
Paso Doble History

The Paso Doble originated in southern France and began gaining popularity in the United States in the 1930s. Because the dance developed in France, the steps of the Spanish Paso Doble actually have French names.

Quickstep

Much like a fast version of the Foxtrot, the Quickstep is a ballroom dance style composed of extremely quick stepping and syncopated feet rhythms in time to fast-paced music. Although difficult to master and perform, the Quickstep is lots of fun to watch.
Characteristics of Quickstep

Elegant, smooth and glamorous, Quickstep dancers are energetic while appearing extremely light on their feet. It should appear that the feet of the dancers barely touch the ground. Much like the Foxtrot, dancers should strive for elegance. Upper body posture must be straight and strong throughout each movement.
Quickstep Action

The Quickstep usually follows a 4/4 time pattern. The basic feel of the Quickstep is slow-quick-quick, slow-quick-quick, with "slow" taking beats one and two, and "quick-quick" taking beats three and four. Most of the "slow" steps are taken on the heel, while most "quick" steps are taken on the balls of the feet.

Viennese Waltz

The Viennese Waltz is the classic, original Waltz often featured in old films. The elegance and charm of the Viennese Waltz reminds us of glamorous balls in the palaces of Europe. A waltzing couple rotates around the floor, revolving gracefully around each other. The Viennese Waltz is a quick, rotating dance, much faster-paced than the classic, slow Waltz. This simplied social version is a beautiful, non-strenuous dance that dancers of all abilities can enjoy.
Viennese Waltz Characteristics

The Viennese Waltz is characterized by sweeping turns that move gracfully around the floor. This dance is known for its simple and elegant rotational movement.

Waltz

The romantic Waltz is one of the most popular ballroom dances of all time. Considered by some as the "mother of present day dances" and the "backbone dance" of the ballroom, the Waltz is the basis for many dances. Developed in Germany, the Waltz is popular all over the world. A truly romantic dance, the Waltz is comprised of soft, round, flowing movements.
Waltz Characteristics

The Waltz is a smooth dance that travels around the line of dance. Characterized by its "rise and fall" action, the Waltz includes a step, slide, and step in 3/4 time. Dancers should move their shoulders smoothly, parallel with the floor instead of up and down. Dancers must strive to lengthen each step. On the first beat of the music, a step is taken forward on the heel, then onto the ball of the foot with a gradual rise to the toes, continuing on to the second and third beats of the music. At the end of the third beat, the heel is lowered to the floor to the starting position.

Source: About.com Guide

Cha-Cha

he Cha Cha is one of the most popular of the social Latin-American dances. Lively and flirtatious, the Cha Cha is full of passion and energy.
Cha Cha Characteristics

The Cha Cha is a vibrant, flamboyant and playful dance. The light and bubbly feel of the Cha Cha gives it a unique sense of fun for dancers throughout the world. The Cha Cha requires small steps and lots of hip motion (Cuban motion), as it is danced in 4/4 time. The fourth beat is split into two, giving it the characteristic 2,3,4 & 1 rhythm. Therefore, five steps are danced to four beats as in the "One, two, cha cha cha" rhythm.
History of the Cha Cha

Also called the Cha Cha Cha, this unmistakable dance originated in Cuba in the 1940s. Composer and violinist Enrique Jorrin developed the dance as a variant of the Mambo and Rumba. The name is onomatopoeic, derived from the sound of dancers' shoes as they shuffled around the floor.

Jive

Jive is one of the five International Latin dances. A lively, and uninhibited variation of Jitterbug, many of its basic patterns are similar to those of East Coast Swing.
Characteristics of Jive

Jive and East Coast Swing share many figures, as well as the same music style and tempo. The basic look and feel of Jive is lots and lots of energy, with the legs portraying a pumping action. Both the East Coast Swing and basic Jive consist of two triple steps and a rock step. The Jive differs in that the count begins with the rock step, which is counted "1,2." The two triple steps are counted "3 and 4" and "5 and 6."
History of Jive

Originating in the United States in the 1940s, Jive was influenced by the Boogie, Rock & Roll, African/American Swing and Lindyhop.

Salsa

Salsa is a popular social dance throughout Latin America as well as in North America, Europe, Australia, and some countries in Asia and the Middle East. Salsa dance movements originate from the Cuban Son dancing of the 1940s more specifically through the beat of Son Montuno with strong influences from the dance of Danzon, Mambo, Guaguanco and other Afro-Cuban folkloric dancing.

Today there are many various styles of salsa dancing because of geographical dispersion and cultural syncretism. Some of the most common styles are: LA-style, New York-style, and Miami-style.

Miami-style Casino Developed by Cuban migrants to Florida and centered around Miami, this form of Cuban Salsa fused with American culture and LA Style. Major differences of Miami-style Casino is that it is exclusive dance to downbeat (On1) and has elements of shines and show style added to it following repertoires of North American Styles.

Los Angeles style L.A. style is danced on 1, in a slot, with a measure of easiness and adaptability to it. It is strongly influenced by the Mambo, Swing, Argentine Tango and Latin Ballroom dancing styles. L.A. style places strong emphasis on sensuousness, theatricality, aerobics and musicality. The two essential elements of this dance are the forward–backward basic and the cross-body lead.

New York style Like LA-style salsa, New York style is danced in a slot. However, unlike LA style, it is danced on the second beat of the music ("on 2"), and the follower steps forward on the first measure of the music, not the leader. Though he did not create New York style salsa, Eddie Torres is credited with popularizing it, and for having the follower step forward on the first beat. New York style salsa emphasizes harmony with the percussive instruments in salsa music, such as the congas, timbales, and clave, since many or all of those instruments often mark the second beat in the music. (adapted from Wikipedia.com)

Mambo

Originally from Cuba, the Mambo is enjoyed throughout the world at both the social and competitive dance levels. The mambo is a favorite of ballroom audiences because of its high energy level and infectious rhythms. Popularized in recent years by singers such as Ricky Martin, the Mambo is fascinating and diverse.
Mambo Characteristics

The feel of the Mambo is based mostly on forward and backward movements. The basic components of the dance include rock steps and side steps, with occasional points, kicks and flicks of the feet. Important to Mambo is the distinctive hip movement, hence the meaning of the word mambo: "shake it."
Mambo Action

Some say the Mambo is a flirtacious, sensual dance, sometimes almost raunchy. Mambo dancers appear quite passionate and seem to express that passion with the movements of their hips. Exaggerated hip movements combined with long, flowing movements and sharp, quick steps contribute to the sensuous feel of the Mambo.

Rumba

The Rumba is a dance that tells a story of love and passion between a strong, male lover and a coy, teasing woman. Full of sensual movements, the Rumba is considered by many to be the sexiest of the ballroom dances. "Rumba" is a term that refers to a variety of dances or a "dance party." This dance of love is one of the most popular ballroom dances and is seen around the world at nightclubs, parties, weddings and dance competitions.
Rumba Characteristics

The Rumba is a very slow, serious, romantic dance with flirtation between the partners. The dance is fun to watch, as many of its basic dance figures of the dance have a teasing theme in which the lady flirts with and then rejects her male partner, often with apparent sexual aggression. The Rumba spotlights the lady's rhythmic body movements and hip actions resulting in intense, almost steamy, scenes of passion.
History of Rumba

The rumba is often referred to as the "grandfather of the Latin dances." Originating in Cuba, it first came to the United States in the early 1920s. The Rumba is the slowest of the five competition Latin and American dances.

Samba

Developed in Brazil during the 19th century, the Samba is considered the dance of celebration and joy at Carnival celebrations in Rio. Lively and rhythmical, there are many types of Samba dances, just like there are many types of Samba music. Ballroom partner Samba, one of the popular Latin dances in ballroom competitions, is made up of many different South American dances mixed into one. In Brazil, a Samba dancer is known as a Sambista.
Samba Characteristics

Before Samba became a ballroom dance style, there were many styles of partner dances as well as solo Samba dances. As with the solo Samba, partner ballroom Samba has a quick beat that requires fast footwork. Over the years, the Samba has incorporated elaborate tricks, turns, and acrobatic feats into its basic set of figures. The main characteristics of the Samba are rapid steps taken on quarter beats and a rocking, swaying motion of the dancers.

Tango

One of the most fascinating of all dances, the tango is a sensual ballroom dance that originated in South America in the early twentieth century. Tango is usually performed by a man and a woman, expressing an element of romance in their synchronized movements. Originally, the tango was performed only by women, but once it spread into Argentina, it developed into a dance for couples. The popularity of the tango has greatly increased over the years. Argentine Tango is much more intimate than Modern Tango, and is well-suited to dancing in small settings. Argentine Tango retains the intimacy of the original dance.
Tango Styles:

Several different styles of tango exist, each with its own individual flair. Most of the styles are danced in either open embrace, with the couple having space between their bodies, or in close embrace, where the couple is closely connected at either the chest or the hip area. Many people are familiar with "ballroom tango," characterized by strong, dramatic head snaps.
Tango Techniques:

Tango is danced to a repetitive style of music. The count of the music is either 16 or 32 beats. While dancing the tango, the lady is held in the crook of the man’s arm. She holds her head back and rests her right hand on the man's lower hip. The man must allow the lady to rest in this position while leading her around the floor in a curving pattern. Tango dancers must strive to make a strong connection with the music as well as their audience.

Source: About.com Guide

Other Dances

We also teach: Merengue, Bolero, Peabody, Hustle, Polka, West Coast Swing, Argentine Tango, Bossa Nova, etc.