Choose a letter to learn about different types of dances.
The Alegrias is one of the oldest of Spanish Gypsy
dances and is often called the “Queen” of Flamenco dances. It is the purest
and more refined of the repertoire. It suggests the movements of the bullfight
and is usually danced by a woman alone.
An 18th century dance. Also a figure used in our present day Barn dances.
A dance created in Paris by the people of the underworld.
It portrayed their uninhibited passions. The woman was flung about, kicked
or embraced with equal fervor. This style was later imitated in Tangos or
Originated in the West Indies where it
was danced only by the lowest classes. The name is from the African Tanganya.
The dance found its way into Argentina and then to France and finally into
the United States in a modified form about 1914. Latin American ballroom Tango
is danced in 4/4 time. NOTE: See also Continental Tango, English Tango, and
An old time Barn dance depicting a salesman
of tin ware who came from Arkansas.
A type of slow Samba rhythm from Brazil that became
popular in North America during the 50′s.
A form of Swing popularized during the 50′s in
An old Mexican air from the province of Vera Cruz,
Mexico, to which a charming folk dance depicts two lovers who throwing a narrow
sash on the floor manage to tie it into a knot with their dancing feet.
The national dance of Colombia, South America.
It is characterized by cross accents in the music. It was formerly danced
only by the natives but became a ballroom dance to be added to the gentle
Pasillo, a favorite with Colombian society.
Barn dances are the product of our colonial
ancestors who recreated them from England’s Country Dances. They were performed
in halls and barns as get-togethers among America’s first social gatherings.
Afro-Brazilian jam sessions. In the Batuque the
dancers form a circle around one performer. This solo dancer chooses his successor
for the exhibition spot while shouting the word “Sama.”
A type of Rumba in which the accent is on the
second eighth note of the first beat. Origins spring from Martinique and Cuba.
This dance originated in a church in South Carolina
which had been turned into a black nightclub called the “Big Apple.” Mr. Arthur
Murray did the choreography as we know it. The dance includes all the earlier
Swing steps and requires a caller. The caller shouts “Shine” and asks for
one of the swing steps. A single couple steps into the center and takes the
initiative by performing an exhibition of that popular step. This dance was
very popular in the 1930′s.
Created in New York, circa 1926. This dance
succeeded the Charleston. It may have originally come from New Orleans as
did Jazz music. The stomping steps, the knee sway and the shuffling are definitely
African American in origin. It was the black solo or couple dance about 1925.
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.
Just what the name implies. It starts as a
Bolero and finished as a Son. The Son is faster, with sharper percussion and
is less subtle than the Bolero.
African American jazz dance. The knees are
held close together and the hips sway from side-to-side as the dancer travels
forward. This figure is now seen in a variety of rhythm dances including Mambo,
Cha-Cha and Swing.
A dance similar to the Lambeth Walk. The
dancers bump hips at regular intervals. It is performed in Waltz time to one
special tune. 1940.
This is a form of Swing similar to basic Lindy
but with kicks added.
The music was born of a marriage of Brazilian
rhythms and American Jazz. The dance, which is said to have originated at
Carnegie Hall in 1961, is based on the slower, more subtle Salon Samba and
features either type of Clave Beat or a Jazz Samba in 4/4 time.
The “Little Boat.” It is Cuban dancing with a
very exaggerated swaying of the shoulders.
A Spanish Gypsy dance. Livelier and more spirited
than most of the repertoire. It’s usually danced by a whole group and could
be called a Flamenco jam-session.
This dance resembles the Conga line but has
three jumps instead of a kick at the end of the phrase. The music is Ray Anthony.
The Cake Walk is said to have originated in
Florida about 1880. The style of walking was practiced by the African Americans
as an art. The dignity of the promenade was rewarded by a prize, usually a
cake. The winner cut the cake and shared it with the others.
The music of the typical ballads in England sung
by the natives of Trinidad. There was no real dance but because of the extreme
popularity of the music, in 1956, possibly due to the singer Harry Bellafonte,
many steps were created. Most of them resemble the Cuban Bolero or the Martinique
Beguine or even Swing.
In Paris about 1890 a dance caused quite a stir.
It was the Can Can. Women kicked their black silk stocking legs high into
the air – a most daring feat for the time. The Can Can may have been an off-shoot
of the Polka or even the Quadrille, or both. Today it is a music hall routine
danced only by women.
A native of Rio de Janeiro. Also the abbreviation
of the Brazilian dance, the Samba Carioca. At the Carioca Carnival, from the
moment the music starts until it dies off, people get together in cordoes
(chains or cues). Holding hands in this fashion they sing and sway their bodies
to the Samba-Carioca and the Marchas.
A very popular Swing style from Virginia
down through the Carolinas into areas of Georgia. Most often danced to “Beach
Music” performed by such groups as the Tams, The Embers, The Drifters and
a wide range of “Motown” recording artists. The dance showcases the man and
resembles West Coast Swing with the same slot movement, shuffles, coaster
steps and pronounced lean resulting in role of the partner movement. The music
tempo is slow to medium and can be danced comfortably by all ages.
The Castle Walk was first greeted and demonstrated
at the Cafe de Paris in France by Irene & Vernon Castle in 1913 and introduced
to New York society by then in 1914. The dance was characterized by a series
of walking steps on the toes, executed with an elegant type of swagger – frequently
punctuated with a light hop in attitude at an appropriate point in the musical
From the less inhibited night clubs and dance
halls the Mambo underwent subtle changes. It was triple mambo, and then peculiar
scraping and shuffling sounds during the “tripling” produced the imitative
sound of Cha-Cha Cha. This then became a dance in itself. Mambo or triple
Mambo or Cha-Cha as it is now called, is but an advanced stage in interpretive
social dancing born of the fusion of progressive American and Latin music.
A Mexican Folk dance from the province of Chiapas.
Its popularity is due to the charming air plus the audience participation
during the time the dancers request the audience to clap hands with them.
It is in 3/4 time and based on Spanish patterns.
Originated in the early 20′s in illegal drinking
places during the time of prohibition. The combination of a particular type
of jazz music and the highly polished, slippery floors of the Speakeasies
gave rise to an in and out flicking of the feet which essentially characterized
the dance. It was theatricized and embellished with typical vaudeville moves
in a Ziegfield Follies production in 1921. It has since been featured in many
films and theater productions, its most platant revival being its utilization
within the Broadway musical “The Boy Friend.”
A freestyle dance style originating in the Blue
Ridge Mountains characterized by double time stomping and tap steps resembling
a tap dance with the upper body held straight and upright.
Afro-Cuban dance play.
An African-Cuban dance characterized by the extreme
violence of accents on the strong beats in 2/4 time. The Conga beat thus used
has a rhythmic anticipation of the second beat in every other measure. The
Conga was very popular in the late thirties. It was performed in a formation
known as the Conga chain. The steps are simple, one, two, three, kick at which
time the partners move away from each other.
CONTINENTAL OR INTERNATIONAL TANGO:
A refined, technical
version of the Argentine Tango. It is probably the most demanding of all smooth
dances to execute. It calls for perfect control, phrasing and musicianship.
The subtle movements, changes of weight and the design of the steps are never
stilted but follow the melodic phrasing and are created anew with each new
A French square dance in double time, introduced
into the court about 1600. Forerunner of the Country Dance.
The musical ballads called the Corridos play
a very important part in Latin American musical life. The words are often
topical and relate to political events. It has been suggested that the word
Corrido is derived from the word correr, to run, because the singer has to
run for his life when caught in the process of reciting a subversive ditty.
Corridos are particularly popular in Mexico.
A Country & Western dance enjoyed
throughout the United States and elsewhere for its enthusiastic music and
energetic movements. Characteristic movements include kicks, stomps, shuffles,
and turns in place or traveling around the room. The man and the lady generally
begin in shadow position with the left foot and they use the same foot on
the same beat of music throughout their patterns.
English Folk dances as opposed to the court
dances of bygone times. During the Colonial days of America these Country
dances became our present day square dance, jig reels, as well as our Virginia
Reel, Arkansas Traveler and Paul Jones.
COUNTRY WESTERN TWO-STEP:
The Two-Step originated in the
1800′s by people who arrived here from Europe. It was an offspring of the
minuet and they danced it as QQSS. In the old Western days when women were
not allowed to dance with men, men danced together and that is the reason
for the hard on the shoulder holding a can of beer and the other hand to the
side. The only women who eventually danced with these men were Indian Squaws
and that is where all the turns came about, because Indian women loved to
spin. Two-step is a Western dance whose popularity has spread all over the
A Cuban dance which starts slowly and gradually
accelerates at certain melodic intervals between chorus and verse: the dancers
stop to talk but remain on the floor until a certain beat tells them to resume
their dances. This dance, which might be called a Rumba variation is in a
4/4 time. Its stately music is popular in the tropics because it is not strenuous.
It is know as the aristocrat of all Cuban dancing because of its dignified
and stately appearance.
A general style of very intimate closed
position partner dancing popularized in the late 80′s by Actor/Dancer Patrick
Swayze in the movie “Dirty Dancin’”. Danced to popular fast or slow music
and characterized by sensuous and seductive movements by both man and woman.
The dance of the Dominican Republic
is 2/4 time with syncopation of the first beat interpreted by the dancers
as a slight limp. It became popular in 1957.
The style is the same as the other English
Competition dances, and the steps are not too unlike Fox-Trot steps with a
few Latin flourishes as interpreted by English dance teachers.
An Argentine dance called Escondido (literally
hidden for in it the female partner hides from the male) belongs
to the Gato type rhythmically and choreographically.
Originally a Portuguese song and dance absorbed by
Latin America and especially by Brazil as a pattern for the Samba. The steps
of the Fado are based on a hop, a skip and a kick in 2/4 time. It makes a
charming exhibition folk dance.
Most important of the modern Spanish dances,
for couples. The dance begins slowly and tenderly, the rhythm marked by the
clack of castanets, snapping of fingers, and stomping of feet. The speed gradually
increases to a whirl of exhilaration. There is a sudden pause in the music
toward the end of each figure when the dancers stand rigid in the attitude
caught by the music. They move again only when the music is resumed. This
is also characteristic of Seguidillas, similar to Jota.
A dance Haute from Provence, France. A typical
variation was a quick gallop step danced by a procession winding in and out
in single file, headed by a musician who played a drum and fife at the time
skipping along without losing a beat. 6/8 or 4/4 time.
The dance of Spain most suited to a man. It is
a pure Gypsy dance in 2/4 time consisting of heel work, fast double turns
and falls. It is considered one of the most exciting of all the same Flamenco
A popular dance done to Fox-Trot music in 4/4 time
(New Orleans jazz type music) whereby the dancers rock their pelvis forward
and back balancing on one foot and then the other in a slow gyrating manner.
Originated in 1961.
Said by some to have been originated by Harry
Fox (1913). It is now a standard ballroom dance the world over and serves
as a good foundation for social dances in 2/4 or 4/4 time. NOTE: See also
Ad lib dance movements with no fixed structure.
Danced without touching partner to a variety of music styles including Rock
‘n Roll, and discotheque beats.
The Frug was born from a dance called the Chicken
which had a lateral body movement and was used as a change of pace during
the Twist. So as the kids grew lazier they decided to do less work, and started
moving only their hips while standing still. As the hips swing from side to
side they started making up arm movements for the dance. From this came the
Swim, the Monkey, the Dog, the Watusi, the Waddle or Wabble and the Jerk.
Some of these dances are named with localities. What we call the Frug is often
called the Surf, Big Bea and Thunderbird, with the Swim being born out of
it. What we call the Watusi is also known as Wabble and Waddle. The Monkey,
Dog, Bump and Jerk fall roughly into the same category.
Hungary seems to take credit as the birthplace of
the Galop. It was an old time dance, often introduced at the Country dances
or following a Volte and Contra Danse as a contrast to their slow and somewhat
monotonous steps. In 2/4 time, it was a springy step with a glissade and a
Argentine dance performed by two couples. In rhythm
it resembles a very fast Waltz in steady quarter notes. A very popular form
is the Gato con Pelaciones – that is Gato with stories. The stories are the
diversified content; amorous, philosophical or political.
This dance comes from France. During the 16th
Century it was customary for the leading couple to kiss each other and everyone
else in the room at the end of their special “Shine”. It finally became a
stage dance. Although it has a long and varied history it is still charming
and has been used by modern composers for chamber music.
In this dance the woman threw and wrapped
herself around her partner in what at that time 1900-1910 must have been most
shocking. A disappointingly simple ragtime dance followed its daring overture.
This dance was originally a Andalusian dance derived
from Sevillanos. This dance which was played in 3/4 or 6/8 time was a Cuban
Country dance as well, performed in Conga rhythm to the music marked Son Guajira.
In ballroom terminology a Rumba is slow to medium tempo, or danced as a very
slow Cha-Cha, with subtle body movements.
This lively Cuban song and dance of Spanish origin
is performed in 2/4 time and danced by the more expert and agile dancers only,
as its speed is rather imposing. a) An old Spanish dance in two sections.
One is lively triple and the other in double. It originally was played in
4/4 time. b) A modern Rumba usually played very fast.
Haitian music stems directly from African
rhythms. Divested of mysticisms, its traditions and beliefs from the folkloric
basis from which the Haitian Merengue derived. It is simple and smooth in
its slow version and can be colorful and exciting in its faster forms.
The Mexican Haupango is ultimately traced to
the Spanish Son, but its rhythm is definitely of the New World. The Haupango
combines 2/4 time with 3/4 time and 6/8 time, creating cross rhythms of great
complexity. It makes a most interesting lively dance.
This dance is reputed to have developed
in Boston. Apparently, the dance masters who were responsible for the evening’s
program at society functions gained favor with their socialite clients by
imposing as much restraint as possible on the dances and creating an obviously
reserved interpretation. The Waltz, in particular, became a target of this
type of constraint and what was considered to be a flamboyant expression,
at that time, induced by the blatant rotation of the dance was effectively
curbed by taking a step and hesitating for two beats before proceeding with
a conventional Waltz figure or another hesitation. The dance was introduced
to New York society by Vernon Castle between 1911 and 1914. It was later standardized
by Arthur Murray ® who taught it as a fundamental social dance for several decades
giving some of the figures such names as the Yale, the Biltmore and the Arthur Murray ® Turn.
Originally a sacred dance of Hawaii supposedly created
by the younger volcano Kala to please his sister Pele. In due time its varied
interpretation also served to please the visiting sailors which did not please
the missionaries who promptly banned it. Despite this blight, it has revived
and is now more popular than ever. It is in 4/4 meter, interprets stories
by the use of arms, hands and facial expression. The basic step is a chasse’
during which the hips undulate.
HUSTLE OR SWING HUSTLE:
A number if similar style disco
dances which had its beginning in the mid-70′s and enjoys some continuing
popularity as a swing style today. The record “Do The Hustle” was followed
by the movie “Saturday Night Fever.” The movie portrayal of partner dancing
by John Travolta to the popular beat of top selling music from the Bee Gees
and the introduction to America of the Discotheque setting, popular for some
years in Europe, took America by storm. Flashing lights, mirrors everywhere,
loud throbbing beat, and high fashion were in. Large numbers of popular Discos
sprang up in every city and everyone was waiting in line to dance.
The Ibo rhythm belongs to the faster Haitian Merengue
group of dancers. It is colorful, native in style and can be classified as
“Caribbean dancing.” A pronounced movement of hips and turning of the head
The Jarabes are typical Mexican Folk dances. Usually
done by a couple, it depicts a flirtation and conquest. It is well known in
America by its other name, “The Mexican Hat Dance.” The Mexican Jarabe is
a descendant of the Spanish Zapateado, and its rhythm resembles that of a
Mazurka. It is in 3/4 time.
Folk dance of Yucatan, Mexico. It is possibly closer
to the melo-rhythmic foundation of the ancient Mexican songs than any other
native air. The verses of the Jarana are often in the Mayan language. The
word Jarana means merry chatter. It is exciting in its rhythm based on a combination
of 6/8 and 3/4 time. As an exhibition ballroom dance it can be placed alongside
La Raspa and La Bamba, its cousins.
: A toned down version of a Lindy Hop which is
faster and happier than the American Rock ‘n’ Roll or Swing.
International competitive Swing dance with elements
of the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug. Characterized by uptempo single time music
danced with triple steps done primarily on the toes with very lively movement.
Native folk dance Aragon, Spain. Performed usually
by one or more couples and consisting of hoppy steps in 3/4 time.
Afro-Brazilian dances of the Mestiso Indians.
La Cueca is a Chilian dance written in 6/8 time
with the accompaniment in 3/4 time. Originally it was danced with handkerchiefs
only, but during recent years it has enjoyed popularity on the ballroom floor.
A Mexican dance from Vera Cruz, which reminds
us of our own square dancing except that it has a peculiar hopping step of
its own. It has enjoyed a well merited popularity for a number of years as
a fun dance.
Americanized version of traditional Varsouvienne
which was originally from Warsaw. Has established but varying versions in
different parts of the country. Patterns differ from, yet show close kinship
to, Varsouvienne of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Popular among Western cowboys
and South Western sections where it is known as the “Little Foot.” Made popular
as a ballroom dance by Arthur Murray ® in 1940. It is also known as the Varsovien.
This latest dance crazy has its roots from the
Northeast Coast of Brazil. The exciting look of this dance on European television
took the Continent by storm in the late 80′s. Introduced to the U.S. by Arthur Murray ® personnel, its lighthearted Brazilian/Caribbean beat combines the flavor
of the Samba with the sultry passion of the Rumba.
The Lambeth Walk is a walking dance done
in a jaunty, strutting fashion. It was originally an old English step performed
in the Limehouse district of London and danced to the song “Doing the Lambeth
Walk.” This dance was introduced into the United States about 1937 by Arthur Murray ®.
The quadrille of the Lancers was a set dance or
single dance invented by a dancing master in Paris about 1836. England took
it up and it was fashionable for a number of years in polite society there.
History has us believe this dance to be a product
of Vienna and more than one hundred years old. It had a lusty Waltz flavor
but was not a closed ballroom dance but rather belonged to the Country dance
group. It is said by some authorities that with the passage of time the Landler
became the basis for our modern Waltz.
LATIN AMERICAN DANCES:
These are essentially divided into
two categories: 1) The authentic, traditional dances that fall lately into
the domain of the folkloric, many of these dances vary from region-to-region,
and generally involve a rhythmic character as opposed to a set of choreographic
distinctions. 2) The standardized expression of popular Latin dances embraced
by cultures other than Hispanic, such as the Cha-Cha, Samba, Rumba, Bolero,
Mambo and Paso Doble. These dances are danced both on a social and competitive
level. The choreography of Latin America dances varies greatly according to
region and time. However, it is possible to indicate the principal types of
choreographic figures described in such terms as amorous dances, in which
the partners hold each other closely, handkerchief dances, in which the partners
dancing apart from each other wave handkerchiefs, and so on. Ten principal
may thus be established: they are: 1. Amorous dances such as Rumba, Merengue,
Tango, and Milonga. 2. Handkerchief dances, such as Bailecito, Marinera, Sanjuanito
and Zamacueca. 3. Finger snapping dances: Gato, Chacarera, Jarana. 4. Street
dances: Choros, Guajira, Guaracha. 5. Pursuit dances: Fimeza, Escondido, Bambuco,
Jarabe. 6. Square dances: Perican, Punto, Mejorana. 7. Rustic dances: Ranchera,
Pasillo, Joropo. 8. Ritual dances: Jongo, Macumba. 9. Carnival dances: Samba,
Conga. 10. Topical ballads: Corrido, Zandunga, Calypso.
Named by Ray Bolger, after Colonel
Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic. This Swing had as much “getting into
the air” as possible. However, the violently acrobatic style used for exhibitions
is not the same as the quietly rhythmic Lindy enjoyed by good dancers on the
ballroom floor. The rhythmic patterns takes place over two measures of music.
The more acrobatic versions were limited to ballrooms of which the most famous
was the New York’s Savoy Harlem. NOTE: At one time the Jitterbug included
the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shag and Lindy Hop. It has now been consolidated
into Lindy Hop in Eastern U.S. and on the West Coast the West Coast Swing.
An African Brazilian ritual and like dances belonging
The fusion of Swing and Cuban music produced this
fascinating rhythm and in turn created a new sensational dance. The Mambo
could not have been conceived earlier since up until that time Cuba and the
American Jazz were still not wedded. The Victor records of Anselmo Sacaras
entitled “Mambo” in 1944 were probably the beginning and since then other
Latin American bandleaders such as Tito Rodriguez, Pupi Campo, Tito Puente,
Perez Prado, Machito and Xavier Cugat have achieved styling of their own and
furthered the Mambo craze. The Mambo was originally played as any Rumba with
a riff ending. It may be described as a riff or a Rumba with emphasis on the
fourth beat 4/4′ time. Originally played by some musicians in 2/4 time with
a break or emphasis on 2 and 4. Native Cubans or dancers, without any training
would break on any beat. MARCHA: Latin American counterpart of our One-Step.
Popular ballroom dance of the island
of St. Lucia and Martinique. It is characterized by the rocking back and forth
of the hips while the girl throws her arms around her partner’s neck. His
arms loosely clasp her about the waist. The steps have been incorporated in
both the Haitian Merengue and Calypso.
A Brazilian dance first introduced in Paris in
1912. It is in 2/4 time of rapid tempo with a slight syncopation. In this
dance strict attention must be paid to the carriage of the head and the posturing
of the arms.
The Mazurka is a Polish dance. In Russia the Polonaise
opened the ball, and the Mazurka ended it. In the Mazurkathe couples follow
the leader in circular formation around the room. Sometimes the woman kneels
down while her partner executes a chasse around her, and then this figure
The most popular native dance of Jamaica which resembles
a Rumba played in slow tempo.
The Milonga is a Spanish dance first originated
in Andalusia. As the fascinating music traveled the world it assumed various
aspects. In Buenos Aires the Gauchos danced it in what is called a closed
position, in the lower class cafes. Here their interpretation of it emerged
into what today is our Tango. The Milonga enjoyed a popular resurgence some
years ago through the Juan Carlos Copes group who performed it the world over.
It was a carefree and lively dance until presented
by the French court in 1650. There it developed into a slow and stately dance,
elegant in its simplicity. It consists of a salute to the partner, a high
step and a balance, and affords numerous opportunities for an exchange of
courtly gestures, bows and curtsies.
A form of dance as developed by Martha Graham,
Haya Holm, Doris Humphyre, Charles Weidman and others. It expresses complex
emotions and abstract ideas.
Among the Brazilian dances there is the Modinha
which is the diminutive of Moda (Mode or Style) and is directly derived from
the Portuguese songs and dances of that name. The early Modinhas were greatly
influenced by Italian music. The present day Modinhas are sentimental in mood
and similar to the Cuban Boleros.
A dance that consisted entirely of chasses without
any change in rhythm. It was danced to the popular music of the period encompassing
World War I.
The Quadrille is a “Set” dance. It consists
of a series of dance figures, the most frequently used is called the “Flirtation”
figure, in which the man dances with each woman in turn.
The English version of the Fast Fox-Trot, which
has quick hopping steps set in with the smoother gliding figures. It is very
popular in Europe as a competition dance. It ranks among the “Big Five,” the
other three being the Slow Fox-Trot, the Waltz, the Tango and the Viennese
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL:
A popular form of the Swing or Lindy Hop.
Began as a dance done mostly by teenagers who were fans of artists like Elvis
Presley and the Beatles.
Country dances in America became Barn dances,
Square dances, and Round dances. These all have figures in common and require
The Rumba was originally a marriage dance. Many
of its movements and actions which seem to have an erotic meaning are merely
depictions of simple farm tasks. The shoeing of the mare, the climbing of
a rope, the courtship of the rooster and the hen, etc. It was done for amusement
on the farms by the black population of Cuba. However, it became a popular
ballroom dance and was introduced in the United States about 1933. It was
the Americanized version for 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 come to
be known as “Cuban Motion.”
This is a favored name for a type of Latin music
which, for the most part, has its roots in Cuban culture and is enhanced by
jazz textures. The word, Salsa, means sauce denoting a “hot” flavor and is
best distinguished from other Latin music styles by defining it as the New
York sound developed by Puerto Rican musicians in New York. The dance structure
is largely associated with mambo type patterns and has a particular feeling
that is associated mainly with the Clave and the Montuno.
This Brazilian dance was first introduced in 1917
but was finally adopted by Brazilian society in 1930 as a ballroom dance.
It is sometimes referred to as a Samba, Carioca, a Baion or a Batucado. The
difference is mostly in the tempo played since the steps in all three dance
are very similar. The style is to bounce steadily and smoothly in 2/4 meter.
They say that the Samba was introduced in the United States in 1939 by the
late Carmen Miranda.
One of the most ancient court dances of the
16th century. It was a stately affair during which couples paraded forwarded
for four steps and then back of four steps in an endless variety of patterns
according to the number of couples taking part.
A dance similar to the Polka. It is characterized
by the clapping of hands after having taken three hopping steps. It is written
in 4/4 time.
A Spanish folk dance consisting of seven “Coplas.”
Each Copla is a little dance in itself divided into three parts and consisting
of twelve measures of music. Each part begins with an “Entrada” and ends with
a “Pasada”. It is performed by couples and furnished an excellent foundation
for all forms of Spanish dance.
Not to be confused with the Carolina Shag which is
a slow laid back type of Swing, became popular in the late 30′s along with
the Jitterbug and Lindy Hop. The dance was done to uptempo Swing or Foxtrot
music and was instantly recognizable by the flicking of the feet backwards
with a pronounced hopping action.
It started as an African American dance of the
late 1880′s. It is a shaking of the shoulders and a whole body. First recreated
by Gilda Gray.
A lazy shuffling “soft shoe” step produced by
the dancers at the Old Cotton Club in Harlem.
A Cuban dance similar to the Bolero except that it
is wilder in rhythmic accent and more violent in step pattern. It is the Son
which first served as a basis for the Mambo which in turn became the triple
Mambo, now known as Cha-Cha. This slow rhythmic dance was originally in 2/4
time. It became Americanized and is usually played in 4/4 time.
A smoothly danced waltz in open position
using the arm movements of the classic Spanish dance.
Danced during Colonial days and now a part
of our Barn Dances which include such names as Reels, Arkansas Traveler, Round
It is a figure in which the hands are clasped in
front of the body at knee level with the body poised forward from the waist
and the dancer moving sideways with the arms swinging in opposition. It was
popularized by Vaudeville Entertainers and used in many types of routines
eventually achieving most of its fame when it was incorporated into tap routines
at the Cotton Club in Harlem in the 30′s.
An ever popular blend of several African American
dances, which include Lindy and Ragtime Jazz and Blues, as well as all the
other dance music to accompanying dances of the past ninety years. Today it
generally refers to the ballroom and night club version which is based on
two slow and two quick counts or the slow and two quick counts of rhythm dances.
One of the three chief English dances of Medieval
times. It was a ritualistic and ceremonial drama danced by men with swords
and elaborate costumes while parading through the streets. It depicted the
death of the old year, of Winter, and of scarcity. It heralded in the New
Year, with hope of Spring and plenty. To symbolize the death of Winter, someone
must always “die” and be brought to life again as a portrayal of death and
Continental/English – See INTERNATIONAL TANGO There
are essentially three types of Tango – Argentine, American and International
Style. Argentine Tango: (arrabalero) A dance created by the Gauchos in Buenos
Aires. It was actually an attempt on their part to imitate the Spanish dance
except that they danced it in a closed ballroom position. The Tango caused
a sensation and was soon to be seen the world over in a more subdued version.
American Tango: Unlike the Argentine Tango, in which the dancer interprets
the music spontaneously without any predetermined slows or quicks, the American
Tango features a structure which is correlated to the musical phrasing. The
dance is executed both in closed position and in various types of extravagant
dance relationships which incorporate a particular freedom of expression that
is not present in the International style. International Tango: This is a
highly disciplined and distinctively structured form of the Tango which is
accepted worldwide as the format for dancesport events. The dancers remain
in traditional closed position throughout and expresses both legato and staccato
aspects of the type of music appropriate to this style.
EVOLUTION OF THE TANGO:
The history of the Tango can be
traced surprisingly enough to a country dance of 17th Century England. The
English country dance became the CONTREDANSE in France, and this in turn was
called the CONTRADANZA in Spain or later simply DANZA. When imported by the
Spaniards into Cuba, it became the DANZAHABANERA. During the Spanish American
War, a popular dance called the Habanera del Cafe appeared which was the prototype
of the Tango. The whole genealogy is presented in the following chronological
table: Country Dance England-1650; Contredanse France-1700; Contradanza Spain-1750;
Danza Spain-1800; Danza Habanera Cuba-1825; Habaner-1850; Habanera del Cafe-1900;
Italian folks dance. Sometimes a single dancer
gets up and spins alone until a partner joins in. Sometimes several couples
stand up together, like a country dance set, although pairs dance individually.
Girls use tambourines.
An African American form of shuffling along while
shaking the index finger of the fight hand above the head. Popular in 1937.
The Turkey Trot was a dance done to fast
ragtime music popular in the decade from 1900 to 1910 such as Scott Joplin’s
Maple Leaf Rag, etc. The basic step consisted of four hopping steps sideways
first on one leg, then the other. It achieved popularity chiefly as a result
of its being denounced by the Vatican. The dance was embellished with scissor-like
flicks of the feet and fast trotting actions with abrupt stops.
This dance was written by an African American musician
in Georgia in 1958. He and his band members made up some twisting movements
for the musicians to do while playing the music. Then in 1960, Chubby Checker
made his first twist record, and made the Twist famous in Philadelphia. Twist
came to New York via Philadelphia and New Jersey and then spread throughout
The Two-Step is a simple dance, more or less
double quick march with a skip in each step done as rapidly as a couple can
With such wonderful composers as Johann
Strauss and others, the Waltz became more and more refined. The steps became
smaller with the turns smoother and more compact. Adding the graceful lilt
of the flowing skirts we have today’s Viennese Waltz.
One of the more popular of the Colonial
The Volte was like the Landler, a forerunner of
the Waltz. It was brought to the French court by Catherine de Medici. In it
the man turns his partner around several times and then helps her to take
a high spring into the air.
The real origin of the Waltz is rather obscure,
but a dance of turns and glides, leaping and stomping appeared in various
parts of Europe at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century.
In Italy it was the Volta, France has its Volte, Germany the Weller and Austria
had its Landler. These were round dances but at the end of the dance itself
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 more to a gliding motion and that is why it is
considered the forerunner of the Waltz. The Waltz can be traced back as far
as 400+ years. The Waltz regained its real popularity in the 20th century.
The Waltz blossomed out as the Hesitation Waltz in 1913. Until the development
of the hesitation, couples had waltzed in one direction until dizzy and then
reversed until ready to drop. The Waltz had degenerated into an endurance
contest. The Hesitation resulted in the Waltz it is done today. The slow Waltz
was once known as the Boston Waltz. Today the slow Waltz is the American Waltz,
English Waltz or just Waltz, and the faster is the Viennese Waltz.
WEST COAST SWING:
A stylized Swing dance popular west of
the Mississippi from Kansas to California. Danced in a slot to medium to slow
Swing or Disco music and characterized by slot movements, taps and shuffles,
coaster steps, and push and pull action of the dancers.
(CHAN GO) A dance of the Macumba ritual in Brazil.
It is in honor of the jungle god Xango.
(CHI TOL LES) The Mayan Warriors dance of Mexico.
YAQUI INDIAN DANCES:
Dances of the Indians of Sonora, Mexico,
among which El Venado is the most popular. It depicts the fascination of a
young deer for a campfire. He finally loses his life by jumping into it.
Ritual dance of the Indians of the Amazon basin
said to protect the young male dancers against feminine seduction. The rites
of Yurupari are held by the Indians in the jungles of Brazil. The African
Brazilians practice their fetishistic ritual of the macumba from which stem
many Brazilian dance patterns. The Spanish and Portuguese contribute the rituals
of their Christian religion and all three now have enriched the dances we
learn and enjoy in the ballroom.
The Zambra has a definitely Moorish origin. Prizes
were given to the youth who could dance the Best Zambra with his Moorish maiden
during the Caliphate of Cordoba. Today it is the dance of the Gitano women
The songs and dances in Waltz time of Southern
Mexico. The lyrics tell a story and more often funny situations between persons
are rhymed and danced.
The Spanish and Flamenco dances of Spain in
which rhythmic patterns are made with the heel and ball of Filigrano. Also
a man’s dance which consists purely of intricate stomping.