Latin/BallroomTeacher: Aliaksandra Davydava
Back in the far away 50’s of the 20th century there was a dance phenomenon called mambo. Such musical superstars as Tito Puente were all the rage. Dance sensations like Cuban Pete were becoming household names… Exciting music, sensual partnering techniques and sexy hip movements took America by storm. Debates over styles were all around, but one thing that was never compromised was the “clave” (klave) – the beat kept by an instrument by the same name in all of recognizable latin music. But that was so long ago… Then came the 90’s. Movement of the mambo, as well as it’s basic action had a revival, but at a faster and even more frantic pace. It was hot! hot! hot!!!! In fact it became known as Salsa – an easy sell. And it’s a wonderful dance that is still as fresh and popular today as when it first started.
Merengue is sometimes called the national dance of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic shares the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with its neighbour Haiti. Merengue is essentially an easy and fun dance to learn, which makes it a popular social dance. The basic Merengue step is taking small steps to the side with the partners holding each other in closed dance position. The closed dance position is danced in open embrace or if the couple so desire in close embrace. The side step basic is called paso de la empalizada or stick-fence step.
Bachata is an intimate, romantic, and sensual style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. The basics to the dance are three-steps with a Cuban hip motion, followed by a tap which can include a hip movement also on the 4th beat. It is danced widely all over the world, and there exist variety of styles.
Originally from Cuba, 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. Mambo music was invented during the 1930s by Arsenio Rodríguez, developed in Havana by Cachao and made popular by Dámaso Pérez Prado and Benny Moré. 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 is a flirtacious and sensual dance. 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.
Zouk-Lambada (also called Lambada-Zouk or Brazilian Zouk)
Zouk-Lambada (also called Lambada-Zouk or Brazilian Zouk) is a group of closely related dance styles based on or evolved from the lambada dance style and is typically danced to zouk music or other music containing the zouk beat. The name Brazilian Zouk is used to distinguish the dance from the Caribbean Zouk dance style, which is historically related to, but very different from the Lambada dance style. In January 2013, what could be considered the first feature documentary about Brazilian (Lamba) Zouk: ‘Dance of Love’, won the Special Jury Award at the California Film Awards Festival. The movie portrays four people dedicating their lives to the dance, namely Gilson Damasco, Cláudio Gomes, Shannon Hunzicker and Kwok One. Along with other notable instructors Kwok One once held an amazing workshop with our students at VK Dance. Sensual, passionate, fluid, Zouk is the dance of the twenty-first century.
The tango is a partner dance that originated in the 1890s along the Río de la Plata, the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay, and soon spread to the rest of the world. Early tango was known as tango criollo (Creole tango). The highly seductive, dramatically passionate moves of the Tango give it drama and power. Today, there are many forms of tango extant. Popularly and among tango dancing circles, the authentic tango is considered to be the one closest to the form originally danced in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. The sensual moves of the Tango make it a very popular dance.
The waltz most often refers to a dance, usually performed in 3/4 time, that features three steps per measure, has partners in a closed stance holding onto each other, and has beautiful turns and swirls. It is considered in present day as an elegant dance that evokes an old-fashioned past. This is much in contrast to the way the dance was first perceived when it was introduced in Vienna, Austria in the seventeenth century. There are several forms of waltz today, that are judged separately in ballroom dance competitions. Viennese Waltzes are quick dances, with most beats corresponding to steps taken by dancers. Slow waltzes, now simply called waltzes in most international dancing competitions are smooth, slower dances, with many more hesitation steps. Elegant and nearly universal, the waltz should be one of the first ballroom dances you learn. It’s perfect for a wedding dance, and will help you to make an impression in any social setting.
This thrilling dance dates back to the 1700’s in Europe. It was a dance first popular with the common folk and then with the upper classes. Waltz began to appear on the operatic stages of Vienna in 1787. As the popularity of the Waltz increased in Vienna, so did its tempo. This new version of Waltz became known as Viennese Waltz. Viennese Waltz is characterized by its speed - twice as fast as Waltz, as well as a rise and fall and sway ,less than Waltz. With its elegance and turns, Viennese Waltz has an air of magic about it.
The foxtrot is a smooth, progressive dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor. It is danced to big band (usually vocal) musicMany believe it came from Vaudeville Actor Henry Fox in the summer of 1914. While appearing in New York shows with Yansci Dolly of the famous Dolly Sisters in the act of Hammerstein’s, Henry involved trotting steps to ragtime music that members of the audience would then go away and imitate, reffering to the dance as “Fox’s Trot.” . The dance is similar in its look to waltz, although the rhythm is in a 4 4 time signature instead of 3 4. America’s favorite dance is written in 4/4, and can be danced to most music types, whether slow or fast. If you can walk, you can dance the Fox Trot!
The quickstep is a light-hearted member of the standard ballroom dances. The movement of the dance is fast and powerfully flowing and sprinkled with syncopations. The upbeat melodies that quickstep is danced to make it suitable for both formal and informal events. Quickstep was developed in the twenties in New York and was first danced by Caribbean and African dancers. Its origins are in combination of slow foxtrot combined with the Charleston, a dance which was one of the precursors to what today is called swing dancing.
Most Disco dances have strong roots in Swing. The Hustle is believed to have originated in New York in 1970. It went through many incarnations in the seventies, with line dances for groups of people, solo movements that came and went, and partnership dances. These partnership dances included The Basic Hustle, Latin, Spanish and Tango Hustle (thankfully gone for good), and the most popular Street, Three-Count or Swing Hustle that originated in California as the street Hustle by skaters in Venice and Malibu. John Travolta and “Saturday Night Fever” gave Hustle its place in American pop culture. Hustle is danced to the contemporary pop, Hip Hop, or “House” dance music of the last 20 years. Most People dance New York style or Swing Hustle. It is a fast, smooth dance which is all about hands. The lady spins almost continuously, while her partner leads her back and forth in a “slotted” linear formation.
Argentine Tango is a partner dance that developed over the last century in Argentina's capital city, Buenos Aires. It is different from the Tango in International and American ballroom dancing. Argentine Tango is an interpretive, improvisational social dance that allows the dancers to develop a deep connection between themselves, the music, and the environment in which they are dancing.