Types of Dance
The five dances used in International Ballroom competitions
Waltz – also known as Slow or English Waltz from the meaning to “roll or revolve”. Waltz is a smooth and graceful swing dance characterised by rise and fall and sway as the dancers progress around the floor. Danced to music in 3/4 time.
Quickstep – Another swing dance – this one is lively, quick and light hearted. Danced to a 4/4 rhythm at 50 bars per minute. Dancers progress around the floor moving lightly on their feet with syncopations, chasses and snippets of Charleston
Foxtrot – Danced to the same rhythm as Quickstep at a slower 30 bars per minute. With smooth and long gliding movement across the floor and tight turns enhanced by extensive use of heel turns the Foxtrot is often considered to be the most challenging of the Ballroom dances to execute well.
Tango – Sharp, stylish and staccato. The Tango has a more dramatic attitude than the swing dances, with a more compact poise and hold, extensive use of the edges of the feet and no rise and fall. Danced to 2/4 time music – stalk across the floor with your best Tango face on!
Viennese Waltz – Smooth, continuous and flowing – a rotary dance progressing around the floor as the dancers turn clockwise (“natural”) and then counter clockwise (“reverse”) with change steps to switch between the two. Swirl around the ballroom at 60 bars per minute in 3/4 (or 6/8) time.
The five dances used in International Latin competitions
Rumba – The slowest of the Latin dances and considered by many to be the sexiest. Sensuous and romantic, Rumba is a body dance with hip actions produced by controlled transfer of weight from one foot to the other and fluid rhythmic movements which continue through to the arms.
Samba – Lively and exciting – a real party feeling. The modern Latin American dance has elements of Brazilian Samba but considerable differences from the original carnival dance. Characterised by a bounce action (the Samba double bounce) and pelvic action – its a great workout!
Paso Doble – Intense and dramatic, this dance tells the story of the bullfighting arena (and no the lady is NOT the bull!) Originally from Spain and developed and danced socially in France this dance has a distinct poise and features stylish shaping and strong positive marching steps – stomp across the floor with your best Paso face on!
Cha Cha Cha – Another party dance – cheeky lively and flirtatious. Similar actions to the Rumba but with a faster tempo and lots of chasses and lock steps echoing the cha-cha-cha name in the rhythm of the dance.
Jive – Mainly characterised by the Jive rock step and chasses this dance has its roots in Lindyhop, Jitterbug, Blues, Swing dancing and Rock ‘n’ Roll. It’s energetic and animated with added flicks & kicks. There are several different styles of Jive so it can also be adapted to suit music with different tempos and those of us who prefer/need to start with a more gentle pace.
Did you know the Argentine Tango is danced to three different rhythms?
It is a progressive dance – the man dances around the floor, the lady dances around the man.
The different styles can all be danced in close or open embrace.
Contrary to popular belief, Argentine Tango need not be difficult to learn. Like all partnership dances we begin with the basic steps and then develop the principles of leading and following.
Argentine Tango – Originally known as “The dance that stops”. Stylish, sophisticated and sensual – danced with variable timing and pauses. Characterised by walking steps, ochos, turning figures (giros) and sometimes embellished with flicks (voleos/boleos) or hooks (ganchos).
Milonga – A lively and playful style. The music and movement is faster and pauses are less common than in Argentine Tango. The dance includes rhythmic “walking” with steps on every beat of the music and use of traspiés which are three steps to two beats of music.
Tango Vals – Argentine Tango steps danced to music with a “Viennese Waltz” timing. Lilting, joyful and light with soft, fluid circular movements.
Or “Old Time” dances – in styles dating back as far as the 17th century including the Old Time Waltz, Gavottes, Two Steps, Tangos and Saunters.
West Coast Swing
A partner dance with roots in Lindy Hop. A smooth “slot” dance which means that the steps are danced along an imaginary slot on the dance floor.
Fun social jazz dance popularised in the 1920’s. Characterised by toes-in, heels-out swivelling steps. Can be danced solo or with a partner.
A club style Latin partnership dance with an understated and relaxed Cuban hip motion giving the dance an easy casual and sexy appearance.
Texas Two Step
A country/western partner dance progressing around the room with a quick quick slow slow rhythm pattern
Smooth dances are similar to the standard Ballroom dances – flowing and graceful is still the aim but more open and separated figures are included.