Hector Lavoe is said to be one of the creators of Salsa, a fusion of Cuban, Puerto Rican and American styles of Latin which he brought to New York in the late 1960s. It has roots in Cuban culture, and the heavily inspired jazz of that decade. It is characterized by a complicated rhythm, small steps, Cuban motion, and a compact hold. Salsa is made up of an 8-beat pattern, with patterns using 3 steps during each 4 beats. It is characterized by a tap or kick used to mark time on the 4th beat. 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. Sassy, sexy, and fun….Salsa is sure to please!
This national dance of the Dominican Republic was created in the mid-1950s. It is made up of small compact steps and 1-2 march-like rhythm. The Merengue is known for its liveliness, with a step on every beat, knee action, and ever present Cuban motion. It is a spot dance, so tight crowded floors are perfect!
“Do the Hustle” as they say or said in the 1970s! John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever brought acclaim to this disco dance during a time when flashing lights, mirrors everywhere, loud throbbing music, and platform shoes were the fashion! The Hustle is a high-speed, energetic dance characterized by its continual turns. The lady seems to always be spinning, as the man stays coolly in place sending her in and out.
The Swing is a dance that is famous for its “happy go lucky” energy and flow. It incorporates different styles and speeds of music while creating movement through dynamic swing outs, break always and shine steps! Swing is danced with two slow steps followed by a quick rock step.
What was originally known as the Charleston has developed over the years into the Lindy, the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop and the Jive. The Swing originated and thrived in the mid 1930’s thanks to the like likes of Benny Goodman and his fellow swing bands. It is a dance that when mastered you will find to be exciting, fast paced, and fun to learn and practice.
East Coast Swing
The Rumba is often referred to as ‘the dance of love’, because of the intensity of the movements and emotion. It was introduced in the United States about 1933, but stemmed from the Spanish melodies of the Cuban Son, and African rhythms of the Danzon. The Rumba began the Cuban and Latin American dance crazes that we see today. Americanized Rumba was the basis for the Mambo and Cha Cha.
The movement, called ‘Cuban Motion’ is produced through a transfer of body weight and not from direct movement of the hips. It is danced through the use of body language which is used to express emotion. The Cuban Motion is essential in most Latin dances making it a prerequisite for good Latin Dancing.
The mid-tempo Cha-Cha is a spin-off of the Rumba and the Mambo. Cha Cha or ‘triple mambo’ as it was known in the less inhibited night clubs and dance halls, underwent several changes to get to its final completion. The name cam from the scraping and shuffling sounds during the triple step action of cha cha cha.
With its differing slow and quick steps, this sensual, energetic dance is extraordinarily popular with old and young alike. The slow and staccato tempo makes it easy for dancers of all levels to inject their own personality into the steps and figures. It’s syncopated steps and varying open figures, you and your partner will feel the Cha Cha’s infectious and unique charm.
A Cuban bandleader named Perez Prado is credited with starting the Mambo dance craze in the mid-1950s. The Mambo, with its fusion of Swing and Cuban music, is essentially a Rumba with a break on 2 and 4 in 4/4 time. It is danced in a closed position, but does include breakaway steps much like the other Latin dances.
Back in the good old days of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, the East Coast Swing originated as a simplified 6-count triple step dance. The East Coast Swing dance pattern moves smoothly either forward/back or side to side while circling freely around the floor with a very playful, effervescent nature. The basic step is triple step, triple step, rock step.
The Jive is an international competitive Swing dance with elements of the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug. It is characterized by up-tempo single time music danced with triple steps which are done predominantly on the toes with very little movement.
Although introduced in 1917, it was only adopted by Brazilian society in 1930 as a ballroom dance. The jovial Samba was introduced in the United States in 1939 by the late Carmen Miranda.
It is sometimes referred to as a Samba, Carioca, a Baion or a Batucado, differing only in tempos as the dances are very similar. The style is to bounce steadily and smoothly in 2/4 meter while flexing and straightening the knees as weight is transferred from the ball to the flat of the foot.
The West Coast Swing originated from the Savoy Style Lindy dance. This dance soon became popular in California nightclubs during the 1930s and 1940s thanks to Dean Collins, a famous movie dancer and choreographer who is said to have brought the dance to Hollywood.
The official state dance of California, it incorporates slot movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and push and pull action of the dancers. It is known for its “dancing in a slot” appearance where the man dances in place while the woman travels back and forth giving the dance a very “groovy” sinuous feel.
West Coast Swing
The Bolero, originating in Spain, is danced to a very slow Rumba rhythm. The Bolero has a very romantic and silky feel to it, with its slip pivot and body rise which is danced to dreamy music usually accompanied by vocals in 4/4 time. In Bolero you become one with your partner with slow, sweeping motions which are combined with subtle percussion effects, and usually implemented with Conga or Bongos.