Dance Styles

From the Tango to Ballroom Dancing

Here’s a list of all of the styles we teach with a brief history of American Style, or Ballroom Dancing, and International Latin styles.

  • Ballroom Dancing or American Style Social Dance lessons in American Smooth include:
    Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango
  • Latin Dancing or American Style Social Dance lessons in American Rhythm include:Salsa, Cha Cha, Rumba, Mambo, Merengue, Swing, Bachata, Hustle, and Bolero
  • International Latin Styles include: Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, Jive and Paso Doble
  • International Standard (smooth): Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango and Quickstep
  • Nightclub – Freestyle, Disco, Hustle, or Slow Dancing
  • Country Western and Two Step
  • Argentine Tango and Tango
  • “Now and Forever” Wedding Program

American Style “Smooth” or Ballroom Dancing

American Style or Ballroom dances include: the Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango.

The Waltz – Considered the mother of present day dances, the Waltz began in southern Germany in the seventeenth century. The popularity of the Waltz grew with the music of Johann Strauss and eventually blossomed in the 20th century. It is the basis for many dances and is popular today all over the word.

Viennese Waltz – The Waltz developed in Central Europe from the Austrian dance known as The Landler. The fast whirling of partners held as if in an embrace shocked polite society. The music of Johann Strauss and the famous ballrooms of Vienna popularized the faster version known as the Viennese Waltz.

Foxtrot – In 1913, Harry Fox a vaudeville comedian, introduced a trot to a ragtime song in the 1913 Ziegfeld Follies that pushed other trots into the background. It became America’s most popular dance and remains so to this day as the standard of social dances.

Tango – The Tango began in the West Indies and found its way to Argentina where it was stylized by the Gauchos. It became the rage in 1921 after the silent screen star Rudolph Valentino brought this romantic dance to millions in “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse”. The Tango is considered the “dancer’s dance” and becomes a favorite of all who learn it.

American Style Rhythm Dances

International Latin dances include: the Salsa, Tango, Lindy Swing, Quickstep, Mambo, Bolero,Cha Cha, Rumba, Hustle, Merengue, Samba and Bachata.

Salsa –  Salsa is the most popular of Latin street dances. With Cuban and Puerto Rican roots Salsa evolved in New York in the 1960s and has grown into one of the most popular forms of social dancing today.

Argentine Tango – The tango is one of the most beautiful of all the dances. A striking difference between Argentine tango and ballroom tango is in the shape and feel of the embrace. Ballroom technique dictates that partners arch their upper bodies away from each other, while maintaining contact at the hip, in an offset frame.

In Argentine tango, it is nearly the opposite: the dancers’ chests are closer to each other than are their hips, and often there is contact at about the level of the chest (the contact point differing, depending on the height of the leader and the closeness of the embrace).

Swing – The Lindy (Swing) picked up where the Charleston left off. It had “swing-outs”, “break-aways” and “shine steps”. With the birth of “Swing” music in the mid 1930’s, the Lindy climbed the social ladder. In August of 1935, at the Palomar Ballroom, bandleader Benny Goodman played a Fletcher Henderson arrangement of “Stompin’ at the Savoy”. The rest, as they say, is history. The dance crave swept the nation as the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop or the Swing.

Mambo – In the 1940’s Americans became fascinated by Latin American rhythms. The original Mambo music, “El Guardia Con El Tolete”, had its beginning in 1944 as a Rumba with a riff improvisation. The Mambo combined American Jazz with the Afro-Cuban beat. Arthur Murray Studios became  famous for turning out some of the best Mambo dancers of the era. As the parent of Cha Cha and Salsa, the Mambo is an exciting challenge for all dancers.

Bolero – The romantic Bolero is the slowest of the Latin dances. It combines controlled movement with dramatic expression of the music. The Bolero has the same Afro-Cuban roots as the Rumba and is thought to have originated from Cuban or Spanish fold dances such as Danzon and Beguine.

Cha Cha – One of the most popular Latin dances in the U.S., the Cha Cha began as a variation of the Mambo called triple Mambo. It was so easy and so much fun, it became the rage of the early 1950’s. It’s infectious one-two, one-two-three, rhythm demands that sitters become dancers!

Rumba – The Rumba was at the beginning of the Cuban and Latin American dance crazes. Danced to music inspired by African rhythms and Spanish melodies, the Americanized Rumba was the basis for the Mambo and Cha Cha in the U.S. Rumba rhythms have found their way into Country Western, Blues, Rock & Roll and other popular forms of music.

Hustle – Discotheques (discos), with high quality sounds systems and flashing lights, became a popular form of entertainment in Europe and America in the late 1960′s and throughout the 70′s. In the early 1970′s a new dance craze became popular on the crowded dance floors of New York. This “Touch Disco” was called the Hustle.

Merengue– There are 2 schools of thought as to how this captivating dance began. One says it started as a peasant dance in the Dominican Republic by African slaves. Another says a returning war hero, a General Maringie, danced dragging an injured leg. Whatever it’s origin, today’s exciting rhythm of the Merengue inspires dancers all over the world to move to it’s intoxicating beat.

Samba – The national dance of Brazil became the rage of its society in the 1930’s but began as an exhibition dance in Paris in 1905. Move star and singer Carmen Miranda, is credited with making the dance popular in the U.S. in the early 1940’s.

More Dance Styles

Arthur Murray Dance Ottawa classes also include:
• International Standard (smooth)
• Nightclub – Freestyle, Disco, Hustle and Slow Dancing
• Country Western and Two Step
• The “Now and Forever” Wedding Program