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DancePedia - Description of Ballroom and Latin Dances


The oldest and best known of all Ballroom dances. Waltz is a progressive dance that features a lovely, elegant rise-and-fall action, ¾ time music and a 1-2-3 rhythm.


Tango evolved as a ballroom dance from the Argentine Tango. Tango features sharp movements, head snaps, and a cat-like and stealthy foot action and has an unmistakable staccato feel and major dramatic attitude. The music is in 4/4 time and has a marching rhythm.

Viennese Waltz

This whirling, thrilling dance dates back to the early 1700's in Europe . Viennese Waltz is danced in fast (twice as fast as Waltz) ¾ time with a 1-2-3 rhythm and features a series of left and right turns as the couple whirls around the dance floor. With its elegance and turns, Viennese Waltz has an air of magic about it.


This smooth and elegant dance had its beginnings in a New York theatre in 1914. There, a vaudeville actor named Harry Fox began dancing a series of trotting steps to ragtime music as a part of his act. Foxtrot has smooth gliding steps with a heel lead, controlled movement and an easygoing look.  The foxtrot is an all-purpose dance that can be performed to many different styles of music.


The dance began as a quick version of Foxtrot mixed with the Charleston and musical "jazz" influences. It is characterized by fast movement, often including a variety of hops, kicks, skips, lock steps and chasses.


Cha-Cha originated in Cuba and evolved from a slow version of Mambo called “Triple Mambo”. Cha-Cha is a lively, fun, cheeky and playful dance.  It is a non-progressive dance that emphasizes Cuban motion, distinguished by the chasses (cha-cha-cha) typically danced during the 4&1 counts of the music.


Rumba is universally recognized as the "dance of love", distinguished by it's romantic feel. It is danced to slow, sensual music with a Latin beat and features a hip action known as “Cuban Motion.” Continuous, flowing Cuban motion which gives Rumba its sensual look. .


Samba is the national dance of Brazil , celebrated every year during Carnival. Samba is a fun, upbeat, lively dance that progresses counter-clockwise around the floor.  It is characterized by its syncopated timing, bounce, rolling hip action and pelvic tilt and a great deal of rhythm is expressed throughout the torso.

Paso Doble

A dramatic French-Spanish Flamenco-style march danced in 2/4 time, with man portraying the matador in a bullfight, the lady as his cape.


The European version of the East Coast Swing, this dance uses six and eight count patterns. However, it is danced quite bouncy with very sharp foot kicks and flicks to faster tempo swing music.

Argentine Tango

This style of Tango originated in the streets and salons of Buenos Aires and is characterized by its passionate hold and complex leg and foot movements.


Bolero is a slow, beautiful, expressive dance that is somewhat of a hybrid. It combines the dance patterns of Rumba with the rise and fall action of the Waltz. It is danced to music in 4/4 time, at a tempo slower than Rumba.


Mambo is a fast and spicy dance characterized by strong Cuban motion, staccato movement and expression of rhythm through the body.  The dancer holds on counts 1 and break on count 2.  Mambo also features press lines, many swivels and spins. 


Merengue is a fun, fast and easy dance made up of simple steps, originated in the Dominican Republic . It is mainly a non-progressive dance but can also travel counter-clockwise around the floor. This dance encourages creativity as it's fun and easy to create arms movements to go with the simple steps. Merengue is characterized by its marching rhythms and Cuban motion - strong side to side motion and ‘dragged leg' with emphasis on counts 1 and 5.


This is a truly great club dance, one that is fun, accessible, sexy, and constantly evolving as new generations come to the Salsa clubs. Salsa dancing features break steps, spins, showy performance moves and drops, and solo moves called “Shines,” a term borrowed from the world of tap dancing.


The Hustle is the partner version of disco dancing. It is a fast moving, energetic dance characterized by its many turns. The lady spins almost constantly while her partner draws her close and sends her away.  It is one of the few dances that do not phrase evenly with the music: each basic occupies 3 beats of music, though the music is in 4/4 time

Night Club Two Step

It is a slow, romantic, floaty dance that is done to contemporary and popular ballads. Its key characteristic is a rock step (5th position break) followed by a side step with a slight sway.

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