Dance Styles & Levels

Cha-cha

Dance actions always come from the sound of the music. Cha-cha was created by musicians from a form of the Cuban Mambo with slower music. Dancers later added an extra step, which became the Chasse Mambo. Enrique Jorrin, a Cuban violinist, developed the first cha-cha song. Cha-cha arrived in the United States in the 1950s. It is a fun, upbeat dance with fast or slow tempos.

Rumba

The form of rumba we teach today comes from a version of the several rumba dances called SON, which is a slower tempo than the fast hip movements of other forms. It is romantic and has a slower tempo. After being introduced in the United States by Orchestras in the 1920s, rumba continued to gain popularity until it was formally taught in the 1950s. It is probably the most socially versatile dance that can be used at weddings, on cruise ships, and numerous other social events.

Swing (East Coast)

East Coast Swing originates from the lindy hop that was born in the 1920s by young African-Americans at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. The lindy hop was accompanied by big band style music by artists such as Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. East Coast Swing was the name given to a simplified version of the lindy hop after World War II. It’s a fun, upbeat dance using swing hip action and bounce. This dance is always popular and recently has been having a surge as a wedding “first dance” option.

Bolero 

Bolero has a slow, sensual, dream-like quality. It originated from a blending of Moroccan, Spanish folk, and Afro-Cuban dances. It was originally danced to drum rhythms. Bolero was introduced in the United States in the mid-1930s and can be danced to many slow contemporary songs.

Mambo 

Mambo developed around the 1940s from a Cuban dance called the danzon, but also draws its origins from Cuban-Haitian and American jazz rhythms. Tito Rodriguez, Tito Puente, Perez Prado, and Xavier Cugat were all credited with introducing mambo. Mambo arrived in New York in 1947 and quickly became hugely popular. Mambo was taught in schools and resorts everywhere at its height of popularity in the 1950s, but it faded with the excitement of the new cha-cha. However, mambo has made a big come back recently due to exposure in movies and dancers bringing it back to the scene.

Samba 

Samba is a 100-year-old traditional Brazilian dance with African roots. Brazilians dance samba in celebration of Pre-Lenten. There are samba schools in Brazil where students compete in an annual competition. There are different tempos of samba, including the slower more sensual bossa nova and the fast-style bahia samba.

Paso Doble

An exciting, proud, and passionate dance, the paso doble was born in Spain and is symbolic of the bullfight. The paso doble also incorporates flamenco. There is a sense of “playing out” the roles of the matador, the matador’s cape, and a flamenco dancer. Paso doble involves strong, intense postures and arm movements.

Jive

The jive originated in the United States in the 1930s in the African American community. The jive was born from the influence and style of several swing dances, such as the lindy hop, rock ‘n’ roll, East and West Coast Swing, and the twist. It is fast paced and incorporates many kicks, flicks, and body-sway actions.

Waltz

Around the turn of the 18th century, the waltz developed from the Austrian-German landler folk dance. Landler was the first dance to exhibit closed hold and body contact, which was thought to be highly improper at the time. Regardless, the waltz became hugely popular throughout Europe and America until the foxtrot and tango took over after World War I. The waltz combines swaying and rise and fall actions. Dancers feet stay on the floor and create a gilding, graceful, and romantic feel. Waltz music is often haunting and features a dreamlike quality.

Tango

Tango was developed in the slums of Buenos Aires In the late 19th century. Cultures and rhythms mixed dance styles and steps to create an erotic, intimate form of dance. Like the waltz, the tango was rejected for a time due to its erotic nature. Before World War I, a couple named Vernon and Irene Castle spread the dance of tango in the United States and tango halls began to open up in New York City and big hotels around the country. There are three types of tango dance: American-style tango, International-style tango and Argentine tango. Tango is danced using close contact holds with a low center of gravity and features sharp, cat-like movements. In ballroom competitions, tango is danced in both International style and American style. There are separate Argentine tango competitions, but it is difficult to judge, as it’s an improvisational dance. 

Foxtrot

African American musicians straight out of ragtime music developed the foxtrot in the early 20th century. The music began to yield a syncopated rhythm that inspired people to get up and dance and many versions of the foxtrot began to emerge. Harry Fox was a young dancer, who in 1914 danced a foxtrot version of his own at the Ziegfeld Follies. His version soon became the most popular form in New York. After the dance travelled to England, it was refined into a smoother and more elegant version. Most of Frank Sinatra’s songs are foxtrot rhythm. The foxtrot can be danced as a wedding “first dance” and at many social events.

Viennese Waltz

The Viennese Waltz is a magical dance known for its speed and rotation around the dance floor — double the speed of waltz! A mastering of waltz has to be in place before attempting this faster version. The waltz was so popular in Vienna that the Austrian composers at the time began to increase the tempo for a change. Dancers were forced to keep up by improving their stamina and partnering skills. The Viennese Waltz is highly popular in America and Europe. It is often the dance seen by lovers in fairytales and can be an exhilarating and exciting romantic wedding “first dance” (if you are looking for a challenge)! 

Quickstep

The tempo of the quickstep dance is fast, because it was developed to ragtime era jazz music. Originating in England, The quickstep evolved in the 1920s from a combination of the foxtrot, The Chase G. Chug, Charleston, shag, Peabody, and one-step. The dance and was standardized in 1927. Three characteristic dance figures of the quickstep are the chasses — where the feet are brought together with quarter turns and the lock step.

This dance contains advanced patterns, including hops, runs, and quick steps with a lot of momentum and rotation. The quickstep is danced only in International Standard Style Ballroom. However, recently, the notion of including this dance in American-style competition repertoire is on the table.

Specialty and Club Dances:

Lindy Hop

In 1926, the “mother” of all swing dances, the lindy hop, was born to the sound of big band music in Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. People danced the lindy hop to the big band music, and the more people danced the better they got and new steps continued to be created and evolve the dance. IN 1935, A dancer named Frankie “Musclehead” Manning created the first airborne steps to add a whole new dimension to the dance. From there, other styles of swing were born adapting to changing music. As the lindy hop spread globally, it became known as the jitterbug. Today, passionate “lindy hoppers” around the country still enjoy the style in full swing.

West Coast Swing

West Coast Swing is the official dance of California. While it evolved from the lindy hop, there are differing versions of how it actually was created. Some believe that when the big band era was ending it forced people to dance in blues clubs, which changed the style of music and dance to a smoother more slot-like style. Unlike the East Coast Swing, there is no bounce. West Coast Swing is still highly popular and danced around the country and in Canada. There are competitions focused solely on West Coast Swing. It can be danced to numerous contemporary songs and genres.

Nightclub Two Step

Buddy Schwimmer developed the “Two Step” in Whitaker, Illinois when he was 15 years old. Buddy was doing a line dance called surfer stomp, which is based on two steps and a stomp. This danced went well with faster music, so Buddy found a way to dance to the in-between rhythms of music that were not too fast or too slow. The timing was changed and it went from a line dance to a partnership dance yielding the name the “Two Step.” In1978, Buddy opened a dance studio in Costa Mesa, California and started teaching Night Club Two Step.

Country Western dancers include a version of the “Two Step” in their competitions. However, the version most commonly taught has gliding, continuous sweeping movements with a casual feel.

The “Two Step” is a highly useful dance and fun social dance you can do in nightclubs, ballrooms, weddings, cruises, etc. It’s a great alternative to just swaying side to side with your partner.

Hustle

The first hustle dance was created in 1972 as a nameless dance with a 5-step count and no turns. Most people believe it originated in the South Bronx among Puerto Rican residents, and was originally danced at house parties, and basement dances in the South Bronx. By 1974, the hustle included six steps and became known as the Spanish Hustle or the Latin Hustle. Early dancers of the Spanish Hustle came from the Latin Symbolics Dance Company, founded by George Vascones. In 1975, the Fatback Band made a song called (Do The) Spanish Hustle. Around 1976 it became known as the New York Hustle, then later as just the hustle, when the dance became popularized after the release of the 1977 Saturday Night Fever movie with John Travlota. The hustle is still popular today and executed in competitions.

Merengue

Originating in the early 1800s, merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic. It began with countryside bands and singers. Merengue came to New York around the 1940s and has since evolved into a highly popular dance worldwide. Merengue is a fun, fast–tempo rhythm that is easy to learn and can be danced in any salsa club today.

Bachata

Like merengue, bachata was developed in the early part of the 20th century by countryside people in the Dominican Republic. The dance incorporated elements of bolero with African and traditional Latin-Caribbean rhythms. In the 1980s, bachata was considered too crude and musically rustic to enter mainstream music. Regardless, In the 1990s, musicians changed their acoustic guitars to electric steel string. The new electric bachata (New York style) became an international craze, and today bachata is joining popular music dance forms like salsa and merengue in many dance clubs.

Salsa

The late Celia Cruz noted that salsa does not exist as a rhythm, but rather as an exclamation for music such as guaracha, bolero, cha cha, danzon, son, rumba, and more. Salsa is a fast paced, fun, and exciting dance with lots of turns, spins, and feature moments called “shines.” Salsa got its name in New York City where cultures blended to form this new style of dance. Originally, it had its roots in Cuban rhythms noted above, especially the mambo. People will try to say that mambo is the same as salsa, but if you understand the music, it is distinctly different. One of the main distinctions of instrumental sound in salsa is the use of the clave instrument, referred to as “Clave Timing.” There is no doubting the popularity of salsa dancing worldwide as a fun, social dance — many countries, including the United States, have large salsa competitions and congresses. Salsa as a style continues to evolve. Singer-songwriter Marc Anthony is known for his salsa music.


Dance Levels

What to expect:

It is best to choose the proper level for your experience to get the most out of your dance instruction. I have found in my many years of experience that it is most beneficial and economical to master each level before moving on to the next. You don’t want to waste time and money correcting bad habits down the road! (Note: Some classes will have level pre-requisites in order to sign up. Classes are taught using a syllabus that goes by the Medalist system — Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Our skilled instructors will guide students on which level is best suited for their ability.)

Levels of Dance: Your dance transformation begins here…

BEG (Beginner) Pre-Bronze Level
Teaches the basics of dance: timing, footwork, frame, initial steps, and partnering skills. Any student is welcome with little or even no dance experience. Every professional was a beginner first! Right?

ADV BEG (Advanced Beginner) Bronze Level
Expands on the beginner level with more knowledge of steps and pattern execution. Ideal for students with at least one month of dance experience.

INT (Intermediate) Silver Level
Expands on the advanced beginner level knowledge with more exciting, intricate patterns and steps. A firm grasp of lead and following technique, partnering skills, and musicality are expected and a focus at this level.

ADV (Advanced) Gold Level
Expands on the knowledge from the intermediate level with the most challenging pattern executions. Solid knowledge of dance patterns and steps, musicality, timing, technique, and footwork are required. Students must have at least 12 + months dance experience. Get ready to push yourself to the PERFORMANCE LEVEL.

ALL (All Levels) Everyone
All levels are welcome from beginner on up. These classes offer general information with universal benefits.

Group Classes

Perfect for learning your dance steps at a level best suited for you. You will be learning along with others at the same level and pace. No partner is necessary as we rotate partners frequently. It has been proven that learning is 40% faster when rotating partners! Singles and Couples Welcome!

4-Week Series

Classes meet once a week at the same time.

Your knowledge and ability will progress over the course of the 4 weeks by reviewing material from previous weeks and building on your learning.

These classes fill up quickly, so take advantage of the “Early Registration Pricing” Registration Discount option (register and pay up to 1 one day, 24-hours, before the first class).

Each class meeting is between 50 and 60 minutes, depending on the class size.

Drop-in Classes:

  • Come in and take the class without any sign-up commitment.
  • Drop-in classes go over previous or new material depending on individual progress.
  • Drop-in classes are great for solidifying skills.
  • Style and technique classes will often be Drop-in classes.
  • Pre-registration is recommended, as these classes fill up quickly.
  • All Drop-in classes are 50-minutes long.
  • Please check our calendar for the latest open-enrollment schedule.


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