There are just TWO steps to take to begin your latest dance adventure:
1. Take your pick from sizzling Salsa to Classic Ballroom. 2. Then find out about lessons !
Despite the "stuffy" image conjured up by the media, many younger people are now discovering that they can enjoy these classic dances to contemporary chart music. Classic Ballroom and International Latin American dancing is now not only included in the Olympic programme at a competitive level but is also thriving on campus at many Universities throughout the world.
These two styles are combined in a world-wide standardised programme of ten dances for both competitions and for leisure dancing:
CLASSIC BALLROOM AND LATIN STYLES
Whether with the hope of starting a new relationship with the evening's last dance or celebrating a wedding or anniversary, the Waltz remains the only dance whose innate romance links it inextricably with life's happier moments.
The Waltz's enduring appeal is due to its timeless romance and its ability to adapt and change to the musical style of the moment. Today, the romance of the Waltz is complemented by and danced to some great modern ballads and soft rock classics.
Samba immediately conjures up the Carnival atmosphere of Rio and the exuberant spirit of Party Latin America. While Carnival Samba is a solo dance, the international style of Samba is popular as a partner dance. The pulsating Samba drums evoke the rhythm of Rio while the shrill Samba whistles call you to join the Carnival.
Lively, invigorating and fun, the Quickstep developed from a combination of early versions of the Foxtrot and the Charleston into a pleasantly fast and powerfully flowing dance interspersed with syncopations and, with the Waltz, has become a firm favourite.
The Quickstep is danced to up tempo melodies and, if your foots tapping to the music, the chances are it's a Quickstep.
The Slow Foxtrot is a beautiful and romantic dance which has become the classic swing dance of the Ballroom and the dance which most Ballroom dancers aspire to dance well.
Its elegant lines and graceful sophistication demand a high level of technical expertise, dance experience and physical skill.
Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of dancers revel in the sheer enjoyment of the Slow Foxtrot as they glide around the floor to some of the best lilting ballads ever written.
In France, Spain and parts of South America, the Paso Doble is still a popular social dance. It is a relaxed fun dance in which the man parades the woman around the floor in party atmosphere. Elsewhere, however, it is rarely danced other than for formal dance assessments or competitions where the character of the dance is portrayed as a stylised bullfight. The man is the toreador and the woman his cape; not the bull.
By the time the Tango had evolved from its origins in Argentina in to a Ballroom dance, it's character had irrevocably changed. Drums, non-existent in Argentine Tango, had been added to the music and it became a quick march.
The head flicks which seem forever to characterise the stereotypical Ballroom Tango came about when German dancers introduced it in an interpretational response to the drum roll. The head flicks were introduced to the UK by Freddie Kemp and, when he won the British Ballroom Championships, the head flicks became an integral expression of the modern Tango.
Despite the preconception of ostentation with which the modern Tango is tarred, with no rise and fall, it is an easier dance to learn and, with inspiring music, dancing satisfaction always beckons.
Seductive, smouldering and sensuous, the pulsating rhythm and romantic music have made the Rumba's appeal both ageless and universal. The Rumba's sophisticated love-play story evokes the legend which attributes the dance as mimicking the courtship ritual of two love birds in the forest of Cuba or as a representation of the movement of slaves, legs in chains, as they swayed to the ancient chants of their homeland.
The rhythm and music is that of the beautiful, slow and exotic Cuban Guajira. In its original home of Cuba, there is no particular dance called a Rumba. There, it simply means dance. The dance itself exudes the strength and confidence of the archetypal machismo of the male Latin lover whose passion tempts his partner to become lost in the intensity and innuendo of the rhythm.
But the woman does not yield so readily. She remains coy, teasing and toying with the man as she repeatedly lures and then rejects his advances. There are few more profoundly beautiful moments in dancing than when taking up hold and feeling the pure intensity that is Rumba.
Cha Cha Cha
The Cha Cha Cha belongs to the Cuban family of Latin American dances including the Rumba and the international style Mambo. The pattern and structure are therefore very similar but with one major difference - the Cha Cha Cha ! The Cha Cha Cha adds an irrepressible cheeky quality to the dance and a contagiously catchy rhythm to the music making it one of the best loved of all Latin American dances.
Jive is an umbrella term for a dance that has so stood the test of time that the different styles of Jive evoke the spirit of the eras in which it has been an integral part of the dance scene of the day. Lindy Hop in the 1920's, Jitterbug and Boogie Woogie in the 1930's, Swing in the 1940's, Rock 'n' Roll in the 1950's, then came the international style in the 1960's ending up with Le Roc in the 1980's. Each style simply reflected the mood of the era but did so with such brilliance that it has endured as a favourite not only in the Ballroom but at any party any time any place.
The faster Viennese Waltz is considerably underrated in the UK whereas in continental Europe, it remains a firm favourite.
There, the social version of the Viennese Waltz is often danced as series of lilting steps using only the first beat of each bar of music. This style is ideal for leisure dancing and enables even new dancers to enjoy some of the wonderful classical Waltzes.
Josie Neglia - one of the world's greatest salsa stars
Seductive tropical rhythms blend in a spicy cocktail of hot Latino music for the Latino partner dance experience that has made Salsa the Club Dance phenomenon of the millennium.
Salsa is Latino dancing with attitude!
Following Castro's take-over of Cuba in 1959, many Cubans left for the USA; principally Miami and New York. Here they developed the infrastructures of their exile communities including a record company producing traditional Cuban music. By the late sixties, the young Hispanics were turning away from the roots of their parents in favour of Rock and other music. Facing financial straits, the record company needed to market its Son, Guaguanco, Charanga, Guaracha, Montuno and Guajira music to a wider audience and hit on an umbrella name that would make it instantly easier for non-Latinos to buy.
The name was SALSA.
As Salsa became more popular, the differences between the musical and dance traditions of Cuba melted away. Colombia developed its own style of Salsa with Cumbia, Vallenato and Pachanga while, in the USA and Puerto Rico, new stars emerged mixing Latino music with jazz, funk and rap.
Salsa spread rapidly throughout the USA, Europe and even beyond and is now one of he fastest growing styles of Club partner dancing in the world.
This is the most widespread and popular style of Salsa. The man moves around the woman leading an amazing variety of flowing turns. By following the basic structure of the dance and the man's leads, the woman does not need to know the exact move that the man is dancing. Freestyle Salsa always holds the promise of the unexpected and the exciting as the man finds new combinations of moves to thrill his partner.
L.A. style Salsa is based on Mambo, which has a different structure to the classic Cuban-Miami style and features many forward and back and cross-body moves. Widely considered to be one of the most exciting trends in Salsa, L.A.'s attractive showy style is slick and sophisticated but a little more demanding than its more relaxed Miami cousin.
This is a compact style of Salsa where the man remains relatively static and features spins rather than turns for the girl. Pachanga focuses on some impressive and intricate footwork fun while the simple and slower Vallenato evokes the romantic serenade of a man to his lover. A "trotting" rhythm instantly identifies the classic Colombian style of Cumbia. Colombian Salsa is less jazzy and new dancers often find it easier to dance to the melodic music.
The New York style of Salsa is based on Mambo which has a different dance and musical structure. The feel too is different as the dancers 'break' on the second count and the moves are different to other Salsa styles.
Merengue is a fun and flirtatious dance from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. Many moves in Merengue can be translated easily to and from Salsa making it an ideal combination in any Salsa Club programme. Merengue is included as part of Dance Matrix Introductory Salsa Courses.
Born two lifetimes ago in the squalid gutters where hope fought despair, the Tango lost its adolescent innocence in the bordellos and tough back-street bars of the Buenos Aires barrios before emerging from the shadows of its birthplace to entrance and inspire the world.
Tango is the dance of the midnight encounter, of the shadows of the back streets of Buenos Aires, of mystery and of magic as the dancers embrace and prepare to explore the potential of the moment and face fate on the dance floor. The soul rending strains of the Bandoneon reach out through the shadows and draw them ever deeper in to the dance that is theirs alone. In Tango, the man and woman are equal. Each explores the other. feet touch, probing as they weave intricate movements. Legs intertwine. Each may seduce. the suggestion of an embrace. Either may be seduced. The restrained passion of the Tango will never reach its ultimate conclusion for its power lies in the fragile potential of the moment; a fragility which would be broken by its fulfilment. Tango is the ultimate dance of man and woman.
Ten Tango Facts
- Tango originated in the late nineteenth century when hundreds of thousands of immigrants found themselves unemployed in Buenos Aires.
- 50% of the immigrants were Italian while only a third were Spanish.
- As the influx of newcomers grew, the male immigrants outnumbered the women in Buenos Aires by 50 to 1. This easily lead to duels being fought. The same sharp long-bladed knives that, during the day, were used to butcher meat in the Argentinean beef factories, by night, were often the means to settle disputes over women, territory or honour.
- Due to the shortage of women, men had to learn to Tango and practice with each other.
- The Tango was banned as being politically seditious after it became a prime unifying factor for the poorest classes.
- As the Tango reached Europe, it was also banned in Germany and condemned by the Pope.
- The main musical instrument of Tango is the Bandoneon; a type of accordion originally invented in Germany as a substitute in churches that could not afford an organ.
- In Tango, the lead passes back and forth between the man and the woman. The man may offer the lead to the woman. It is her decision to accept or reject it. The woman may also seize the lead from the man. He must then devise a means of regaining it and restoring his machismo.
- A Tango dancer is called a Milonguero; from the word Milonga - a forerunner of the Tango and a place where Tango is danced.
- Tango is impressive, sophisticated and showy but, despite its image, is also a lot of fun in easy-to-learn step-by-step classes.
This is the authentic and original style of Tango that originated in the back street bars and cafes of the Orillas (outskirts) of Buenos Aires. It is a raw, earthy and compact style requiring little floor space. The man and woman weave intricate figures around each other as they step between each others feet and legs entwine to perform some of the most sensuous moves.
Tango de Salon
As the Tango migrated from the Orillas (outskirts) to the salons (ballrooms) of the high class centre of Buenos Aires, the Tango took on a more formal and sophisticated feel incorporating walks to make the dance progress around the room according to European ballroom conventions.
Show Tango / Tango Fantasia
This style blends both Tango Orillero and Tango de Salon in a fantasy of Tango choreographed for the extremely popular series of Tango Shows touring the world.
Tango Vals - Tango Waltz
A charming variant of Tango in which the Tango steps are danced to the rhythm of the Viennese Waltz.
Fun and lively, the Milonga was a fore-runner of the Tango from which the Tango originally borrowed many of its moves. Now the Milonga is enjoyed as part of a typical Tango programme.