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Dance Types

Rhythm and Latin Dances

For competitive dancing, our dance studio Arthur Murray offer a variety of rhythm classes. The Latin dance styles are grouped into two main categories: American Rhythm and International Latin. When comparing the two styles, the most obvious difference is that they each have some unique dances. However, all the dances in each style do differ from their counterparts, in subtle ways, mostly having to do with technique. You will find competitive events in each style.

Socially, the following dances fall under the category of Latin and/or rhythm:

  • Rumba - Learning the Rumba is a prerequisite for good Latin dancing. The Cuban Motion is essential for rhythmic dancing and is used by good dancers everywhere to provide interesting variety suited to a limited space. Neat, attractive, precise footwork gives you confidence in your dancing. The Rumba will sharpen your sense of rhythm, timing, and muscular control.
  • Cha Cha – This style of dancing adds fun to your dancing through its syncopated steps and many open movements. When you can dance many interesting combinations with ease, you and your partner will be able to feel the pulsating Latin rhythms which make the Cha-Cha so fascinating. The energetic rhythm encourages you to cut loose and let your personality show.
  • Swing/East Coast Swing - This spot dance style is carefree, relaxed, and easily mastered by most people. The various speeds are excellent training for quick footwork and good leading / following skills. After mastering the patterns, both men and women will find Swing a fun and exciting dance to learn and practice.
  • Merengue - The Merengue develops Cuban Motion and is the simplest dance to learn. Its uncomplicated timing makes it easy to feel the music and adapt to any partner. It is the only Latin dance that combines one-step timing with Cuban Motion. The march type beat sharpens timing and coordination to develop a clearer interpretation of musical rhythm.
  • Jive - Jive is an international competitive Swing dance with elements of the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug. It is characterized by up-tempo single-time music and danced with triple steps done primarily on the toes with very lively movement.
  • Hustle - Originated in the 1970s, the Hustle was popularized by John Travolta in the movie "Saturday Night Fever." Both the music and the dance swept the country like wildfire, and fuses techniques of Swing and Disco. It is one of the most popular nightclub dances across the country.
  • Lindy - Popular musical groups of today have revived interest in the acrobatic style from the original Lindy Hop Era and have fired the imagination and enthusiasm of a whole new generation of Lindy Hop dancers.
  • West Coast Swing - This stylized Swing dance was popular west of the Mississippi from Kansas to California. It is danced to slow or medium tempo Swing or Disco music and characterized by slot movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and push and pull action of the dancers.
  • Samba - Samba improves an individual's flexibility and helps achieve easy movement and lightness. The Samba rolling action teaches the body to be supple by moving lightly, quickly, and smoothly without effort takes study but only at the start. Although considered a good exercise, Samba should be danced smoothly and in a relaxed manner to appear effortless.
  • Mambo - The Mambo is a fusion of Cuban and American dancing. The music is characterized by a stirring Afro-Cuban beat. It allows you to develop your own feeling and expression. Since it is such a fun dance, Mambo dancers are popular and in demand as partners.
  • Salsa- As the Spanish word for "sauce" denoting a "spicy" and "hot" flavor, Salsa is also a popular dance style to a complex mix of many different rhythms. There are indications the term Salsa was coined by radio disc jockeys in Puerto Rico as early as the 1960s. The fusion of an Afro-Cuban beat with enhanced jazz textures results in an aggressive high energy pulse which has become popular everywhere.
  • Jitterbug- The Jitterbug is also known as single-time swing. It is usually done to faster Swing music and is a highly energetic and expressive dance. It could also be referred to as a toned down Lindy Hop. It is also a spot dance and highly useful on crowed dance floors.
  • Bolero- Originally a Spanish dance in 3/4 time, it was changed in Cuba into 2/4 time and then eventually into 4/4 time. It is now a very slow type of Rumba rhythm. This dance is often said to have the rise and fall of Waltz, the contra-body motion of Tango, and the rhythm of Rumba to create a slow, sensual, romantic dance.

Smooth and Standard Dances

There are two main categories when talking about Standard Dancing – The International Standard and American Smooth. The International Standard style is danced widely in competitions, both in the United States and throughout the world. The most obvious trait of the International Standard style is the dancers' constant closed position, where the two dance partners never lose contact. The Standard dances are also characterized by their very precise elements of technique: footwork, rise & fall, amounts of turn, etc. From this technique emerges a unique elegance and beauty.

Four of the Standard dances have their American-style counterparts. In the American Smooth style, partners often separate from closed dance position, and dance apart from each other. American Smooth is quite popular at social dances, and is danced at major competition events across the United States. The ballroom dance steps in this expressive style are creative and can be extremely fun to dance and watch.

The following are dances that fall under the category of standard and/or smooth:

  • Fox Trot – The Fox Trot is a basic dance that serves as a foundation for other styles. Learning to combine dance steps easily and smoothly teaches variety and maneuverability. The Fox Trot posture is attractive in appearance and helpful to all other dances. It is often called the "get-acquainted" or "first impression" dance.
  • Waltz - Waltz develops balance and control. The basic Waltz steps are the foundation patterns used in most ballroom dances. Correct posture, rise and fall, and flowing movements should be stressed to achieve good styling. The elegant sweeping movement of the Waltz gives dancers a chance to practice balance and moving lightly.
  • Tango - (for Argentine Style, please refer to "Specialty Dances") – The Tango is one of the most beautiful of all the dances. It is characterized by earthy and dramatic movements. In order to achieve the distinctive style of Tango, it is important to develop controlled staccato footwork along with fluid graceful movements. The unique rhythm of the music is great training for timing and phrasing which develops as the dancer becomes more proficient.
  • Viennese Waltz - With such wonderful composers as Johann Strauss and others, the Waltz became more and more refined. The steps became smaller with the turns smoother and more compact. Adding the graceful lilt of the flowing skirts, we have today's Viennese Waltz.
  • Quickstep - Quickstep is the English version of the Fast Fox Trot, which has quick hopping steps set in with the smoother gliding figures. It is very popular in Europe as a competition dance. It ranks among the "Big Five."

Country Western Dances

Here at Arthur Murray, we have an entire Country Western Syllabus that teaches many of the popular dances. For those of you who have aspirations of competition, these dances can be found at nearly every event that we attend.

The following is a list of dances found in our Country Western Syllabus:

  • Progressive Two Step - Originated in the 1800′s by Europeans, the Progressive Two Step was an offspring of the minuet. In the old Western days when women were not allowed to dance with men, men danced together and that is the reason for the hand on the shoulder holding a can of beer and the other hand to the side. Eventually, only women from the Indian Squaws were allowed to join, which where the turn techniques came about.
  • Country Western Waltz - This is the Country Western counterpart to the Ballroom Waltz. This version is generally faster and progresses rapidly down the floor. Generally seen as the romantic country dance, the movement is graceful and playful through its use of turns and spins.
  • Country Swing - Country Swing, also referred to as four count Swing or Pony swing, is characterized by its use of continuous rock steps. This is an easy dance to learn and is often fun for those looking to get out on the dance floor immediately.
  • West Coast Swing - This is a stylized Swing dance popular west of the Mississippi from Kansas to California. It can be danced in a slot to medium to slow Swing or Disco music, and is characterized by taps, shuffles, coaster steps, and push and pull action of the dancers.
  • Texas Two-Step – As a modified version of the popular Progressive Two-Step, this is dance to a slower tempo of music. The primary difference between the two styles is an exaggerated brushing action done side to side during the two slow counts of the basic.
  • Country Shuffle – The Country Shuffle is the Western version of Polka. The main difference is that the style of Shuffle is less hoppy than the Polka. The basic step consists of a triple to the left followed by a triple to the right.
  • Country Triple - This dance resembles East Coast Swing, however, the rock step is replaced with walking steps and the dance becomes a progressive dance down the floor.

Specialty Dances

In addition to a variety of traditional dances, we also teach other styles as well. Many of our specialty dances are a combination of dance types and utilize a variety of different techniques. If you are interested in learning a specific dance, feel free to ask us at any of our locations.

The following are miscellaneous dances that are taught at Arthur Murray:

  • Polka - This dance was introduced to society in 1844. Every now and then it is revived because of its boisterous charm. The basic step consists of a preparatory hop followed by a chasse done first to the left and then to the right. Curiously enough, it reappeared again in the 1940′s in the Cha-Cha as one of the more popular steps.
  • Argentine Tango - This dance originated in the West Indies where it was danced only by the lowest classes. The name is from the African Tanganya. The dance found its way into Argentina where it was re-created by the Gauchos in Buenos Aires. It was actually an attempt to imitate the dance except that they danced it in a closed ballroom position. The Tango caused a sensation and was soon to be seen the world over in a more subdued version.
  • Night Club Two Step - This dance is an easy playful dance that can be done to many pop songs. It is done to 4/4 time music and has similar patterns to those found in Salsa, although the style of this dance is much slower and smoother. This is a popular dance among wedding couples as it is usually a good tempo for the slower romantic ballads.
  • Slow Dance - This dance is related to Fox Trot but is done with even timing and on smaller crowded nightclub floors. This is a great dance for couples who want to get out on the dance floor immediately. It is useful in jazzy nightclubs or lounges.

Make a lifetime investment in yourself! If you're interested in learning about the various styles of dance that we teach, feel free to contact one of our locations today:

  • Aquebogue (631) 779-2910
  • Port Jefferson (631) 331-5423

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