Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce” denoting a “spicy” and “hot” flavor to this 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 1960’s. Later associated with a New York sound developed by Puerto Rican musicians, Salsa is considered the national music and dance of Puerto Rico. The fusion of an Afro-Cuban beat with enhanced jazz textures results in an aggressive high energy pulse which has become popular everywhere. Many of the patterns are closely related to those of the Mambo and Cha-Cha.
The Paso Doble, a theatrical Spanish dance, translated as the ‘Double Step’, characterizes that man as the matador and the lady as his cape. The character of the dance is based on the Flamenco dancing. It is arrogant and passionate.
Cha-cha Dance lessons originated in the 1950s as a slow down Mambo. It is an exciting syncopated, Latin dance which gathers its personality, character, rhythm, basis, and charm from two major dance sources. It derives from the Mambo through its Latin music, and his also a stepchild of the Swing, based on the 1-2-3 step rhythm. The Cha Cha distinct repetitive foot rhythm characterizes his name.
The Rumba began as a courtship, marriage, and street dance that originated in Africa. The upper class showed some opposition to the society due to suggestive body and hip movements. What characterizes the dance is taking each step without initially placing the weight on it. It is taken with a slightly bent knee which, when straightened, causes the hips to sway from side to side, in what has come to be known as the Cuban Motion.
Showing similarities to the rumba and cha-chas complex step pattern, the Mambo which originated in the Caribbean was influenced by the American Swing Orchestras in the 1940’s and 50’s. The peppiest dance of the era was quickly adopted in the New-York city.
Birthed in the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro in 1917, the Samba, also referred to as a Carioca, a Baion or a Batucado, was finally adopted as a ballroom dance by the Brazilian society in 1930. Since the steps in all four dances are very similar, only the tempo differs. This uplifting dance is known for its sensual hip movement based on a 2/4 tempo. Carmen Miranda, the famous Broadway actress, introduced the Samba to the United-States in 1939.
Originated in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the Merengue is a popular dance and is a truly lively Latin Dance. An old tale is being told, about a very brave and famous military officer, who was wounded in battle and developed a limp. A celebration dance was then given for the great hero returning from the war. Not wishing to embarrass their hero who limped on his wounded leg while dancing, all the men present, favored their leg as well, and thus he Merengue was born.
Imported from Spain, the Bolero, being a slower version of the Rumba, is accompanied with Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually using Congas or Bongos. Written in a 4/4 time mainly everywhere, except in Cuba where it is in 2/4 time. It is one of the competition dances in American Rhythm Ballroom dance category.