Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce” denoting a “spicy” and “hot” flavor. This popular dance style is a complex mix of many different rhythms. 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 slowed down mambo. It is an exciting, syncopated, Latin dance that gathers its personality, character, rhythm, basis, and charm from two major dance sources: mambo and swing. The cha-cha’s distinct repetitive foot rhythm characterizes his name.
The rumba began in Africa as a courtship, marriage, and street dance. The upper class showed some opposition to the dance 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-cha’s 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 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 the Merengue was born.
Imported from Spain, the bolero, a slower version of the rumba, is accompanied with Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually using congas or bongos. It is one of the competition dances in American Rhythm Ballroom dance category.
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