F A Qs

Q: What dances are taught at Social Graces Ballroom Dance Studios.

A: At Social Graces Ballroom Dance Studios we focus on American style which is the more social style taught.  We do however teach many different styles.  Below is a basic break down. Enjoy.

In the Ballroom dancing world there are so many different Ballroom dances that it’s hard to get an overall picture of all the different types of Ballroom dance styles that are out there.

While there are many Latin and Ballroom dances, most of them can fit in to at least one category or style. Depending on which part of the world you live in, the styles and dances may differ slightly, so keep that in mind.

Below we have included the most popular Ballroom dance styles in the following order: American Style, International Style, Latin nightclub style, Swing dances and other popular partner dances. Below you will find the specific dances that fall under each style with a brief description.

American Style

This is a style that is mainly danced in the United states but it is gaining popularity in other parts of the world recently. It’s main purpose was to make social dancing easy to pick up. It is danced both socially and competitively just like the International style (below). The Ballroom dances that fall under this style are broken down into 2 more types: American Rhythm and American Smooth. Below you’ll find all the dances that fall under this style.

American Rhythm

  • Cha Cha
  • Rumba
  • Swing (East Coast Swing)
  • Bolero
  • Mambo

American Smooth

  • Waltz
  • Foxtrot
  • Tango
  • Viennese Waltz

 

 

American Rhythm Dances & Characteristics:

 Cha Cha

History

Cha Cha evolved from a version of Cuban Mambo called Chasse Mambo.  As music always dictated the dance, chasse (meaning to chase) steps were inserted between the forward and back breaks when a slower version of Mambo music was played.  Reportedly, Cha Cha got its name from the sound of women’s shoes shuffling across the floor.

Cha Cha was introduced to the United States in the early 1950s and promptly sparked a dance craze.  Enrique Jorrin, a Cuban violinist, is attributed with creating the first Cha Cha song.  After arriving in the U.S., the traditional violins and flutes were often exchanged for big-band instruments such as trumpet, trombone, and saxophone.

Dance Characteristics

This dance is a fun and cheeky dance with emphasize of quick, concise foot and leg actions.

Video Lesson From Social Graces Below

Rumba

History

The “rumba influence” came in the 16th century with the black slaves imported from Africa. The native Rumba folk dance is essentially a sex pantomime danced extremely fast with exaggerated hip movements and with a sensually aggressive attitude on the part of the man and a defensive attitude on the part of the woman. The music is played with a staccato beat in keeping with the vigorous expressive movements of the dancers. Accompanying instruments include the maracas, the claves, the marimbola, and the drums.

As recently as the second world war, the “Son” was the popular dance of middle class Cuba. It is a modified slower and more refined version of the native Rumba. Still slower is the “Danzon”, the dance of wealthy Cuban society. Very small steps are taken, with the women producing a very subtle tilting of the hips by alternately bending and straightening the knees.

Dance Characteristics

This dance has a sensual feeling with lots of hip and body action – referred to as “Cuban motion”

Video Lesson From Social Graces Below

Swing (East Coast)

History

East coast Swing traces its roots to the original swing dance, Lindy Hop.  Lindy Hop was created in the last 1920s by African American youth at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem.  Danced to the swing and jazz music of big bands such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Benny Goodman, Lindy Hop was, and remains, a dynamic, athletic dance.

By the mid-1930s, Lindy Hop (also called Jitterbug and Swing) had captured the imagination of young people everywhere.  It was widely danced in the U.S. and Europe through the end of World War II.  In the early 1940s, Lindy Hop was tamed and simplified by dance schools to become a ballroom dance called Eastern Swing.  In the late 1970s, the name was changed to East Coast Swing.

Dance Characteristics

East Coast Swing is a fun, upbeat, non-progressive dance, distinguished by its bounce, back break (also called a “rock step”), and “swing hip action”.

Video Lesson From Social Graces Below

Bolero

History

Bolero was originally a Spanish dance with Moroccan roots.  Bolero is often called the “Cuban Dance of Love,” and is thought to have similar origins to Rumba.  Bolero is believed to have evolved from Afro-Cuban and Spanish folk dances such as the Danzon, Beguine and Fandango.  Arriving in the U.S. in the mid-1930s, it was danced in its traditional form to a constant beat of drums.  Contemporary Bolero music is slow and dreamy, usually with Spanish vocals and soft percussion.

Dance Characteristics

The Bolero is the slowest of the Rhythm dances and has a very graceful way of moving with rise and fall and lots of shaping.

Video Lesson From Social Graces Below

Mambo

History

Mambo developed from the Cuban dance Danzon, and was greatly influenced by Cuban Haitians and American Jazz.  Perez Prado is credited with introducing Mambo at a Havana nightclub in 1943.  Other Latin musicians made significant contributions to Mambo’s growth and development, including Tito Rodriquez, Tito Puente and Xavier Cugat.

Around 1947, Mambo arrived in New York.  Quickly becoming all the rage, Mambo was taught at dance schools, resorts and nightclubs, reaching its height of popularity by the mid-1950s.  The fad waned with the birth of Cha Cha, a dance developed from Mambo.  The Mambo has regained its popularity, due in large part to a New York dancer named Eddie Torres, as well as popular Mambo songs and movies.

Dance Characteristics

Mambo is a fast and spicy dance characterized by strong Cuban Motion, staccato movement and expression of rhythm through the body.  The dancer holds on count “1” and breaks on count “2”.  Mambo also features exciting swivels and spins.

 

American Smooth Dances & Characteristics:

Waltz

History

Until the 18th century, dance was strictly divided between courtly and country forms.  In the courts, dances like the Minuet were refined affairs with an elaborate language of bows and curtsies.  There was little physical contact between dancers, and proper form, like turned-out feet, was considered essential. Everything changed with the Waltz.

The name Waltz comes from the Italian word “volver”, meaning to turn or revolve.  It evolved from a German and Austrian peasant dance called the Landler, and was the first widely popular dance to feature a closed position.  Because of this close hold, Waltz was denounced as scandalous and immoral.

The Waltz was ultimately standardized with the Box pattern and the dance hold we know today.  The Waltz dominated much of the European and American dance scene until the First World War, when the Tango and Foxtrot enraptured a whole new generation.

Dance Characteristics

Waltz is characterized by rise & fall and sway.  The feet stay in contact with the floor, creating a smooth, gliding look.  Waltz has an elegant gracefulness with a romantic and sometimes melancholy feel.

Video Lesson From Social Graces Below

Foxtrot

History

The story of the Foxtrot begins at the turn of the 20th century when African American musicians such as Scott Joplin began composing syncopated ragtime music.  A smooth dance like the Waltz would not do for this fervent new music.  One of the first dances to evolve for ragtime music was the Turkey Trot, a one-step that included flapping the arms like a turkey.  Then came the Monkey Dance, Horse Trot, Grizzly Bear, Bunny Hug and Kangaroo Dip.  Ragtime demanded dances with jerky steps, emulating the walk and the wild abandon of animals.

In 1914, a young dancer named Harry Fox did his version of trotting on the stage of the Ziegfield Follies.  Fox’s fast and jerky trot became the hot new thing in New York.  When the Foxtrot traveled to England, the jumps and high jinks of the origianl were ironed out.  What remains is a smooth, elegant dance more reminiscent of the Waltz than of the Trot’s hyperactive past.  In fact, many of the Foxtrot’s patterns have been adaped straight from the Waltz.

Dance Characteristics

Key characteristics of the Foxtrot are smooth, gliding steps with controlled movement and an easy going look.  The foxtrot can be danced to many styles of music.  There are two styles of Foxtrot: social style may be danced with a mild bounce action, while competitive style has a smoother, more Waltz-like feeling.

Video Lesson From Social Graces Below

Tango

History

Tango is a dance that has influences from European and African culture.  Dances from the candombe ceremonies of former slave peoples helped shape the modern day Tango.  The dance originated in lower-class districts of Buenos Aires and Montevideo.  The music derived from fusion of various forms of music from Europe.  The word “tango” seems to have first been used in connection with the dance in the 1890s.  Initially it was just one of the many dances, but it soon became popular throughout society, as theatres and street barrel organs spread it from the suburbs to the working-class slums, which were packed with hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, primarily Italians, Spanish and French.

In the early years of the 20th century, dancers and orchestras from Buenos Aires travelled to Europe, and the first European Tango craze took place in Paris, soon followed by London, Berlin, and other capitals.  Towards the end of 1913 it hit New York in the USA, and Finland.  In the USA around 1911 the “tango” was often applied to dances in a 2/4 or 4/4 rhythm such as the one-step.  The term was fashionable and did not indicate that Tango steps would be used in the dance, although they might be.  Tango music was sometimes played, but at a rather fast Tempo.  Instructors of the period would sometimes refer to this as a “North American Tango” versus the so-called “Argentine Tango”.  By 1914 more authentic Tango stylings were soon developed, along with variations like Albert Newman’s “minuet” tango.

In Argentina, the onset on 1929 of the Great Depression, and restrictions introduced after the overthrow of the Hipolito Yrigoyen government in 1930 caused Tango to decline.  Its fortunes were reversed as Tango became widely fashionable and a matter of national pride under the government of Juan Peron. Tango declined again in the 1950s as a result of economic depression and banning of public gatherings by the military dictatorship; male-only tango practice – the custom at the time – was considered public gathering.  That, indirectly, boosted the popularity of rock and roll because, unlike Tango, it did not require such gatherings.
American Tango is a ballroom dance that branched away from its original Argentine roots by allowing European, American, Hollywood, and competitive influences into the style and execution of the dance.  The present day ballroom Tango is divided into two disciplines: American Style and International Style.  Both styles are enjoyed as social and competitive dances, but the International version is more globally accepted as a competitive style.  Both styles share a closed dance position, but the American style allows its practitioners to separate from closed position to execute open moves (like underarm turns), alternate hand holds, dance apart, and perform side by side choreography.

Dance Characteristics

Tango is a dramatic dance characterized by a close hold (that is more compact than the other smooth dances), a low center of gravity and an emphasis on Contra Body Movement.  Movement in Tango is stealthy, almost cat-like and has an unmistakable staccato feel.

Video Lesson From Social Graces Below

Viennese Waltz

History

In 1787, Waltz began to appear on the operatic stages of Vienna.  As the popularity of Waltz increased in Vienna, so did its tempo.  Sometime in the early 1800s, Austrian composers such as Johann Strauss and Franz Lanner increased the number of measures per minute in their Waltzes.  The faster music required dancers to have greater technique and endurance.

This new version of Waltz became known as Viennese Waltz.  Like Waltz, many considered the dance to be immoral.  In a book written about good manners by the English author, Miss Celbart, she advised that while it was permissible to dance Viennese Waltz if a lady were married, it was “too loose of character for maidens to perform.”  Despite such contentions, Viennese Waltz continued to be extremely popular in Europe and America until the First World War.

Dance Characteristics

Viennese Waltz is characterized by its speed (approximately twice as fast as Waltz), as well a rise & fall and sway (both significantly less than in Waltz).  With its elegance and turns, Viennese Waltz has an air of magic about it.

International Style

This is a style that is danced all around the world. This style has very specific syllabus that dancers strive to master. It is danced both socially and competitively. Those that choose to study this style spend a lot of time working on the style and technique which is very strict and somewhat complex. The dances that fall under this style can be broken down into 2 more types: International Latin and International Standard.

International Latin

  • Cha Cha
  • Rumba
  • Samba
  • Paso Doble
  • Jive

Internation Standard

  • Waltz
  • Foxtrot
  • Tango
  • Viennese Waltz
  • Quickstep 

We teach more dances than these, come find out what dance style fits your style.  Call today and set up that first lesson.

540-409-7136

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“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.”

-John C. Maxwell

Social Graces Ballroom Dance Studio

639 East Main St.

Berryville, VA 22611

540-409-7136