Rhythm & Latin
Swing/East Coast Swing
West Coast Swing
Smooth & Standard
Country Western Waltz
West Coast Swing
If you are interested in learning a specific dance and are not sure if we teach it, please contact us.
Rhythm and Latin Dances
For competitive dancing, the Latin dance styles are grouped into two main categories: American Rhythm and International Latin. The American Rhythm style consists of five dances: Cha-Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing, Bolero, and Mambo. The International Latin style also consists of five dances: Cha-Cha, Rhumba, Jive, Paso Doble, and Samba. When comparing the two styles, the most obvious difference is that each has unique dances attributed to them. However, all the dances in each style can differ from their counterparts, and most dances have to do with developing technique. You will find competitive events in both styles of dance.
The following fall under the category of Latin or Rhythm dances:
Rumba- Learning the Rumba is a prerequisite for developing good Latin dancing. Cuban Motion is essential for Latin dances and the Rumba provides interesting variety suited for dancing in a limited space. Neat, attractive and precise footwork will give you confidence in your dancing while the Rumba will sharpen your sense of rhythm, timing, and muscle control.
Cha Cha- The Cha-Cha adds fun to your dancing through its syncopated steps and many open movements. When you learn to dance many interesting combinations with ease, you and your partner will be able to feel the pulsating Latin rhythms that make this dance fascinating. The energetic rhythm of the Cha-Cha encourages you to cut loose and let your personality shine.
Swing/East Coast Swing- The Swing is a dance with a carefree relaxed style, and is easily mastered by many people. The various speeds are excellent training for developing quick footwork which will add comfort and ease in other rhythm dances. After mastering basic patterns, students often find Swing a fun and exciting dance to learn. It's one of the dances that can quickly become contagious.
Merengue -Merengue incorporates Cuban Motion and is the simplest dance to learn. Its uncomplicated timing makes it easy to feel the music and to adapt to any partner. It is the only Latin dance that combines one-step timing with Cuban Motion, and is therefore is a help to all Latin dances. The sharp beat develops timing & coordination, and proper use of the accent will develop a clearer interpretation of musical rhythm.
Jive- Jive is an international competitive Swing dance that combines elements of the Lindy Hop and the Jitterbug. Characterized by up-tempo, single-time music, and danced with triple steps done primarily on the toes, this dance creates very lively movement.
Hustle- The Hustle originated in the 1970's Disco Era and was popularized by John Travolta in the movie "Saturday Night Fever." Both the music and the dance swept through the country like wildfire, and though the white suits and gold chains have faded away, the dance has stood the test of time, giving us the fusion of Swing and Disco. The Hustle is still one of the most popular nightclub dances across the country.
Lindy- Today’s popular music groups have revived interest in the traditional Lindy Hop Era and have fired up the imagination and enthusiasm of a whole new generation of Lindy Hop dancers. However, the acrobatic style used for exhibitions is not the same as the quietly rhythmic Lindy enjoyed by most dancers on the ballroom floor.
West Coast Swing- WCS is a stylized Swing dance that is popular west of the Mississippi. West Coast is danced to slow or medium tempo music and is characterized by deliberate movements, taps, shuffles, and the push and pull action of the dancers.
Samba- Samba improves the flexibility of the body and helps achieve easy movement and agility. The Samba rolling action teaches the body to be supple and lean. To move quick and smooth without effort not only takes study but patience, but only at the start. Although considered a good exercise, Samba should be danced smoothly and in a relaxed manner while giving the appearance of effortless movement. Sometimes called the South American Waltz, the Samba pulsates to a unique Latin rhythm.
Mambo - Mambo is a fusion of Cuban and American style dancing. The music is characterized by a stirring Afro-Cuban beat. Mambo is an exciting dance which allows you to develop your own feeling and expression. Because Mambo is such a fun dance, good Mambo dancers are always popular and remain in constant demand as partners. The wild exciting music and rhythmical body movements make the earthy Mambo irresistible.
Salsa- Salsa is the Spanish word for "sauce" denoting a "spicy" and "hot" flavor to this popular dance. There are indications that the term Salsa was coined by radio disc jockeys in Puerto Rico in the early 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 aggressive-high energy dancing which has become popular everywhere. Many of the patterns are closely related Mambo and Cha-Cha.
Jitterbug- Jitterbug is also known as the single-time swing. It is usually done to faster music and is a highly energetic and expressive dance. Closely resembled to the Lindy Hop, the Jitterbug can also be danced in close quarters which is useful on a crowded dance floor.
Bolero- Originally a Spanish dance in ¾ time, it was changed in Cuba into 2/4 time and then eventually into 4/4 time. It is now present as 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. It is a favorite of dancers, as it incorporates many techniques similar to other dances 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 includes five dances: Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, and Quickstep. This 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 (as opposed to American Smooth style, where couples often open up, and dance apart from each other). 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. The American Smooth dances consist of: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz. 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- Fox Trot is a basic dance from which you can acquire a foundation. 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. Being able to dance to slow, medium, and fast tempos will add confidence to your dancing and will assure fun and relaxation for your partner. The Fox Trot provides a good foundation for all dances and 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 to move lightly with ease.
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 to great training for timing and phrasing, which develops as the dancer becomes more proficient. Tango practice is essential towards becoming a good dancer.
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 tilt of the flowing skirts, we have today's Viennese Waltz.
Quickstep- Quickstep is the English version of the fast Foxtrot, 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
At Arthur Murray, we have an entire Country Western Syllabus that teaches many of the popular dances. And for those of you who have aspirations to compete, these dances can be found at nearly every event we hold.
The following is a list of dances found in our Country Western Syllabus:
Progressive Two-Step- The Two-Step originated in the 1800's by people who arrived here from Europe. It was an offspring of the minuet and they danced it as QQSS. 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. The only women who eventually danced with these men were Indian Squaws and that is where all the turns came about, because Indian women loved to spin. Two-Step is a Western dance whose popularity has spread in the United States.
West Coast Swing- A stylized Swing dance popular west of the Mississippi from Kansas to California. Danced in a slow to medium Swing or Disco music and characterized by slow movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and push and pull action of the dancers.
Texas Two Step- Texas Two-Step is a modified version of the popular Progressive Two-Step done to slower tempos 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- Country Shuffle is the Western version of the Polka. The primary difference is that the style of Shuffle is less hoppy than the Polka. The basis 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.
The following are miscellaneous dances that are taught at Arthur Murray. If you are interested in learning a specific dance and are not sure whether we teach it or not, please feel free to contact us.
Polka- This dance was introduced to society in 1844. Every now and then it is revived because of its boisterous charm. It is supposed to have been originally created by a Bohemian girl. The basic step consist of a preparatory hop followed by a chasse done first to the left then to the right. Curiously enough, it reappeared again in the 1940's in the Cha Cha as one of the most popular steps. The Polka is still danced quite often throughout the country.
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-reated by the Gauchos in Buenos Aires. It was actually an attempt on their party 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.
Nightclub 2-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 slower romantic ballads.
Slow Dance- This dance is related to the Fox Trot but is done with even timing and on smaller crowded nightclub floors. This a great dance for couples who want to get out on the dance floor immediately. It is useful in jazzy nightclubs or lounges.