A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - Q - R - S - T - V - W - X - Y - Z
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Alegrias is one of the oldest of Spanish Gypsy dances and is often
called the "Queen" of Flamenco dances. It is the purest and more
refined of the repertoire. It suggests the movements of the bullfight
and is usually danced by a woman alone.
ALLEMANDE: An 18th century dance. Also a figure used in our present day Barn dances.
A dance created in Paris by the people of the underworld. It portrayed
their uninhibited passions. The woman was flung about, kicked or
embraced with equal fervor. This style was later imitated in Tangos or
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 and then to France and finally into the United States in
a modified form about 1914. Latin American ballroom Tango is danced in
4/4 time. NOTE: See also Continental Tango, English Tango, and Tango.
ARKANSAS TRAVELER: An old time Barn dance depicting a salesman of tin ware who came from Arkansas.
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BAION: A type of slow Samba rhythm from Brazil that became popular in North America during the 50's.
BACHATA: A music related in rhythm to the Rumba and Bolero usually with a strong electric guitar. Also a dance to this music using alternating chasses and taps.
BALBOA: A form of Swing popularized during the 50's in California.
An old Mexican air from the province of Vera Cruz, Mexico, to which a
charming folk dance depicts two lovers who throwing a narrow sash on
the floor manage to tie it into a knot with their dancing feet.
The national dance of Colombia, South America. It is characterized by
cross accents in the music. It was formerly danced only by the natives
but became a ballroom dance to be added to the gentle Pasillo, a
favorite with Colombian society.
Barn dances are the product of our colonial ancestors who recreated
them from England's Country Dances. They were performed in halls and
barns as get-togethers among America's first social gatherings.
Afro-Brazilian jam sessions. In the Batuque the dancers form a circle
around one performer. This solo dancer chooses his successor for the
exhibition spot while shouting the word "Sama."
BEGUINE: A type of Rumba in which the accent is on the second eighth note of the first beat. Origins spring from Martinique and Cuba.
This dance originated in a church in South Carolina which had been
turned into a black nightclub called the "Big Apple." Mr. Arthur Murray
did the choreography as we know it. The dance includes all the earlier
Swing steps and requires a caller. The caller shouts "Shine" and asks
for one of the swing steps. A single couple steps into the center and
takes the initiative by performing an exhibition of that popular step.
This dance was very popular in the 1930's.
Created in New York, circa 1926. This dance succeeded the Charleston.
It may have originally come from New Orleans as did Jazz music. The
stomping steps, the knee sway and the shuffling are definitely African
American in origin. It was the black solo or couple dance about 1925.
Originally a Spanish dance in 3/4 time, it was changed in Cuba
initially into 2/4 time then eventually into 4/4. It is now present as
a very slow type of Rumba rhythm. The music is frequently arranged with
Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually implemented with
Conga or Bongos.
Just what the name implies. It starts as a Bolero and finished as a
Son. The Son is faster, with sharper percussion and is less subtle than
African American jazz dance. The knees are held close together and the
hips sway from side-to-side as the dancer travels forward. This figure
is now seen in a variety of rhythm dances including Mambo, Cha Cha and
A dance similar to the Lambeth Walk. The dancers bump hips at regular
intervals. It is performed in Waltz time to one special tune. 1940.
BOSTON JIVE: This is a form of Swing similar to basic Lindy but with kicks added.
The music was born of a marriage of Brazilian rhythms and American
Jazz. The dance, which is said to have originated at Carnegie Hall in
1961, is based on the slower, more subtle Salon Samba and features
either type of Clave Beat or a Jazz Samba in 4/4 time.
BOTECITA: The "Little Boat." It is Cuban dancing with a very exaggerated swaying of the shoulders.
A Spanish Gypsy dance. Livelier and more spirited than most of the
repertoire. It's usually danced by a whole group and could be called a
This dance resembles the Conga line but has three jumps instead of a
kick at the end of the phrase. The music is Ray Anthony. 1953.
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CAKE WALK: The
Cake Walk is said to have originated in Florida about 1880. The style
of walking was practiced by the African Americans as an art. The
dignity of the promenade was rewarded by a prize, usually a cake. The
winner cut the cake and shared it with the others.
The music of the typical ballads in England sung by the natives of
Trinidad. There was no real dance but because of the extreme popularity
of the music, in 1956, possibly due to the singer Harry Bellafonte,
many steps were created. Most of them resemble the Cuban Bolero or the
Martinique Beguine or even Swing.
In Paris about 1890 a dance caused quite a stir. It was the Can Can.
Women kicked their black silk stocking legs high into the air - a most
daring feat for the time. The Can Can may have been an off-shoot of the
Polka or even the Quadrille, or both. Today it is a music hall routine
danced only by women.
A native of Rio de Janeiro. Also the abbreviation of the Brazilian
dance, the Samba Carioca. At the Carioca Carnival, from the moment the
music starts until it dies off, people get together in cordoes (chains
or cues). Holding hands in this fashion they sing and sway their bodies
to the Samba-Carioca and the Marchas.
A very popular Swing style from Virginia down through the Carolinas
into areas of Georgia. Most often danced to "Beach Music" performed by
such groups as the Tams, The Embers, The Drifters and a wide range of
"Motown" recording artists. The dance showcases the man and resembles
West Coast Swing with the same slot movement, shuffles, coaster steps
and pronounced lean resulting in role of the partner movement. The
music tempo is slow to medium and can be danced comfortably by all ages.
The Castle Walk was first greeted and demonstrated at the Cafe de Paris
in France by Irene & Vernon Castle in 1913 and introduced to New
York society by then in 1914. The dance was characterized by a series
of walking steps on the toes, executed with an elegant type of swagger
- frequently punctuated with a light hop in attitude at an appropriate
point in the musical phase.
From the less inhibited night clubs and dance halls the Mambo underwent
subtle changes. It was triple mambo, and then peculiar scraping and
shuffling sounds during the "tripling" produced the imitative sound of
Cha Cha Cha. This then became a dance in itself. Mambo or triple Mambo
or Cha Cha as it is now called, is but an advanced stage in
interpretive social dancing born of the fusion of progressive American
and Latin music.
A Mexican Folk dance from the province of Chiapas. Its popularity is
due to the charming air plus the audience participation during the time
the dancers request the audience to clap hands with them. It is in 3/4
time and based on Spanish patterns.
Originated in the early 20's in illegal drinking places during the time
of prohibition. The combination of a particular type of jazz music and
the highly polished, slippery floors of the Speakeasies gave rise to an
in and out flicking of the feet which essentially characterized the
dance. It was theatricized and embellished with typical vaudeville
moves in a Ziegfield Follies production in 1921. It has since been
featured in many films and theater productions, its most platant
revival being its utilization within the Broadway musical "The Boy
A freestyle dance style originating in the Blue Ridge Mountains
characterized by double time stomping and tap steps resembling a tap
dance with the upper body held straight and upright.
COMPARSA: Afro-Cuban dance play.
An African-Cuban dance characterized by the extreme violence of accents
on the strong beats in 2/4 time. The Conga beat thus used has a
rhythmic anticipation of the second beat in every other measure. The
Conga was very popular in the late thirties. It was performed in a
formation known as the Conga chain. The steps are simple, one, two,
three, kick at which time the partners move away from each other.
CONTINENTAL OR INTERNATIONAL TANGO:
A refined, technical version of the Argentine Tango. It is probably the
most demanding of all smooth dances to execute. It calls for perfect
control, phrasing and musicianship. The subtle movements, changes of
weight and the design of the steps are never stilted but follow the
melodic phrasing and are created anew with each new piece.
CONTRE DANSE: A French square dance in double time, introduced into the court about 1600. Forerunner of the Country Dance.
The musical ballads called the Corridos play a very important part in
Latin American musical life. The words are often topical and relate to
political events. It has been suggested that the word Corrido is
derived from the word correr, to run, because the singer has to run for
his life when caught in the process of reciting a subversive ditty.
Corridos are particularly popular in Mexico.
A Country & Western dance enjoyed throughout the United States and
elsewhere for its enthusiastic music and energetic movements.
Characteristic movements include kicks, stomps, shuffles, and turns in
place or traveling around the room. The man and the lady generally
begin in shadow position with the left foot and they use the same foot
on the same beat of music throughout their patterns.
English Folk dances as opposed to the court dances of bygone times.
During the Colonial days of America these Country dances became our
present day square dance, jig reels, as well as our Virginia Reel,
Arkansas Traveler and Paul Jones.
COUNTRY WESTERN 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 hard 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 all over the
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DANZON: A Cuban
dance which starts slowly and gradually accelerates at certain melodic
intervals between chorus and verse: the dancers stop to talk but remain
on the floor until a certain beat tells them to resume their dances.
This dance, which might be called a Rumba variation is in a 4/4 time.
Its stately music is popular in the tropics because it is not
strenuous. It is know as the aristocrat of all Cuban dancing because of
its dignified and stately appearance.
A general style of very intimate closed position partner dancing
popularized in the late 80's by Actor/Dancer Patrick Swayze in the
movie "Dirty Dancin'". Danced to popular fast or slow music and
characterized by sensuous and seductive movements by both man and woman.
The dance of the Dominican Republic is 2/4 time with syncopation of the
first beat interpreted by the dancers as a slight limp. It became
popular in 1957.
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ENGLISH TANGO: The
style is the same as the other English Competition dances, and the
steps are not too unlike Fox Trot steps with a few Latin flourishes as
interpreted by English dance teachers.
ESCONDIDO: An Argentine dance called Escondido (literally hidden for in it the female partner hides from the male) belongs to the Gato type rhythmically and choreographically.
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FADO: Originally a
Portuguese song and dance absorbed by Latin America and especially by
Brazil as a pattern for the Samba. The steps of the Fado are based on a
hop, a skip and a kick in 2/4 time. It makes a charming exhibition folk
Most important of the modern Spanish dances, for couples. The dance
begins slowly and tenderly, the rhythm marked by the clack of
castanets, snapping of fingers, and stomping of feet. The speed
gradually increases to a whirl of exhilaration. There is a sudden pause
in the music toward the end of each figure when the dancers stand rigid
in the attitude caught by the music. They move again only when the
music is resumed. This is also characteristic of Seguidillas, similar
A dance Haute from Provence, France. A typical variation was a quick
gallop step danced by a procession winding in and out in single file,
headed by a musician who played a drum and fife at the time skipping
along without losing a beat. 6/8 or 4/4 time.
The dance of Spain most suited to a man. It is a pure Gypsy dance in
2/4 time consisting of heel work, fast double turns and falls. It is
considered one of the most exciting of all the same Flamenco dances.
A popular dance done to Fox Trot music in 4/4 time (New Orleans jazz
type music) whereby the dancers rock their pelvis forward and back
balancing on one foot and then the other in a slow gyrating manner.
Originated in 1961.
Said by some to have been originated by Harry Fox (1913). It is now a
standard ballroom dance the world over and serves as a good foundation
for social dances in 2/4 or 4/4 time. NOTE: See also Two Step.
Ad lib dance movements with no fixed structure. Danced without touching
partner to a variety of music styles including Rock 'n Roll, and
The Frug was born from a dance called the Chicken which had a lateral
body movement and was used as a change of pace during the Twist. So as
the kids grew lazier they decided to do less work, and started moving
only their hips while standing still. As the hips swing from side to
side they started making up arm movements for the dance. From this came
the Swim, the Monkey, the Dog, the Watusi, the Waddle or Wabble and the
Jerk. Some of these dances are named with localities. What we call the
Frug is often called the Surf, Big Bea and Thunderbird, with the Swim
being born out of it. What we call the Watusi is also known as Wabble
and Waddle. The Monkey, Dog, Bump and Jerk fall roughly into the same
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seems to take credit as the birthplace of the Galop. It was an old time
dance, often introduced at the Country dances or following a Volte and
Contra Danse as a contrast to their slow and somewhat monotonous steps.
In 2/4 time, it was a springy step with a glissade and a chasse.
Argentine dance performed by two couples. In rhythm it resembles a very
fast Waltz in steady quarter notes. A very popular form is the Gato con
Pelaciones - that is Gato with stories. The stories are the diversified
content; amorous, philosophical or political.
This dance comes from France. During the 16th Century it was customary
for the leading couple to kiss each other and everyone else in the room
at the end of their special "Shine". It finally became a stage dance.
Although it has a long and varied history it is still charming and has
been used by modern composers for chamber music.
In this dance the woman threw and wrapped herself around her partner in
what at that time 1900-1910 must have been most shocking. A
disappointingly simple ragtime dance followed its daring overture.
This dance was originally a Andalusian dance derived from Sevillanos.
This dance which was played in 3/4 or 6/8 time was a Cuban Country
dance as well, performed in Conga rhythm to the music marked Son
Guajira. In ballroom terminology a Rumba is slow to medium tempo, or
danced as a very slow Cha Cha, with subtle body movements.
This lively Cuban song and dance of Spanish origin is performed in 2/4
time and danced by the more expert and agile dancers only, as its speed
is rather imposing. a) An old Spanish dance in two sections. One is
lively triple and the other in double. It originally was played in 4/4
time. b) A modern Rumba usually played very fast.
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Haitian music stems directly from African rhythms. Divested of
mysticisms, its traditions and beliefs from the folkloric basis from
which the Haitian Merengue derived. It is simple and smooth in its slow
version and can be colorful and exciting in its faster forms.
The Mexican Haupango is ultimately traced to the Spanish Son, but its
rhythm is definitely of the New World. The Haupango combines 2/4 time
with 3/4 time and 6/8 time, creating cross rhythms of great complexity.
It makes a most interesting lively dance.
This dance is reputed to have developed in Boston. Apparently, the
dance masters who were responsible for the evening's program at society
functions gained favor with their socialite clients by imposing as much
restraint as possible on the dances and creating an obviously reserved
interpretation. The Waltz, in particular, became a target of this type
of constraint and what was considered to be a flamboyant expression, at
that time, induced by the blatant rotation of the dance was effectively
curbed by taking a step and hesitating for two beats before proceeding
with a conventional Waltz figure or another hesitation. The dance was
introduced to New York society by Vernon Castle between 1911 and 1914.
It was later standardized by Arthur Murray who taught it as a
fundamental social dance for several decades giving some of the figures
such names as the Yale, the Biltmore and the Arthur Murray Turn.
Originally a sacred dance of Hawaii supposedly created by the younger
volcano Kala to please his sister Pele. In due time its varied
interpretation also served to please the visiting sailors which did not
please the missionaries who promptly banned it. Despite this blight, it
has revived and is now more popular than ever. It is in 4/4 meter,
interprets stories by the use of arms, hands and facial expression. The
basic step is a chasse' during which the hips undulate.
HUSTLE OR SWING HUSTLE:
A number if similar style disco dances which had its beginning in the
mid-70's and enjoys some continuing popularity as a swing style today.
The record "Do The Hustle" was followed by the movie "Saturday Night
Fever." The movie portrayal of partner dancing by John Travolta to the
popular beat of top selling music from the Bee Gees and the
introduction to America of the Discotheque setting, popular for some
years in Europe, took America by storm. Flashing lights, mirrors
everywhere, loud throbbing beat, and high fashion were in. Large
numbers of popular Discos sprang up in every city and everyone was
waiting in line to dance.
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IBO: The Ibo
rhythm belongs to the faster Haitian Merengue group of dancers. It is
colorful, native in style and can be classified as "Caribbean dancing."
A pronounced movement of hips and turning of the head is typical.
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Jarabes are typical Mexican Folk dances. Usually done by a couple, it
depicts a flirtation and conquest. It is well known in America by its
other name, "The Mexican Hat Dance." The Mexican Jarabe is a descendant
of the Spanish Zapateado, and its rhythm resembles that of a Mazurka.
It is in 3/4 time.
Folk dance of Yucatan, Mexico. It is possibly closer to the
melo-rhythmic foundation of the ancient Mexican songs than any other
native air. The verses of the Jarana are often in the Mayan language.
The word Jarana means merry chatter. It is exciting in its rhythm based
on a combination of 6/8 and 3/4 time. As an exhibition ballroom dance
it can be placed alongside La Raspa and La Bamba, its cousins.
JITTERBUG: A toned down version of a Lindy Hop which is faster and happier than the American Rock 'n' Roll or Swing.
International competitive Swing dance with elements of the Lindy Hop
and Jitterbug. Characterized by uptempo single time music danced with
triple steps done primarily on the toes with very lively movement.
JOTA: Native folk dance Aragon, Spain. Performed usually by one or more couples and consisting of hoppy steps in 3/4 time.
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KANKUKUS: Afro-Brazilian dances of the Mestiso Indians.
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LA CUECA: La Cueca
is a Chilian dance written in 6/8 time with the accompaniment in 3/4
time. Originally it was danced with handkerchiefs only, but during
recent years it has enjoyed popularity on the ballroom floor.
A Mexican dance from Vera Cruz, which reminds us of our own square
dancing except that it has a peculiar hopping step of its own. It has
enjoyed a well merited popularity for a number of years as a fun dance.
Americanized version of traditional Varsouvienne which was originally
from Warsaw. Has established but varying versions in different parts of
the country. Patterns differ from, yet show close kinship to,
Varsouvienne of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Popular among Western
cowboys and South Western sections where it is known as the "Little
Foot." Made popular as a ballroom dance by Arthur Murray in 1940. It is
also known as the Varsovien.
This dance craze had its roots from the Northeast Coast of
Brazil. The exciting look of this dance on European television took the
Continent by storm in the late 80's. Introduced to the U.S. by Arthur
Murray personnel, its lighthearted Brazilian/Caribbean beat combines
the flavor of the Samba with the sultry passion of the Rumba.
The Lambeth Walk is a walking dance done in a jaunty, strutting
fashion. It was originally an old English step performed in the
Limehouse district of London and danced to the song "Doing the Lambeth
Walk." This dance was introduced into the United States about 1937 by
The quadrille of the Lancers was a set dance or single dance invented
by a dancing master in Paris about 1836. England took it up and it was
fashionable for a number of years in polite society there.
History has us believe this dance to be a product of Vienna and more
than one hundred years old. It had a lusty Waltz flavor but was not a
closed ballroom dance but rather belonged to the Country dance group.
It is said by some authorities that with the passage of time the
Landler became the basis for our modern Waltz.
LATIN AMERICAN DANCES:
These are essentially divided into two categories: 1) The authentic,
traditional dances that fall lately into the domain of the folkloric,
many of these dances vary from region-to-region, and generally involve
a rhythmic character as opposed to a set of choreographic distinctions.
2) The standardized expression of popular Latin dances embraced by
cultures other than Hispanic, such as the Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba,
Bolero, Mambo and Paso Doble. These dances are danced both on a social
and competitive level. The choreography of Latin America dances varies
greatly according to region and time. However, it is possible to
indicate the principal types of choreographic figures described in such
terms as amorous dances, in which the partners hold each other closely,
handkerchief dances, in which the partners dancing apart from each
other wave handkerchiefs, and so on. Ten principal may thus be
established: they are: 1. Amorous dances such as Rumba, Merengue,
Tango, and Milonga. 2. Handkerchief dances, such as Bailecito,
Marinera, Sanjuanito and Zamacueca. 3. Finger snapping dances: Gato,
Chacarera, Jarana. 4. Street dances: Choros, Guajira, Guaracha. 5.
Pursuit dances: Fimeza, Escondido, Bambuco, Jarabe. 6. Square dances:
Perican, Punto, Mejorana. 7. Rustic dances: Ranchera, Pasillo, Joropo.
8. Ritual dances: Jongo, Macumba. 9. Carnival dances: Samba, Conga. 10.
Topical ballads: Corrido, Zandunga, Calypso.
LINDY HOP: Named
by Ray Bolger, after Colonel Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic.
This Swing had as much "getting into the air" as possible. However, the
violently acrobatic style used for exhibitions is not the same as the
quietly rhythmic Lindy enjoyed by good dancers on the ballroom floor.
The rhythmic patterns takes place over two measures of music. The more
acrobatic versions were limited to ballrooms of which the most famous
was the New York's Savoy Harlem. NOTE: At one time the Jitterbug
included the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shag and Lindy Hop. It has now
been consolidated into Lindy Hop in Eastern U.S. and on the West Coast
the West Coast Swing.
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MACUMBO: An African Brazilian ritual and like dances belonging to it.
The fusion of Swing and Cuban music produced this fascinating rhythm
and in turn created a new sensational dance. The Mambo could not have
been conceived earlier since up until that time Cuba and the American
Jazz were still not wedded. The Victor records of Anselmo Sacaras
entitled "Mambo" in 1944 were probably the beginning and since then
other Latin American bandleaders such as Tito Rodriguez, Pupi Campo,
Tito Puente, Perez Prado, Machito and Xavier Cugat have achieved
styling of their own and furthered the Mambo craze. The Mambo was
originally played as any Rumba with a riff ending. It may be described
as a riff or a Rumba with emphasis on the fourth beat 4/4' time.
Originally played by some musicians in 2/4 time with a break or
emphasis on 2 and 4. Native Cubans or dancers, without any training
would break on any beat. MARCHA: Latin American counterpart of our
Popular ballroom dance of the island of St. Lucia and Martinique. It is
characterized by the rocking back and forth of the hips while the girl
throws her arms around her partner's neck. His arms loosely clasp her
about the waist. The steps have been incorporated in both the Haitian
Merengue and Calypso.
A Brazilian dance first introduced in Paris in 1912. It is in 2/4 time
of rapid tempo with a slight syncopation. In this dance strict
attention must be paid to the carriage of the head and the posturing of
The Mazurka is a Polish dance. In Russia the Polonaise opened the ball,
and the Mazurka ended it. In the Mazurkathe couples follow the leader
in circular formation around the room. Sometimes the woman kneels down
while her partner executes a chasse around her, and then this figure is
MENTO: The most popular native dance of Jamaica which resembles a Rumba played in slow tempo.
The Milonga is a Spanish dance first originated in Andalusia. As the
fascinating music traveled the world it assumed various aspects. In
Buenos Aires the Gauchos danced it in what is called a closed position,
in the lower class cafes. Here their interpretation of it emerged into
what today is our Tango. The Milonga enjoyed a popular resurgence some
years ago through the Juan Carlos Copes group who performed it the
It was a carefree and lively dance until presented by the French court
in 1650. There it developed into a slow and stately dance, elegant in
its simplicity. It consists of a salute to the partner, a high step and
a balance, and affords numerous opportunities for an exchange of
courtly gestures, bows and curtsies.
A form of dance as developed by Martha Graham, Haya Holm, Doris
Humphyre, Charles Weidman and others. It expresses complex emotions and
Among the Brazilian dances there is the Modinha which is the diminutive
of Moda (Mode or Style) and is directly derived from the Portuguese
songs and dances of that name. The early Modinhas were greatly
influenced by Italian music. The present day Modinhas are sentimental
in mood and similar to the Cuban Boleros.
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ONE-STEP: A dance
that consisted entirely of chasses without any change in rhythm. It was
danced to the popular music of the period encompassing World War I.
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Quadrille is a "Set" dance. It consists of a series of dance figures,
the most frequently used is called the "Flirtation" figure, in which
the man dances with each woman in turn.
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," the other three
being the Slow Fox Trot, the Waltz, the Tango and the Viennese Waltz.
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ROCK 'N' ROLL: A
popular form of the Swing or Lindy Hop. Began as a dance done mostly by
teenagers who were fans of artists like Elvis Presley and the Beatles.
Country dances in America became Barn dances, Square dances, and Round
dances. These all have figures in common and require a caller.
The Rumba was originally a marriage dance. Many of its movements and
actions which seem to have an erotic meaning are merely depictions of
simple farm tasks. The shoeing of the mare, the climbing of a rope, the
courtship of the rooster and the hen, etc. It was done for amusement on
the farms by the black population of Cuba. However, it became a popular
ballroom dance and was introduced in the United States about 1933. It
was the Americanized version for the Cuban Son and Danzon. It is in 4/4
time. The characteristic feature is to take each step without initially
placing the weight on that step. Steps are made 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 "Cuban Motion."
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SALSA: This is a
favored name for a type of Latin music which, for the most part, has
its roots in Cuban culture and is enhanced by jazz textures. The word,
Salsa, means sauce denoting a "hot" flavor and is best distinguished
from other Latin music styles by defining it as the New York sound
developed by Puerto Rican musicians in New York. The dance structure is
largely associated with mambo type patterns and has a particular
feeling that is associated mainly with the Clave and the Montuno.
This Brazilian dance was first introduced in 1917 but was finally
adopted by Brazilian society in 1930 as a ballroom dance. It is
sometimes referred to as a Samba, Carioca, a Baion or a Batucado. The
difference is mostly in the tempo played since the steps in all three
dance are very similar. The style is to bounce steadily and smoothly in
2/4 meter. They say that the Samba was introduced in the United States
in 1939 by the late Carmen Miranda.
One of the most ancient court dances of the 16th century. It was a
stately affair during which couples paraded forwarded for four steps
and then back of four steps in an endless variety of patterns according
to the number of couples taking part.
A dance similar to the Polka. It is characterized by the clapping of
hands after having taken three hopping steps. It is written in 4/4 time.
Spanish folk dance consisting of seven "Coplas." Each Copla is a little
dance in itself divided into three parts and consisting of twelve
measures of music. Each part begins with an "Entrada" and ends with a
"Pasada". It is performed by couples and furnished an excellent
foundation for all forms of Spanish dance.
Not to be confused with the Carolina Shag which is a slow laid back
type of Swing, became popular in the late 30's along with the Jitterbug
and Lindy Hop. The dance was done to uptempo Swing or Foxtrot music and
was instantly recognizable by the flicking of the feet backwards with a
pronounced hopping action.
started as an African American dance of the late 1880's. It is a
shaking of the shoulders and a whole body. First recreated by Gilda
SHIM SHAM: A lazy shuffling "soft shoe" step produced by the dancers at the Old Cotton Club in Harlem.
Cuban dance similar to the Bolero except that it is wilder in rhythmic
accent and more violent in step pattern. It is the Son which first
served as a basis for the Mambo which in turn became the triple Mambo,
now known as Cha Cha. This slow rhythmic dance was originally in 2/4
time. It became Americanized and is usually played in 4/4 time.
SPANISH WALTZ: A smoothly danced waltz in open position using the arm movements of the classic Spanish dance.
Danced during Colonial days and now a part of our Barn Dances which
include such names as Reels, Arkansas Traveler, Round Dance, etc.
is a figure in which the hands are clasped in front of the body at knee
level with the body poised forward from the waist and the dancer moving
sideways with the arms swinging in opposition. It was popularized by
Vaudeville Entertainers and used in many types of routines eventually
achieving most of its fame when it was incorporated into tap routines
at the Cotton Club in Harlem in the 30's.
An ever popular blend of several African American dances, which include
Lindy and Ragtime Jazz and Blues, as well as all the other dance music
to accompanying dances of the past ninety years. Today it generally
refers to the ballroom and night club version which is based on two
slow and two quick counts or the slow and two quick counts of rhythm
One of the three chief English dances of Medieval times. It was a
ritualistic and ceremonial drama danced by men with swords and
elaborate costumes while parading through the streets. It depicted the
death of the old year, of Winter, and of scarcity. It heralded in the
New Year, with hope of Spring and plenty. To symbolize the death of
Winter, someone must always "die" and be brought to life again as a
portrayal of death and resurrection.
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Continental/English - See INTERNATIONAL TANGO There are essentially
three types of Tango - Argentine, American and International Style.
Argentine Tango: (arrabalero) A dance created by the Gauchos in Buenos
Aires. It was actually an attempt on their part to imitate the Spanish
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. American Tango: Unlike the Argentine Tango, in
which the dancer interprets the music spontaneously without any
predetermined slows or quicks, the American Tango features a structure
which is correlated to the musical phrasing. The dance is executed both
in closed position and in various types of extravagant dance
relationships which incorporate a particular freedom of expression that
is not present in the International style. International Tango: This is
a highly disciplined and distinctively structured form of the Tango
which is accepted worldwide as the format for dancesport events. The
dancers remain in traditional closed position throughout and expresses
both legato and staccato aspects of the type of music appropriate to
EVOLUTION OF THE TANGO: The
history of the Tango can be traced surprisingly enough to a country
dance of 17th Century England. The English country dance became the
CONTREDANSE in France, and this in turn was called the CONTRADANZA in
Spain or later simply DANZA. When imported by the Spaniards into Cuba,
it became the DANZAHABANERA. During the Spanish American War, a popular
dance called the Habanera del Cafe appeared which was the prototype of
the Tango. The whole genealogy is presented in the following
chronological table: Country Dance England1650 Contredanse France1700
Contradanza Spain1750 Danza Spain 1800 Danza Habanera Cuba1825 Habaner
1850 Habanera del Cafe 1900 Tango 1910
Italian folks dance. Sometimes a single dancer gets up and spins alone
until a partner joins in. Sometimes several couples stand up together,
like a country dance set, although pairs dance individually. Girls use
TRUCKIN: An African American form of shuffling along while shaking the index finger of the fight hand above the head. Popular in 1937.
TURKEY TROT: The
Turkey Trot was a dance done to fast ragtime music popular in the
decade from 1900 to 1910 such as Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, etc.
The basic step consisted of four hopping steps sideways first on one
leg, then the other. It achieved popularity chiefly as a result of its
being denounced by the Vatican. The dance was embellished with
scissor-like flicks of the feet and fast trotting actions with abrupt
This dance was written by an African American musician in Georgia in
1958. He and his band members made up some twisting movements for the
musicians to do while playing the music. Then in 1960, Chubby Checker
made his first twist record, and made the Twist famous in Philadelphia.
Twist came to New York via Philadelphia and New Jersey and then spread
throughout most countries.
TWO-STEP: The Two-Step is a simple dance, more or less double quick march with a skip in each step done as rapidly as a couple can go
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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.
VIRGINIA REEL: One of the more popular of the Colonial Barn Dances.
The Volte was like the Landler, a forerunner of the Waltz. It was
brought to the French court by Catherine de Medici. In it the man turns
his partner around several times and then helps her to take a high
spring into the air.
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WALTZ: The real
origin of the Waltz is rather obscure, but a dance of turns and glides,
leaping and stomping appeared in various parts of Europe at the end of
the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. In Italy it was the Volta,
France has its Volte, Germany the Weller and Austria had its Landler.
These were round dances but at the end of the dance itself there was a
short period in which the circle would break up into couples who would
whirl madly round and round and finish with a jump in the air. In the
Landler the hopping gave way more to a gliding motion and that is why
it is considered the forerunner of the Waltz. The Waltz can be traced
back as far as 400+ years. The Waltz regained its real popularity in
the 20th century. The Waltz blossomed out as the Hesitation Waltz in
1913. Until the development of the hesitation, couples had waltzed in
one direction until dizzy and then reversed until ready to drop. The
Waltz had degenerated into an endurance contest. The Hesitation
resulted in the Waltz it is done today. The slow Waltz was once known
as the Boston Waltz. Today the slow Waltz is the American Waltz,
English Waltz or just Waltz, and the faster is the Viennese Waltz.
WEST COAST SWING:
A stylized Swing dance popular west of the Mississippi from Kansas to
California. Danced in a slot to medium to slow Swing or Disco music and
characterized by slot movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and
push and pull action of the dancers.
XONGO: (CHAN GO) A dance of the Macumba ritual in Brazil. It is in honor of the jungle god Xango.
XTOLES: (CHI TOL LES) The Mayan Warriors dance of Mexico.
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YAQUI INDIAN DANCES:
Dances of the Indians of Sonora, Mexico, among which El Venado is the
most popular. It depicts the fascination of a young deer for a
campfire. He finally loses his life by jumping into it.
Ritual dance of the Indians of the Amazon basin said to protect the
young male dancers against feminine seduction. The rites of Yurupari
are held by the Indians in the jungles of Brazil. The African
Brazilians practice their fetishistic ritual of the macumba from which
stem many Brazilian dance patterns. The Spanish and Portuguese
contribute the rituals of their Christian religion and all three now
have enriched the dances we learn and enjoy in the ballroom.
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ZAMBRA: The Zambra
has a definitely Moorish origin. Prizes were given to the youth who
could dance the Best Zambra with his Moorish maiden during the
Caliphate of Cordoba. Today it is the dance of the Gitano women of
The songs and dances in Waltz time of Southern Mexico. The lyrics tell
a story and more often funny situations between persons are rhymed and
The Spanish and Flamenco dances of Spain in which rhythmic patterns are
made with the heel and ball of Filigrano. Also a man's dance which
consists purely of intricate stomping.
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