Five Latin and five Standard Dances continue as the mainstay in DanceSport.Each of these dances is performed to the prescribed music and tempi by couples not only demonstrating the proper technique, but also poise, power and several other elements that reflect the quality of their dancing.
Latin American Dance
The five Latin dances are Samba, Cha Cha Cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive. With their heritage in Latin American (Samba, Cha Cha Cha, Rumba), Hispanic (Paso Doble) and American (Jive) cultures, they each have their distinguishing traits but coincide in expressiveness, intensity and energy.
An exuberant and flirtatious dance, it transmits all the excitement of the Rio carnival.The earliest origins of Samba are in Africa, but most of its development is from Brazil.From there it came to Europe in the late 1930s, rapidly gaining popularity due to its infectious music and lively rhythms.It is characterized by the “samba tick”, a body action that is essential to its characteristic look.Tempo is 50 – 52 bars per minute.
(2) Cha Cha Cha
Cha Cha Cha is an Afro-Cuban dance. It evolved from a combination of Cuban dances along with a version of the Mambo, another Caribbean dance that originated in Haiti as a religious ritual brought there by African slaves. Characteristic of Cha Cha Cha is the strong hip movement as a result of the straightening of the legs. Its rhythm is easily recognizable and tempo is 30 – 32 bars per minute.
Rumba is the slowest of the Latin dances and characterized by straight legs pronounced hip action and strong bodylines. It, too, is of Afro-Cuban origin and has its roots in the slavery trade. Samba is perceived as a highly sensual dance emphasizing sinuous movements of the hips and torso rather than movement of the feet. Known – rightfully or not – as the “dance of love”, it is believed to tell the age-old story of the woman’s attempt to attract, reject and ultimately dominate the man of her choice. Tempo is 25 – 27 bars per minute.
(4) Paso Doble
This dance has its narrative in the Spanish bullfight.The man assumes the role of the “torero” and the woman is his cape. They key to understanding the Paso Doble is this characterization. Often it is choreographed to the characteristic music used for the procession at the beginning of a bullfight. There are three crescendos in the music; these highlights are matched in the choreography by dramatic and theatrical poses. Tempo is 60 – 62 bars per minute.
Flicks, kicks and the strongly emphasized leg rhythms put the Jive in a league of its own when it comes to dynamism. The Jive evolved from the Jitterbug and Boggie Woogie in the 1940s. All three dances originated with the African-American community in the USA. During and after World War II, US servicemen brought them to Europe. While Jitterbug and Boogie Woogie were considered as too wild and acrobatic for what was then still “ballroom” dancing there, a tamed down Jive became instantly popular. Tempo is 42 – 44 bars per minute.
The five Standard dances are Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Slow Foxtrot and Quickstep. More formal than their Latin counterparts – and not just in terms of the athletes’ attire – they are danced in a closed position of the partners. The hold between the two partners that a Standard dance commences with is maintained throughout.
Unquestionably the best known of all Standard dances, it dates back to the 19th century. Its figures are based on upon diagonal patterns, producing a smooth, easy progression around the floor – with the couples performing numerous turns as well as pronounced rise and fall movements. Tempo is 28 – 30 bars per minute.
Tango as performed in competition developed from the Argentine original. As it became socially acceptable in Europe in the 1900s, it gradually evolved into a distinct dance – which is actually quite removed from its roots and the original form. Tango has a very different hold from the other Standard dances and projects an element of feline stealth during the walks. Tempo is 31 – 33 bars per minute.
(3) Viennese Waltz
Viennese Waltz is only rarely performed outside of the competitive environment, and there it is considered as a dance of endurance. Its figures may be danced to any Waltz played at between 58 – 62 bars per minute.
(4) Slow Foxtrot
Foxtrot made its first appearance in the United States in 1914, when New York’s African-American population danced it. The lilt of the new Foxtrot music was an overnight phenomenon and soon crossed over into England and continental Europe. The arrival of jazz music had a strong influence on the dance, generating a new step called the “jazz roll” – which developed into the three-step. Tempo is 28 – 30 bars per minute.
Quickstep originates from the 1920x, when it was developed to interpret the more sophisticated up-tempo music emerging at the time. A dance based upon walks and chasses, it has a tempo of 50 – 52 bars per minute.
(source: World DanceSport Federation)