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Ballroom & Latin: Which Style of Dance is Right for You?

Don’t know your Tango from your Foxtrot? The team at Karen Hardy Dance Studios in Chelsea fills us in on the core Ballroom and Latin dance styles…

Lead image: Latinist / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Ballroom

Waltz
The most elegant of all the ballroom dances in 3/4 time with strong accent on the first beat and a basic pattern of step-step-close. A gentle rotation will then progress into beautiful lines and more intricate moves as you master the art of swing and sway. Not to be confused with the faster Viennese Waltz.

Tango
The traditional tango is the most dramatic and sensual of the ballroom dances. With a slightly different hold, it’s famous for its staccato beats and contrast of fast and slow rhythms. This dance is characterised by long pauses and stylised body positions.

Foxtrot
Often termed the king of ballroom dances, the Foxtrot has a magical quality. Known for its long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor, it’s similar in look to the Waltz, although the rhythm is in a 4/4 time signature instead of ¾. Traditionally considered one of the more tricky ballroom dances, it’s a heady mix of subtle timing, musical accents and gorgeous body lines.

Quickstep
Take yourself to Broadway and the magic of the musicals with the ballroom dance that’s full of energy and tricky chasses, runs and flicks. Beginners, don’t be put off – the basic moves are not too far removed from a gentle slow, quick, quick, slow rhythm that’s not too difficult to master.

Latin

Cha Cha Cha
Take yourself off to Cuba with this lively, fun, cheeky and playful dance. It emphasises Cuban motion, distinguished by the chasses (cha-cha-cha) typically danced during the 4&1 counts of the music. Like all the Latin dances, it is danced in a mix of in and out of hold sequences.

Samba
Derived from Brazil, the modern Samba has become know as the party dance. In addition to distinct rhythms, samba has a signature bounce that stands it apart from the other Latin dances. It travels progressively round the floor, and to begin with you’ll learn simple forward and backward steps and rhythmic hip movements.

Rumba
Commonly called the dance of love, Rumba is the slow, sensual member of the Latin family. Characterised by a delayed transfer of weight and rhythmic hip movements it is both beautifully simplistic and yet deceptively intricate at the same time.

Jive
The fastest of the Latin dances, jive incorporates lots of kicks and flicks and is danced at 176 beats per minute. It caught on in the USA in the 1940s and was influenced by the Boogie, Rock & Roll, African/American Swing, and Lindyhop. Expect lots of spins and changes of places with your partner!



 

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