Latin American

Latin American dancing is an umbrella title for a range of dances that have been standardised for dance competitions and moulded into a universal syllabus. They include; Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba, Samba, Paso Doble and Jive. These dances, as we know them today, have all originated from popular social dances and over time have evolved some very complex step patterns with intricate and sophisticated techniques.

Brazil is the home of carnivals, beaches, football, capoeira, beautiful women…and Samba. With this dance it’s all about the rhythm. When a great piece of Samba dance music is playing loud you should feel it right in your soul and even if you haven’t learned all moves, you’ll want dance all day and night. If you don’t feel that, even just a little bit, check your pulse because there’s a good chance that you may already be dead.

With Samba you’ve got to dance down into the ground moving the body and especially rolling the hips more that you ever thought that you could. It can sometimes be a bit tricky to get going when you’re first learning this dance but you’ll soon get the hang of it and settle into the rhythm. Once past the initial stages the Samba often becomes one the favourite dance styles that anyone learns.

At Phoenix Dance Studio we teach international Samba which brings it into a partnered, rather than solo dance style. Samba being yet another dance that evolved as it moved around the world without losing sight of it’s origins.

Although it’s history stretches way back, it originally gained worldwide popularity during the 1930’s and 40’s and the musical heritage of Samba continues to be used by hip-hop artists in Brazil today and continues to be an integral part of Brazilian national identity.

The cheeky Cha Cha Cha, with its precise footwork, quick syncopated rhythm and a whole lot of hips moving all the way through, is a dance for the good times and parties.

Cha Cha Cha became one of the big dances of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s having evolved from earlier dance and musical styles. It retained the energy and life found in Mambo and Rumba but adapted the rhythms by adding a quick little syncopated beat through the music which is reflected in the dance steps and combinations.

This is one of the easiest styles to find music to dance to. You have the Cuban bands of the 1950’s influencing the sweet soul music in the 60’s that both then joined back together with a new twist during the 70’s disco era and it kept on right up to the present day. Because the Cha Cha Cha has a feel and a beat that you just want to dance to, it’s used in current chart music all the time, sometimes popping up in quite unexpected musical genres.

With a sultry slow tempo, Rumba is the dance of love. Incredibly romantic and sensual it is as beautiful to watch as it feels to dance. Although it’s one of the slow dance styles don’t think that it’s soft. There’s a lot muscles at work to achieve the perfect slinky and sexy look. Rumba requires grace control and of course intimate and highly responsive partnering.

This one is fiery and passionate. Coming from Spain with strong influences from traditional dances such as Flamenco. The Paso Doble tells the story of the bullfight with man taking on the roll of the matador and the ladies movements reflecting how he shapes with the cape and the sword. The dancers command the attention of anyone watching with inner strength and poise as they display complex sequences of steps.

This is a visually exciting dance style but be warned, Paso Doble is not one for beginners. It requires balance, a good understanding of musical timing and sense of showmanship that usually only comes with time and experience. There’s not much of a gentle learning curve either, right from the start the combinations can be quite intricate. However, all these challenges are part of what makes the Paso Doble such an exciting and unique dance style that is defiantly worth the time put in to achieve the end result.

Jive is a rock and roll dance which is part of the whole big family of Swing dance styles stretching way back to the early 20th Century that include a lot of offshoots and variations on the theme. Most of these vanish quickly and are remembered only by dance historians, but Jive has continued to grow, evolve and thrive.

The feet move fast, picking up high with loads of energy in deceptively small  and tight steps. You will bounce, spin, swivel and twist with your partner and when you’re finally finished you will know that you’ve been dancing. If your heart isn’t racing when the music stops then you weren’t doing it properly. This is not a dance if you’re feeling lazy, you’ve got be wide awake and full of life.

You can dance the Jive to music from a lot of different periods and genres (Blues, Rock, Pop, Rhythm & Blues) but it’s probably easiest to think of 1950’s and 60’s rock and roll. If you’ve got a best of Elvis album at home tucked at the back of the shelf, bring it out and get dancing.

Go top