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Learn 11 Popular Dance Styles, History, Basic Moves, Steps & Songs

They say that dance is a great way to express your emotions. While this may sound like such a cliché, the quote seems to have endured throughout the years mainly because there’s truth to it. It’s wise to choose an activity that encourages you to express your very own creativity. Now it all boils down to that one question: So you think you can dance? Definitely! And that’s because there’s a style available for anyone who wants to overcome the problem with their two left feet. As you glide across the expanse of the ballroom, you can now let your innermost emotions shine forth with a step that is truly representative of whom you are as a person. There are several styles to choose from and you need to know how each dance is unique from the other.

Rumba – If passion is your thing, the steamy music that goes with the rumba will certainly set you in the mood for dancing. The dancers announce their innermost emotions to the rapt audience with a series of powerful moves that match the passionate tempo of the music. The steps are slow and deliberate, as if the two dancers are out to show intimacy. Also known as the dance of love, the music is written with four beats to each step as the footwork is counted once slowly as it is followed by two quick steps. Only a small space is required with the rumba because it is, after all, meant to express true passion. Learn more about Rumba.

Cha Cha – Some dance steps can be little confusing because they can be very similar with the other styles of dancing. The Cha Cha, however, is hard to miss. There are three distinct steps involved, and usually, partners are either asked to face each other or stay side by side. This is usually danced using upbeat sounds as both the boy and the girl must exude flamboyance and playfulness. Those new to dancing may have an easier time learning it when they consider the rock-rock-side-close-side count. Dancers are usually asked to change weight only between beats, bit if lively is what you want, you’ll certainly get this with the Cha Cha. Learn more about Cha Cha.

Swing – Dancing the Swing usually involves the male dancer and his partner to begin the steps standing at about a 45 degree angle to each other. This means that they mirror each other’s stance before the music begins. Basic footwork entails the first triple step, then the second triple step, and the last rock step to conclude the movement. Although it may not be as passionate as the other dances, it is definitely gaining resurgence because of its fun and playful nature. Plus, you can incorporate a lot of styles to the dance, depending on how you want to look. And as simple as it may seem, the Swing has a certain appeal to those who want to express their talent.  Learn more about Swing.

Salsa – Salsa: the name itself indicates that the dance is meant to be saucy and flirty. This type of dancing doesn’t require the use of a large dance floor. Instead, the man and woman hold each other closely and move in a fixed spot on the floor. The salsa is comprised of an eight-beat routine with quick music that may be a little tricky to follow, that is, without the proper tutelage. The dance routine usually starts with three steps and then a skipped step or a tap on the fourth beat. These are, of course, just the basic moves. Creativity comes into play as you combine movies from the different Latin American countries. Add a little more attitude for that extra zing, and you’ve got it down to perfection! Learn more about Salsa.

Waltz – If there’s a dance that simply looks classic, that would be the waltz. Bridal parties and formal events usually include this in their repertoire. What it lacks in passion and fizz, it more than makes up for its romanticism. There is a simple and easy-to-follow pattern that helps you move gracefully and effortlessly throughout the dance floor. This is the most common dance choice for weddings because no other dance can provide the dreamy fairy tale feel that is just purely and utterly romantic. Many believe that this is the perfect dance to symbolize the life in store for those who have decided to live in harmony and in perfect union.  Learn more about Waltz.

Foxtrot – For those who want to learn ballroom dancing, the foxtrot always makes the perfect choice as the first lesson. The performance looks simply graceful and elegant, and this is why it has never lost its appeal over the years. It has four basic elements: glides, slides, long steps, and short steps. Once you learn the various movements, you’ll soon see that it has been the basis for other ballroom dances. While the movement looks simple and linear, there are turns that call for greater skills. It’s a seemingly simple dance that can become complicated. Nonetheless, people take to its romantic and emotional appeal.  Learn more about the Foxtrot.

Tango – No other dance shows as much passion as the tango. This the most sensuous dance of all because it requires both dancers to work in unison while keeping close proximity. The dance has its roots set in brothels and massage parlors as the paid women entertained the men who were waiting in line. The dance raised eyebrows back then and was even banned by the Catholic Church. But the dance started reappearing South America and in Argentina, its birthplace. Moreover, the dance looks better if a lot of legs and stockings are shown, hence its unmatched sensuality. You may call it erotic or promiscuous, but there’s no doubt that this is the ultimate dance for couples.  Learn more about the Tango.

Viennese Waltz – This is a dance that is performed to music that has three beats to the bar. While this may not mean anything to those new at dancing, professionals know that the Viennese Waltz can be very difficult and challenging for starters. Moreover, this is the oldest standard dance that comes with an extremely fast tempo and a progressive rhythm that requires a rotation of turns. Yes, every beat requires movement, and you will have to use the opposite foot for the next one. Nonetheless, people are still fascinated to the dance because once they’ve truly mastered the technique involved, you will look enchanting on the dance floor. Learn more about the Viennese Waltz.

Quickstep – This is the liveliest dance by far. The movements are fast-paced and fluid. You look almost as if you were running and jumping between beats. There is also a constant exchange of fast and slow steps. One look and you’ll certainly be impressed with the dancers because partners are required to heavily rely on each other and work in synch all throughout the dance. It follows a beat that is very much similar to a foxtrot. However, its major difference lies in the fact that the dancers should appear to be almost floating on air. You need to be light on your feet to execute a perfect quickstep. Learn more about Quickstep.

Merengue – The Merengue originated in the Dominican Republic and is danced with music that relies heavily on drums, saxophone, and guitars. Its early years was said to have begun in brothels and bars in a city called Santiago. Some also believe that it had been the dance of slaves because the footwork resembles the steps that chained people take as they walk together. Learning the Merengue is particularly important to a Salsa dancer because the steps are fairly simple. The hips move a lot here, and while the tempo of the music may be slow, the upper body looks perpetually majestic. Learn more about Merengue.

Hustle – Hail in the disco years, and as the song says, it’s time to “do the hustle.” These dances were very popular at the height of the disco, the 70’s. It has features that are similar to the swing, but it also has a salsa-like rhythm to it. The dance peaked after the famous movie, Saturday Night Live. The dancer usually jumps forward and backward, and then clicks their heel after. While most dance steps require a partnership, the hustle is a line dance that can be done either as a group or as a couple. This is especially popular for themed parties and big groups that pour in the dance floor all in legions. Learn more about the Huslte.

Bachata – A style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. It is danced widely all over the world but not identically.  There are many variations to Bachata.  Along with the Dominican style, there are modern, tango and ballroom styles.  The Modern is a traditional style with salsa, zouk, tango, ballroom, hiphop and reggaeton elements.  The tango style is the tango dance with bachata steps and vuelta. Learn more about the Bachata.


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