International style ballroom dance is enjoyed recreationally and competitively all over the world. There are ten dances in two groups that make up International ballroom dancing, or as some people like to call it DanceSport. The first group is International Standard, and the second group is International Latin.
International Standard Dances
Standard dances travel gracefully around the floor while the dancers remain in dance frame and body contact. Standard dances are smooth, elegant, and refined. The Standard group consists of Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, and Quickstep.
Waltz is a smooth progressive dance characterized by long, flowing movements, continuous turns, sway, and rise and fall. Graceful and elegant, Waltz glides around the floor almost effortlessly. The slow, expressive quality of the music often invites very powerful and dynamic movement from dancers.
International Standard Tango has its roots in Argentine Tango, but is deeply influenced by European culture and music. Danced in closed position, Tango is known for its drama, fast directional changes, and staccato movements. Tango is by far the most passionate of the Standard dances.
What is now called the Viennese Waltz is actually the original form of the Waltz. It is a truly romantic dance, most commonly thought of as the “Cinderella” Waltz. The Viennese Waltz is almost mesmerizing, as the dancers are constantly turning either toward the leader’s right or toward the leader’s left. A true Viennese Waltz consists only of turns and change steps.
Foxtrot is a dance of grace and style, which is customarily danced to Jazz, and the same Big Band music to which Swing is also danced. The Foxtrot of the Standard category is elegantly built around a slow-quick-quick rhythm. It is a smooth, progressive dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor.
Quickstep is fun and energetic, and is danced to the fastest tempo of all the ballroom dances. From its early beginning as a faster Foxtrot, the Quickstep gradually evolved into a very dynamic dance with a lot of movement on the dance floor, with many advanced patterns including hops, runs, quick steps with a lot of momentum, and rotation.
International Latin Dances
The Cha Cha is a dance of Cuban origin, but today’s International Latin Cha Cha has a style all its own. Cha Cha is fast, flirtatious, and sexy, and can be danced to Latin, Pop, Dance, and a variety of other musical styles. Cha Cha is based on Cuban Motion of the hips, and quick, precise footwork.
Samba is a fun, lively, rhythmical dance. It is related to the traditional Samba styles of Brazil, but differs from them considerably, as most steps are danced with a slight downward bouncing or dropping action. The constant circular hip movements in Samba set it apart from the other Latin dances, and give it a festive and exotic energy.
Rumba is the slowest of the five competitive International Latin dances. Rumba is a love story, it is a romantic and emotional dance. It is dynamic, with long lines and extensions, as well as Cuban Motion in the hips, and a very close connection between the dancers.
Paso Doble is a theatrical dance, and is usually quite serious and dramatic. Paso Doble is based on music played at bullfights during the bullfighters’ entrance, or during the passes just before the kill. The leader of this dance plays the part of the matador. The follower generally plays the part of the matador’s cape, the shadow of the matador, the bull, or even a flamenco dancer.
Jive is a dance style that originated in the United States with African-American social dances in the early 1930′s. Jive is a lively and uninhibited variation of the Jitterbug, a form of Swing dance. Many of its basic patterns are similar to those of East Coast Swing, with a faster rhythm, higher kicks, and far more complex footwork. The high energy and fun of Jive make it infectious and exciting.