Ballroom dancing refers to a form of dance in which couples move in accordance with patterned dancing steps. It is comprised of two major categories, namely Western and Latin style. The Western style is perhaps the more traditional form of ballroom dancing. It refers to a flowing form in which the couple is constantly moving in a circular fashion around the dance floor. The Latin style refers to a more rhythm-oriented form of dance, in which the couple’s placing is rather fixed and their moves are more energetic and sharp. Each of these forms is further divided into several sub-categories.
Western style ballroom dancing includes primarily the Waltz, the Foxtrot, the Tango, and the Quickstep:
• The Waltz is arguably the most familiar form of ballroom, originating as a folk dance. It is characterized by flowing, swaying movements, and a rise and fall pattern. The dancers circle the dance floor in a counter-clock wise movement.
• The Foxtrot became extremely popular in the 20th century, partially thanks to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, who incorporated it into their films. In its smooth and round-the-dance-floor movements it is similar to the Waltz, although it incorporates quicker steps and more flexibility.
• The Quickstep is an even faster version of the Foxtrot. Although it is considered highly energetic and quite difficult to master, the Foxtrot remains an elegant and flowing form of ballroom dancing.
• The Tango is a passionate, sensual form of ballroom dancing. Some forms of Tango are dramatic, including sharp body and head movements, whereas others tend to be more subtle. The Tango originated in South America around the late 19th century.
Latin style ballroom dances include mainly the Swing, the Rumba, the Cha Cha, the Mambo and Salsa:
• Swing is the fastest form of dance within the Latin category. It incorporates many kicks, knee-bending and lifting, swirls and other fast leg movements. The swing is unique in two respects: firstly, the couple is not required to hold each other or to be as close to each other as in other dances. Secondly, the accompanying music can vary in style from rock n’roll to Boogie-woogie, as long as it stays true to its lively, upbeat rhythm.
• The Cha Cha is a vigorous, flirtatious, energetic dance. It requires free hip motion, and small, quick steps. Cha Cha is danced to the sounds of happy, lively music — which is usually (but not necessarily) Cuban.
• The Mambo is a close relative of the Cha Cha, because of its high energy level and fun, lively spirit. It is characterized by backward and forward steps and distinctive, often sensual hip movements. Mambo music varies widely in rhythm and instruments, which usually include bells.
• The Rumba is mostly identified by the coy, teasing movements of the female dancer, and the seductive, advancing motions of the male dancer. It is the slowest form of dance within the Latin style. Its music originated in Africa, but today it includes country, rock, blues, and other popular music styles.
• Salsa is a late form of Latin dance, primarily influenced by the Cha Cha and the Mambo. While most forms of Latin style focus on hip movements, the Salsa incorporates more above-the-waist technique.
The many forms of ballroom dancing go beyond the list above. But despite their diverse nature, the dances are unified by one dominant characteristic – they are all partner dances. None of the forms can be danced alone or in an unsynchronized manner.