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4 Styles Of Ballroom Dancing

Ballroom dancing has been a recreational and social tradition for hundreds of years, and in more recent years has even transitioned into having a competitive scene that many enjoy participating in or even just watching.

So ballroom dancing is and has been an important part of society for a very long time now, but there are many different varieties of it that need to be appreciated. In honor of all the varieties, today we’ll be discussing four different styles of this art that is ballroom dancing.

There are much more than four styles, but these are some of the more classic dances that you’re more likely to see done. And who knows, after this article you might even want to learn them yourself.

#1 – The Waltz

History –

The Waltz was introduced in the 18th century, and was quite scandalous at the time due to the embracing couples. It was really popular in the 19th century for the first time and maintained that same popularity in the 20th century. Now it is one of the easiest dances to learn for beginners, and is a popular choice for first dancing at weddings.

Characteristics –

Characteristics of the Waltz are step, slide, and step in ¾ time. There’s lots of swaying and “rise and fall” turns in this dance which give it a very elegant feeling. People dancing the Waltz will also keep their shoulders parallel to the floor rather than vertical to it.

Variations –

There are different variations of this dance including the Viennese Waltz, International Style Waltz, and the classic American Waltz. The American Waltz is unique in the way that the pair of dancers can move through closed and open dance positions, so the duo can move away from each other unlike with other Waltz variations.

Extra Note –

The Waltz is also classified as a “smooth” dance in American style dancing, and it shares this category with dances like the Viennese Waltz, the Tango, and the Foxtrot. Overall the Waltz is a beautiful dance with a lot of history, and it truly is one of the best beginner-friendly dances to learn if you’re interested in ballroom dancing yourself.

#2 – The Foxtrot

History –

This dance is one of the most popular ballroom dances of all time, but it was introduced to the world a bit more recently than the Waltz. It was officially introduced in the 1920s, and many think that it originated from African American nightclubs before Vernon and Irene Castle led to it being popularized.

Characteristics –

Some of this dance’s traits are similar to the Waltzz since they are both “smooth” style dances, but the Foxtrot is set apart by its unique combination of fast and slow steps based on the tempo of the song. Longer steps are taken slowly and as the music speeds up the steps get shorter and quicker.

Variations –

With certain choreography and depending on the dancers themselves, there can be variation within every dance style, but the main two variations of the Foxtrot are the social Foxtrot and the slow Foxtrot. The social Foxtrot is the original version and the variation that is best for beginners, while the slow Foxtrot is more complex.

Extra Note –

The music typically associated with the Foxtrot is big band swing-style music. The tempo is normally around 120 to 136 beats per minute and it’s most commonly written in 4/4 time. So if you enjoy dancing to this type of music then the Foxtrot might be the perfect dance for you to learn.

#3 – The Tango

History –

As with a lot of ballroom dances, the Tango was originally only found within lower-class establishments. Its place of origin seems to be Buenos Aires in Argentina, but by 1915 it was becoming popular in all of Europe and only gained popularity from there. It was first introduced to America in New York in 1910.

Characteristics –

One of the Tango’s trademarks is the seductive quality of the dance and the cat-like, almost stalking movement and steps. Other main traits are a close hold and a low center of gravity. And one more quality that differentiates this dance from other smooth dances is that the lead’s arm is farther down on the follower’s back.

Variations –

The Tango might have one of the most well-known variations of any ballroom dance, The Argentine Tango. The Argentine Tango is actually sometimes called the “traditional Tango” because it is so close to the original version, and the ballroom Tango that you see the most often now isn’t as traditional.

Extra Note –

The Tango is a ballroom dance that is shown a lot in the media, there are many popular movies based around it and it is featured often in reality tv shows centered around dance. For this reason, it’s a very popular dance to learn and there are many resources that you can use to do so. We also find that most of our friends enjoy this dance the most compared to the rest. Our past client and dear friend, Tim Raney from omahatubresurfacing.com, was one of our first clients to take a Tango lesson before he moved out of state. He enjoyed it so much that we now always find a club to dance the Tango in when he visits on vacation.

#4 – The Jive

History –

The Jive is more of a general term that encompasses several different dances that share similar traits and styles than it is one singular dance itself. The Jive became known during the 19th century, and in 1968 it became the fifth International Latin dance to be accepted as a competitive ballroom dancing option.

Characteristics –

This dance is the fastest of the Latin ballroom dances, and it is also the most energetic. There is less actual movement around the dancefloor than with other dances as well. Instead there are more bending, kicks, knee lifting, and rocking of the hips to give it energy while staying mostly in the same spot.

Variations –

There are a lot of variations to the Jive purely because it is a general term and a lot of dances are included in its category. Some of the more popular dances that would be referred to as a Jive would be the Lindy hop, the jitterbug, and the boogie-woogie. But note that there are many more variations as well.

Extra Note –

Since the Jive is such a happy and upbeat dance with so many variations, it’s one of the best dances to learn if you’d like to insert more of your personality into your dance. And it leaves more room for musical selection as well, because you can dance the Jive to a lot of different songs depending on preference.