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Twelve ballroom dance styles you need to know

12th September 2016

Twelve ballroom dance styles you need to know
With Strictly Come Dancing back on our screens, the UK is about to go Ballroom crazy! If you're a first time Strictly watcher, or just one who doesn't have much knowledge when it comes to dance styles, then you probably won't know your Charleston from your Cha-Cha-Cha.

Luckily, Dance Near You is on hand to help. Whether you're a ballroom beginner or just an avid Strictly viewer, we can help you learn the ropes.

Strictly Ballroom!

Strictly will introduce you to TWELVE different styles of ballroom dance. Some of them might look very similar, but they've all got defining characteristics that set them apart. We'll start with a couple of the simple ones...

Waltz – The traditional Waltz is a German ballroom dance that is most easily recognised for its unprogressive style. The couple should remain embraced and not break the hold at any point in the routine, however in more modern choreographed versions this is deemed less important.

Jive – The Jive is a classic American ballroom dance. It is a very lively dance that takes its origins from swing dance. It is one of the five internationally recognised Latin ballroom dances in competition standard. The jive is fast, has lots of flicks, kicks, twists and turns and if you want a great example of it, last year's Strictly winners Jay and Aliona nailed it in Week Three with their Pulp Fiction themed routine.

Tango – The tango derives from South America. It was one of many street dances in the 1800's but fast became the most popular amongst the working classes. European immigrants took the dance worldwide and it became a phenomenon. It is a passionate dance that see's the dancers embrace to perform long, elegant steps which include kicks, lifts and drops. The footwork can be very complex.

Cha-Cha-Cha – A Cuban dance that goes hand in hand with music of the same genre. The name comes from the sound that the dancers feet make as they shuffle across the dancefloor. It is a vibrant and energetic dance style that puts a lot of focus on the hips – something common in many Latin styles.

These are the four most common Ballroom Dance styles. Past these, there are a range of others, eight of which are used on Strictly. Here's what you need to know about them:

Charleston – A personal favourite and great fun to watch or perform. Originating in South Carolina, it's a musical themed routine that came straight from Broadway in the 1920's. It's got a bit of everything, swing, tap and jazz. It's just a lot of fun and most commonly can be seen integrated into Lindy Hop.

Salsa – Arguably the most popular dance style for social dancing in the UK! People are LOVING Salsa and you can find it just about everywhere. A dance that surprisingly comes from New York but draws heavy influence from Latin America, particularly Puerto Rico. It evolved from styles such as the Mambo and the Cha-Cha-Cha. It requires a lot of upper body rhythm and weight-shifting is crucial to the success of the routine. Salsa is very flamboyant, yet easy to learn and great fun. Timing though, is everything!

Foxtrot – A smooth, American ballroom dance style that is very similar to the Waltz. It is most often danced to big band music and used in social dance events.

Quickstep - Unsurprisingly, the most obvious characteristic that defines a Quickstep... is the speed! It is fast, powerful and flowing and combines the best elements of the Foxtrot and the Charleston amongst others.

Rumba - The term “rumba” has many meanings, but in this case it's referring to the Latin American dance style that was born out of an equivalent music genre. It was born in Cuba and forms the basis for other popular dances like Salsa and Mambo. It's a fun, energetic style which is smooth and sassy in equal measure.

American Smooth – A bit like the quickstep, its main characteristic is obvious. It's smooth! It is one of the easiest ballroom styles to learn and is unique in the sense that it doesn't require partners to maintain continuous contact. This means you can expect lots of spins, turns, lifts, dips and drops! It isn't as traditional as many other styles.

Paso-Doble – It's fiery, it's powerful and it's dramatic. It's a dance choreographed on the drama of bull-fighting. The Spanish influence gives it a theatrical feel and the music that accompanies sets the atmosphere for a thrilling routine.

Argentine Tango – Passion. Romance. Lust. The Argentine Tango is like the seven deadly sins have been fused together and unleashed into one routine. Partners stay tight together, dancing to the emotion and speed of the music. The embrace between the dancers is the key difference between Argentine and regular tango. The Argentine Tango also has no basic step, it is completely improvised.

Viennese Waltz – The main difference between a Viennese Waltz and a traditional waltz is the speed. There are lots of quick turns and as a whole the dance can be up to four times as quick as the traditional waltz.

How to find a ballroom dance class

With Ballroom dancing soaring in popularity in the years since Strictly came to the fore, finding a class is easier than ever. Most dance studios and dance teachers will run ballroom dance classes that teach you a variety of styles. Others however do offer specific classes, for example in Salsa, Tango and Jive.

To find a ballroom dancing class, simply visit the Dance Near You homepage and search using your postcode to find the dance instructors nearest you. You can even choose your experience level to look for beginner's ballroom dance classes.

Once you've found a class that suits you, either book your place straight away by buying online or leave an enquiry with the instructor so they can contact you with more information.
Source: Dance Near You