Dance History

DANCE STYLES
Latin Dances have a strong base rhythm with melodic overtones with a distinct body movement called Cuban Motion.
Salsa, Rumba ,Madison, Mambo, Cha Cha, Merengue, Bossa Nova, Samba.

Swing Dances offer a sultry, sensual, sophisticated, funky or lively rhythm:
West Coast Swing, Hustle, Carolina Shag, Lindy (Hop) Swing, Night Club Two Step, Single, Delayed and Triple time Jive.

Ballroom Dances are known as Standard or Modern dances, are executed in a flowing counterclockwise movement known as the line of dance.
Waltz, International Tango, Foxtrot, Quickstep.
 
BALBOA SWING
A swing rhythm dance during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Originated on Balboa Island at the Balboa Pavilion, California at a time when the music was fast and the floor was packed. Dancers fell easily into its rhythm hosting a suttle bounce quite easily due to dancing Lindy and Truckin’. Well known greats accredited with the reconstruction and curriculum of this dance during the 1980’s was Maxie Dorf, Sylvia Sykes and Jonathan Bixby.
 
BROADWAY STYLE
“Razzle Dazzle Em” ! Step out of your comfort zone and experience a little theatrical or stage dancing. Jazzy and fun. Show steps are crystallized into a fun choreographed dance routine. If you watched ‘So You Think You Can Dance” you would have enjoyed watching some of the contestants dancing Broadway style! Here is your chance to try it out for fun and excel in your dance skill. Includes body isolations, syncopations and musical phrasing! Shuffle your feet on over to this class and try something different.
 
CAROLINA SHAG
A swing dance spawned in the late 1930’s on North Myrtle Beach and is the official state dance of the Carolina’s. It is danced to Beach type music and hosts a distinctive style with a quiet action of the hips and upper torso, focusing on working the feet and legs. The dance was known as a “mans dance’ where he did all the turns and fancy footwork and the ladies job was to make him look good. Today the dance has evolved to a more equal partnership. The dance contains 6 and 8 beat patterns and uses “mirrored” basic steps. The Carolina Shag community has a following of over 15,000 Shaggers who attend the 2 top Shag conventions annually called The Spring Safari and the Fall Migration. Famous dancers of the Carolina Shag who held the championship title for more than 10 years was Jackie McGee and Charlie Womble, Atlanta, Georgia. In 1994 they received the Feather Award for Shag and in 2005 they became the Good Will Ambassadors for the Shag community. For further reading on the Carolina Shag, visit Kurt Lichtmann’s website: www.ithacaswingdance.com.
 
CHA CHA
A delightful Latin American dance from Cuba and is an outgrowth of the Mambo began in 1955. Cha Cha is a playful rhythm and is danced on the off beats of the music, 2 and 6. This versatile dance is part of every dance studio’s curriculum. The story goes that the dancers feet made a shifting sound between the beats of the slower tempo tunes of the Mambo thus creating a Cha Cha Cha sound. Cha Cha offers opportunity to individually play sporting some amazing footwork.
 
EAST COAST SWING
A generic term that covers an entire “family” of Swing dancing. A rhythm dance that was originally danced to Big Band music. Today East Coast Swing is danced to Contemporary, Country and Rock and Roll with the latest trend, the slower Blues music allowing for added syncopations. East Coast Swing was originally called Eastern Swing by The Arthur Murray Studios. The East Coast Swing name evolved between 1975-1980 and became the new name after “Western” and “West Coast” in the earlier ‘1960’s.
 
HUSTLE
The line dance that started it all began with the music of Van McCoy’s Hustle. Popular in a time known as the “Hustling 70’s” and further popularized by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

There were various forms of couple Hustle which evolved and included Latin Hustle, New York Hustle, LA Hustle, Street Hustle, Same Foot Hustle, 3 Count and 4 Count Hustle. The musical count for the Hustle is attracting favorable attention because of its strong connection to the music which makes the dancer feel the rhythm and excitement of the music.
 
LINDY (Hop) SWING
A jazzy dance in the late 1920’s named after Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Danced through the swing era of the 1930’s, it was known as Jitterbug and featured improvised steps for solo or partnered dancing. “Shorty” George Snowden invented the “breakaway” had to give up dancing in 1938 because he had pounded his feet shapeless. Today’s Lindy seems to be mostly acrobatic tricks but to be done right the Lindy is mainly footwork.
 
The Madison Craze:
“It’s Madison Time!” Began in 1957. A line dance (also has a partner version) that became the biggest dance craze nation wide! It is seen in the movie Hairspray and the current TV series American Dreams. Dancers are in a line similar to the 1970’s Soul Train line dance. It consists of a back-and-forth shuffle with “call outs” for various steps: double cross, Wilt Chamberlain’s basketball move, Rifleman etc. The Madison is a hoot to dance. It is taught in many of the the dance studios today. Get on the Madison train, let’s dance!
 
MAMBO … SALSA
Mambo, a “Dancers dance” originated in Cuba, 1943 by famous bandleader Perez Prado. In 1953 it had become the fast paced Latin dance with body embellishments and fast footwork. Known as the “naughty” Dance. Mambo is danced “off beat” rhythm which means to break on the 2 and 6 count of the music. There was fast, medium and slow called triple Mambo which lead to the birth of the Cha Cha. The Pachanga (Truckin’) was the forerunner of Mambo and danced “on beat” rhythm” During the 1980’s there was a resurrection of Mambo, however it was difficult for most to learn to dance which lead to the change of name to Salsa and danced on the 1 and 5 known as “on beat” rhythm. Salsa is the hottest Latin dance currently. The faster paced beat of Salsa is enjoyed by many in the Salsa clubs today. Advanced dancers prefer to “Trip the Light Fantastic” with their ability to dance Salsa on the off beat counts of the music.
 
NIGHT CLUB TWO STEP
Created by Buddy Schwimmer created and popularized this “great feeling dance” IN 1978 for the Night Clubs in LA. The dance has a triple rhythm basic and a characteristic rhythmic lilt. Each pattern starts with a back step. Night Club is a swing dance first called Disco Two Step or Slow Dancin’. Smooth swing danced with a partner.
 
RUMBA
Once an erotic dance combining African and Caribbean rhythms. It reached the United States in 1926 producing a tamed version that remained popular even today. The dance is flamboyant and sensuous. The Rumba was immortalized by Cole Porter in 1935 with his musical tune called Begin the Beguine.
 
SAMBA
A Brazilian dance that was originally performed by African slaves. The characteristic Samba movement, as practiced outside its native country, where it is a popular dance at carnival time, is a bouncing or dropping action obtained by bending and straightening of the knees while the weight is transferred from the ball to the flat of the foot. A jazzed up version of the Samba was the Bossa Nova. Samba was introduced at the Worlds Fair of 1939 and became a partner dance with a rhythmic lilt that is felt more than it is seen. The characteristic lilt has been removed from International Samba but remains in the Cuban and American Samba. The excitement of Samba focuses on relating the feeling of the music to the dance.
 
SHIM SHAM
A famous line dance during 1930’s and 1940’s. New York swing dancers still enjoy this tapper’s delight today. The crazy migrated to California and became the “Thing to Learn” if you are a swing dancer. The original version came from tap dancers as did many of the rhythm breaks and side by side variations that are used today in swing dancing. The 1944 version is danced on the 8th count with some today dancing on the 1st count. Frankie is credited with the original version. At 92 (2006) he is still teaching Shim Sham and Lindy across the United States. In 1935 on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a young Miss Skippy Blair witnessed the Shim Sham danced by 3 black tap dancers who did a phenomenal job of song and dance that included a slow soft shoe called the Shim Sham. An unforgettable performance!

SWANGO
The fusion between West Coast Swing and Argentine Tango. Tango brings out the “Inner flame” of your West Coast Swing moves and Swing will add “nuevo” to your Argentine Tango! Swango is a dance full of amgic and surprises giving you freedom in creativity and improvisation. The exotic new tango music inspires experimentation to fuse Argentine Tango with Swing and other dances. Pattie Conley and Tony Azar discovered links to switching back and forth between the two dances.
 
WALTZ
It was 1799, the Waltz began in Germany as a turning dance to 3 / 4 time music. It spread to the rest of Europe in the early 19th century. The characteristic of the Waltz is the rise and fall action. The degree of rise and fall will change with the tempo of the music. The slower the tempo the greater the rise and fall. There are various styles of Waltz such as the American Waltz, Country Waltz, International Waltz and the Viennese Waltz. The roots of the Waltz are in folk dancing with a closed holding of a partner.
 
WEST COAST SWING
The Official State Dance of California. This swing dance derived from the Lindy Hop during the 1930’s is enjoyed to the genres of music: pop, rock, rhythm & blues, blues, jazz, country. This high tech game of swing has two rhythm patterns. One known as pass rhythm and uses 6 counts of music and the other known as whip rhythm counted as 8 counts of music. West Coast Swing is danced in linear floor position and allows for endless possibilities. Each dancer may express individuality while dancing with partner. Popular and stylish, it is characterized by a distinctive elastic look that results from its basic leverage-compression technique of partner connection. Within the spectrum of partner dances, WCS is a dance of challenge and improvisation.
 
TANGO
A social dance; originated in the lower class districts of Buenos Aires Argentina and Montevideo Uruguay during the 1890’s. It became a huge part of society as theatres and street barrel organs spread it from the suburbs to the working class slums which were packed with many European immigrants. The musical styles evolved and the dance became known as Tango which grew into various styles: Argentine, Uruguayan Tango, Ballroom-International, American, Chinese and Finnish Tango. Also Salon, Milonguero, Nuevo and Fantasia (Show Tango). Argentine Tango is regarded as the “Authentic” Tango, it is the closest to that danced in Argentina and Uruguay. Tango is emphasized with long elegant steps and complex figures with the Milonguero style having a very close embrace, small steps and syncopated rhythmic footwork. Tango music, a fusion of various musical forms from Europe, has a dramatic feeling associated with love and romance. The music favors the Bandeoneon, a french folk instrument belonging to the sane family as the Concertina and the Flutinas squeeze boxes. Their bass systems are a true science in themselves having many unique configurations. For Argentine Tango films of interest check out: Tango Bar (1988), The Tango Lesson (1997), Assassination Tango (2002), Orquestra Tipica 2005 documentary film.