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Dance History

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					Dance History
Waltz
      Originally a country folk dance emerging from Bavaria, the dance was
considered too unrefined for the upper social tiers. It was therefore banned for
almost 100 years. Of course, nothing makes a dance more popular than by
banning it. The original version is now called the Viennese because of the popular
Strauss brothers of Vienna. Johan and Sebastian wrote countless melodies that
can only be done at the tempo we now call Viennese. There were several versions
of the American Waltz, including the “Boston.” They passed the way of unpopular
dances and the figures were standardized to the “Box” we know today.
Characterized by rise and fall, heel leads, solid frame, sway motions and grounded
foot patterns, it is among the more difficult dances to perform correctly. It is in ¾
time and approximately 32 measures per minute.


Tango
       This dance is proof that if you make a dance style sufficiently “Erotic”
everyone will want to try it. It was born in the late 19 th Century, in the brothels of
Buenos Aires. It brought together migrating Slaves, Argentine Gauchos, Business
men, Politicians and anyone with money and influence. Brought to the U.S. just
prior to the 1st World War, it was immediately made the rage of the Country with
expressions of the dance by Rudolph Valentino and other popular Stars of the
period. The ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing) standardized the
American version that we enjoy today. The International version often seen on
PBS was created by the British for uniform worldwide competition. It really does
not resemble the original Argentine versions. The Argentine version remains
unique to the School or the Teacher. There is no National Syllabus for the dance
and Argentines claim that it is this sense or individual creativity that gives the
dance its fiery feel. Music is 4/4 time and American version is at about 32 bars
per minute.


Foxtrot
      Harry Fox, a night club entrepreneur and Ziegfield Follies dancer did his
version of the Trot dances on the stages and dances of New York. It was a frenetic
dance with trotting and hopping all over the stage. When the dance was adopted
by the British (they run International dancing) it was made smoother, more
elegant with gliding steps, heel leads and smooth easygoing gait. Many of the
Foxtrot patterns were adapted directly from the Waltz. It is easily the most
flexible, and easily adapted, all purpose dance that can be used for many different
styles of music. Music is 4/4 time and 30 to 34 bars per minute.


Viennese Waltz
       What is now called the Viennese Waltz is the original form of the waltz and
the first ballroom dance in the closed hold or "waltz" position. The dance that is
popularly known as the Waltz is actually the English or slow waltz, danced
approximately at 90 beats per minute with 3 beats to the bar (the international
standard of 30 measures per minute) while the Viennese Waltz is danced at about
180 beats (58-60 measures) a minute.

       The Viennese Waltz is a rotary dance where the dancers are constantly
turning either in a clockwise (natural) or anti-clockwise (reverse) direction
interspersed with non-rotating change steps to switch between the direction of
rotation. A true Viennese waltz consists only of turns and change steps.


Salsa
      Salsa is not easily defined. Who invented salsa? The Cubans, Puerto Ricans?
Salsa is a distillation of many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances. Each played a
large part in its evolution.

       Salsa is similar to Mambo in that both have a pattern of six steps danced
over eight counts of music. The dances share many of the same moves. In Salsa,
turns have become an important feature, so the overall look and feel are quite
different form those of Mambo. Mambo moves generally forward and backward,
whereas, Salsa has more of a side to side feel.




Rumba
      This sensual and romantic Cuban dance is the oldest dance on the Continent.
It was noted among the Slaves in the 17th century. That makes it older than even
the Waltz in Europe and has the reputation of being the Dance of Love. The
original dance was nothing like today’s beautiful rhythms. It was a fertility folk
dance among the slaves and imitated mating gestures of various animals as it
moved about the floor. Even though it was the older dance, the modern version
took much of its new rhythm from the Son. New Cuban hits such as “The Peanut
Vendor” sparked an interest among Americans for that “Rumba” music.            A
standardized version of the dance appeared as early as 1943. It is recognized by
its “Cuban Motion”, a romantic feel and a languorous rhythm. Music is sensual,
4/4 time and tempo is 32-36 bars per minute.


Merengue
       There is a lot of variety in Merengue music. Tempos vary a great deal and
the Dominicans enjoy a sharp quickening in pace towards the latter part of the
dance. The most favored routine at the clubs and restaurants that run a dance
floor is a slow Bolero, breaking into a Merengue, which becomes akin to a bright,
fast Jive in its closing stages. The ballroom Merengue is slower and has a modified
hip action.

      The Merengue was introduced in the United States in the New York area.
However, it did not become well known until several years later. Ideally suited to
the small, crowded dance floors, it is a dance that is easy to learn and essentially
a "fun" dance.


Cha Cha
      This Afro-Cuban dance was born in Cuba in 1953. The first published
recording was by Enrique Jorrin, violinist and arranger in many of the top Cuban
bands including Perez Prado. The dance arrived in New York with a passionate
response from Americans who found it easier to dance than the Mambo. The
characteristic smooth violins and flutes, still heard in Mexican versions of the
dance, were soon exchanged for the Big Band brass that we know today. In New
York, the name Cha Cha Cha was given to the dance. In Cuba it is called a slow
Mambo or a Son. The name Cha Cha Cha is thought to be named after the sound
of women’s shoes moving along the floor.       There is an emphasis on hip action
through out the dance and is a comfortable 28 to 30 bars per minute and in 4/4
time.



East Coast Swing
      The name East Coast Swing is purely out of need for a stable name and
style. It has nothing to do with the East Coast and got its name shortly after the
craze for West Coast Swing some decades ago. Its’ origins go back to the
Charleston and the Lindy Hop and the developing Black dances from Harlem.
Theses dances were developed at the famous Savoy Ballroom that was opened in
Harlem in 1926. The dance is distinguished by a rock step and is circular in
nature. Unlike the West Coast Swing, which is slotted and is generally done in 8
counts per figure East Coast is done to 6 counts of music. The influence of
Country Western dancing is evident in West Coast dancing while the Big Band
music and styles dominate the East Coast versions.

				
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