Famous Latin Dance Styles!

Latin Dance styles are famous throughout the world for their sensuality and swiftness. There are two major categories that come under them. First are those which are a part of the International DanceSport Competitions. Styles like the cha-cha-cha, rumba, samba, paso doble, and also the jive of United States origin. Social Latin dances (Street Latin) include salsa, mambo, merengue, rumba, bachata, bomba and plena. There are many dances which were popular in the first part of the 20th century, but which are now of only historical interest. Cuban danzón is a good example. In this article, we shall give you a glimpse of six Latin styles.

1. Cha-cha-cha.

Cha-cha-cha is a Latin dance style of Cuban origin, the music to which was invented by Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrin in the early 1950s. The name of the dance is an onomatopoeia derived from the shuffling sound of the dancers’ feet when they dance two consecutive quick steps. The dance is danced in a steady yet energetic rhythm to authentic Cuban music, Latin Rock or Latin Pop and is made up of two slower steps followed by three quick steps i.e. cha-cha-cha in a ‘one-two-cha-cha-cha’ dance rhythm. Even though the modern ballroom version of dancing ‘cha-cha’ gradually continues to evolve with every dance competition; it remains strongly based on its Cuban roots from the 1950s.


2. Samba

Samba is a lively, rhythmical dance of Afro-Brazilian origin danced to samba music whose origins include the Maxixe (Brazillian Tango.) Samba was created by African people in Brazil from the music and dance culture they brought from Africa. Samba music is very similar to and has been influenced by many Angolan music genres. The term “samba” originally referred to any of several Latin duet dances with origins from the Congo and Angola. Today Samba is the most prevalent dance form in Brazil and reaches the height of its importance during the festival of Carnaval. Apart from this, the Ballroom Samba varies from this Brazillian form and an improvised version is used for it. However, if you ever visit Brazil, you will not be surprised to see evening Samba performances in open arenas!

3. Paso-Doble

Pasodoble which means double-step in Spanish, is a fast-paced Spanish military march used by infantry troops. This march gave rise to a traditional Spanish dance, a musical genre including both voice and instruments, and a genre of instrumental music often played during the bullfight. Both the dance and the non-martial compositions are called Pasodoble.

With its sharp, quick movements, Paso Doble takes up a lot of space and hence it is more of a show dance than social dancing. Many Pasodoble songs are variations of España Cañi which has breaks or “highlights” in fixed positions in the song. Highlights emphasize music and the dancers strike a dramatic pose which they hold until the end of the highlight. Traditionally, Pasodoble routines are choreographed to match these highlights, as well as musical phrases. This dance form fills the audience with energy and awe!

4. Tango :

Tango is a partner dance, and social dance that originated in the 1880s along the Río de la Plata, the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay. It was born in the impoverished port areas of these countries, where natives mixed with slave and European immigrant populations. Tango has been called the dance of ‘Sorrow’. It represents frustrated love and human fatality, although originally the dance was not so deep and serious. The original tango music had no lyrics to it and the dances were mostly improvised and in some cases were almost a combination of dance and wordless theatre. It is said that the intimate, soulful, sensual and comforting nature of tango reflects and serves their deep, inward, human needs.

5. Salsa :

Salsa is an amalgamation of Cuban dances that were popular in the ballrooms and nightclubs of Havana by the end of the 1950s. Different regions of Latin America and the United States have distinct salsa styles of their own, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, Cali Colombia, L.A. and New York styles. Salsa has lived through eras and is still prominent in the form of dance socials which are commonly held in nightclubs, bars, ballrooms, restaurants, and outside, especially when part of an outdoor festival. In many styles of salsa dancing, as a dancer shifts their weight by stepping, the upper body remains level and nearly unaffected by the weight changes. Weight shifts cause the hips to move. Arm and shoulder movements are also incorporated. Salsa is a quick dance and it requires you to have great coordination and chemistry with your partner!

6. Bachata :

One of the most sensual and embracing dance forms, Bachata is a famous style in social dancing eves. Often referred to in the West as ‘authentic or Dominican’ bachata, the original social dance was created in the Dominican Republic during the 1960s and was danced only in a closed position, like the bolero, often in close embrace. It is said that the most sensual form was created in Cádiz, Andalusia, Spain by Korke Escalona and Judith Cordero. This dance style has a very slow beat yet quick movements that are lead by the man usually and the woman follows the lead. It has become an independent dance form with strict principles of leading and following, with mostly circular movements and body waves, but also body isolations and dips when the dancers feel the music calls for it. It is a great sight to witness the dance steps of the partners go hand in hand with the music.

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