Learn The Moves

Want to get the heads up on the dance Terminology? Here ya go! 

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Ballroom dances - social dances usually performed by couples, including the fox-trot, waltz, tango, rumba, swing, mambo, samba, and cha cha.

Cha Cha - From the less inhibited night clubs and dance halls the Mambo underwent subtle changes. It was triple mambo and this then became a dance in itself.

Charleston - Originated in the early 20's in illegal drinking places during the time of prohibition. The combination of a particular type of jazz music and the highly polished, slippery floors of the Speakeasies gave rise to an in and out flicking of the feet which essentially characterized the dance. It was theatricized and embellished with typical vaudeville moves in a Ziegfield Follies production in 1921. It has since been featured in many films and theater productions, such as the Broadway musical "The Boy Friend."

Fandango - A lively Spanish dance in triple time performed with castanets or tambourines. The dance begins slowly and tenderly, the rhythm marked by the clack of castanets, snapping of fingers, and stomping of feet. The speed gradually increases to a whirl of exhilaration.

Fouette - Literally "whipped." A turning step, usually done in a series, in which the working leg whips out to the side in and then into the knee as the dancer turns on the supporting leg, rising onto the point at each revolution.

Fox-trot - A social dance of American origin. A standard ballroom dance the world over and serves as a good foundation for social dances in 2/4 or 4/4 time.

Freestyle - Ad lib dance movements with no fixed structure. Danced to a variety of music styles including Rock 'n Roll, and discotheque beats.

Jive - International competitive Swing dance with elements of the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug. Characterized by up tempo single time music danced with triple steps done primarily on the toes with very lively movement.

Mambo - The Mambo dance originated in Cuba where there were substantial settlements of Haitians. The fusion of Swing and Cuban music produced this fascinating rhythm and in turn created a new sensational dance. The Mambo was originally played as any Rumba with a riff ending. It may be described as a riff or a Rumba with a break or emphasis on 2 and 4 in 4/4 time.

Modern Dance - A form of dance as developed by Martha Graham, Haya Holm, Doris Humphyre, Charles Weidman and others. It expresses complex emotions and abstract ideas.

Pirouette  - A complete turn of the body executed on one leg; the working leg is placed with the foot drawn up to the ankle or knee of the supporting leg.

Rumba - The Rumba was originally a marriage dance. Many of its movements and actions which seem to have an erotic meaning are merely depictions of simple farm tasks. The shoeing of the mare, the climbing of a rope, the courtship of the rooster and the hen, etc. It was done for amusement on the farms by the black population of Cuba. However, it became a popular ballroom dance and was introduced in the United States about 1933. It was the Americanized version for the Cuban Son and Danzon. It is in 4/4 time. The characteristic feature is to take each step without initially placing the weight on that step. Steps are made with a slightly bent knee which, when straightened, causes the hips to sway from side to side in what has come to be known as "Cuban Motion."

 Salsa - This is a favored name for a type of Latin music which, for the most part, has its roots in Cuban culture and is enhanced by jazz textures. The word, Salsa, means sauce denoting a "hot" flavor and is best distinguished from other Latin music styles by defining it as the New York sound developed by Puerto Rican musicians in New York. The dance structure is largely associated with mambo type patterns and has a particular feeling that is associated mainly with the Clave and the Montuno.

Samba - This Brazilian dance was first introduced in 1917 but was finally adopted by Brazilian society in 1930 as a ballroom dance. It is sometimes referred to as a Samba, Carioca, a Baion or a Batucado. The difference is mostly in the tempo played since the steps in all three dance are very similar. The style is to bounce steadily and smoothly in 2/4 meter. The Samba was introduced in the United States in 1939 by the late Carmen Miranda.

Shimmy - Started as an African American dance of the late 1880's. It is a shaking of the shoulders and a whole body. First recreated by Gilda Gray.

Step Dancing - is distinctively Irish, combining artistry, grace, and physical ability. It has followed the Irish and Irish missionaries wherever they traveled including North America, Australia, New Zealand, Brittany France, Singapore, and Africa. Eight measures or bars of music are called a "step".

Swing - Popular blend of several African American dances, which include Lindy and Ragtime Jazz and Blues, as well as all the other dance music to accompanying dances of the past ninety years. Today it generally refers to the ballroom and night club version which is based on two slow and two quick counts or the slow and two quick counts of rhythm dances.

Tango - A social dance in 2/4 time, which after originating in Spain, developed in Argentina, where it was influenced by black dance style and rhythm.

Truckin - An African American form of shuffling along while shaking the index finger of the fight hand above the head. Popular in 1937.

Two Step - a simple dance, more or less double quick march with a skip in each step done as rapidly as a couple can go.