The immense interest in Latin American dance these days can be explained by the society’s development within the mixture of multicultural traditions, the fascinating attraction of lively rhythmic Latin music, and a lot of passion in every movement.
Different kinds of Latin American dance owe their origin to different parts of Central and South America, African, Caribbean, and European influences, and the ritual nature of many festivities accompanied by indigenous Latin American dancing.
We want to introduce a professional and creative Canadian Latin American dance company in Toronto where you can find the best Latin American dance troupes for hire near me or learn how to dance yourself.
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“Hips Don’t Lie” has one of the most professional Latin American dance teams that can make any special occasion, celebration, or big event unforgettable. A lot of bright costume colors, the mastery and devotion of our talented dancers, and the special atmosphere you can experience together with us will bring a lot of happiness and fun into your everyday routine. Start with learning about the dance styles we are ready to represent and the services you can order from us.
What Is Latin American Traditional Dance? - History and Present Day
You cannot compile an exact Latin American dance definition, and mistaken are those who relate this term to the geographical name of Latin America as a part of the American continent. The Latin American dance history dates back to the Aztecs, Incas, and the First Nations' deistic rituals and festivals. However, when the first European conquerors arrived, they brought with them some other dancing traditions that originated at their countries’ Royal Courts.
Then, in the mid-16th century, a lot of black slaves were imported from different parts of West Africa because the Europeans could not make the Native Nations work for them. Dancing was a substantial component of those African slaves’ everyday life. The Viceroy of Mexico even ordered to bury the Aztec Calendar Stone in 1569 because the slaves used to dance around it all day long, getting distracted from the hard work they were expected to do. Moreover, that Viceroy, Luis de Velasco, even decreed that dancing should be done on Sundays and feasts only, as well as at certain hours - between noon and 6 o’clock in the evening.
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Therefore, Latin American dancing culture formed from the fusion of three different cultures - indigenous First Nations, like Aztecs, Africans, and Europeans (mostly Spaniards).
The 17th-18th centuries also saw the birth of another fusion that produced an entirely new culture - Creole. Those European dances that were brought into Latin America were adapted to it, i.e., ‘creolized.’ For example, that happened to the Contra Dance in Cuba, which turned into the Contradanza Habanera (meaning that it was invented in Havana). It adopted a syncopated rhythm and became known as ‘Habanera.’ Its musical form is widely known to the audience from the ‘Carmen’ opera by Bizet. Later, Latin music changed again, including syncopated bars used around 1795 in Brazil. They called it a Modinha (translated as ‘a love song’). It came to Europe at the beginning of the 19th century and became immensely popular.
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This story concerns only one of the Latin American dances, but every unique history of the Latin American dance type was developed separately.
So, what is Latin American dancing? True worshipers of this dance style, such as the Africans and the Cubans, do not want to bother themselves with the strict rules governing how to take someone’s hand, bow, or place feet in a correct position, as it is characteristic of the European standard dances. They consider the Latin American dance performance as a moment in time that is full of emotion and excitement, the closest bonds and open-minded interactions between a man and a woman to the tunes of the clave. The movements, costumes, music, and fascinating atmosphere created by the prominent Latin American dance groups will remind you of a warm family gathering or some kind of merry celebration. At Hips Don’t Lie, we do our best to preserve and render this unforgettable bright feeling to our customers.
Anyway, what are Latin dances about nowadays? It is almost impossible to remember all the Latin American dance names. Nevertheless, some of them have become the standardized subjects of dancing classes, amateur medal contests, and professional competitions. They are Cha-Cha-Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble (coming from Spain), and Jive (it originated in North America a bit later).
Simultaneously, a lot of others that originated in various parts of Latin America are loved and widely practiced by many people all over the world. When we speak about Bachata, Salsa, Lambada, Mambo, Macarena, Carimbo, Bolero, Merengue, Joropo, Conga, Rueda, Cumbia, and many others, the bright carnival pictures come to our mind, full of joy, love, music, colors, and a lot of warmth and a lot of warmth and light, combined in the total emotion of the overwhelming happiness. We invite you to share these stunning feelings with Hips Don’t Lie.
Latin American Styles, Routines, and Authenticity
Therefore, what is a Latin American dance presented in a modern way? Each dance is mainly a set of standardized techniques that meet the expectations of Western culture. Does it preserve the meaning of Latin American dance in its ingenuine motivations, sources, and emotional loads? Do you actually dance to express yourself or impress someone by your side? The modern style is full of new ideas, improvements, and contemporary tunings. However, they preserve the roots, and it is the most essential feature.
The professional Latin American dance troupe at Hips Don’t Lie goes back to Latin dancing roots and displays the full understanding of where it all was born, however, with the brand-new coloring and dancing value enrichment. Therefore, we believe that the true Latin American dance routine should be based on the historical traditions of Latin American folk dance.
Here are the main features of such fascinating traditional routines that make up the best American Latin dance performance:
- A strong connection to the ground is characteristic of Western African deity-worshipping dancing. The routines originated in Cuba demonstrate this relationship with Mother Earth via the active work of hips, legs, and feet of every Latin American dancer.
- Brazilian foot articulation is specific for Samba. They believe that a perfect sambista should speak with the feet, speeding up and slowing down according to the syncopated rhythm but always with a meaningful and persuasive connection to the floor. The routine of the authentic Cuban Rumba should make a full impression of gliding and levitation, following the distinct percussive music beat.
- Contratiempo Cubano timing is a distinctive characteristic of Rumba and such interesting Cuban dances as Danzon and Son. It means that the 4/4 time signature starts with the first strongest neat. Dancing begins on the 2nd or even on the 4th beat, so we may think it does not follow the rhythmical pattern. The same Latin American dance principle is related to African music, where even more improvisation and syncopation are implied.
- Hip movements are magical. They draw much attention as an honest expression of feelings of love, freedom, and naturalness, for example, in the Cuban Rumba Guaguanco.
- Polyrhythmic activities are also a distinctive sign of African music and dancing that affected Latin American styles and routines. It means that several rhythmic patterns sound simultaneous, and each partner’s body rhythm pattern should correspond to one of them. At first sight, each partner challenges the other, but, as a result, the couple reaches an amazing dancing harmony.
- Playfulness in such dances as Cuban Rumba, Cha-Cha-Cha, or Mambo is authentic and natural. Two partners communicate with each other with the help of this frivolous movement dialogue. Each partner seems prepared to react immediately to the provocation of the other. In addition, close eye contact enhances this impression.
- Cuban motion is widely used in these dances. It is a specific circular movement of hips due to the elaborate weight transfer and articulated feet moving to the percussive accents.
- Dynamic changes in the dancing pace produce a lot of energy. Such dances as Cuban Rumba or Danzon are full of unpredictable changes, from slow and sensual movements to abrupt and potent accents.
- Minimalistic and sensual touch is always a sign of full synergy on the floor. It is also the communication of emotions and intentions for sharing body weight.
- Spontaneity and impressive body design are also strong means of communication. The naive but clear gesture should display straightforwardly what dancers feel at the moment without any analysis of the outcomes.
“Hips Don’t Lie” is one of the prominent Canadian dance companies whose mission is to let its clients know more about the roots of every dancing movement and routine. Therefore, if you are looking for a company that offers decent professional-level Latin dance near me, you are warmly welcome.
Characteristics of the Five Most Popular Latin Dance Styles
So, if you are asked ‘What is a Latin American dance,’ you may think about different kinds of dancing, fancy costumes, and passionately expressive moves. You may try to recollect the names of Latin American dances, at least some of them. Or you may want to find a reputable Latin American dance company, order their dance acts for hire, and enjoy every professional movement's luxury, vibe, and bright emotions.
All styles and types of dancing here are pretty captivating and alluring. Though there are five most popular styles in the Latin American dance list. They are Argentine Tango, Bachata, Salsa, Cha-Cha-Cha, and Rumba. Learn more about them from Hips Don’t Lie.
Bachata originated as one of the Latin American folk dances in the Dominican Republic. Now, it is the most popular social dance worldwide, alongside Salsa. Many variations of this style have recently appeared.
In general, the music has an accent at every 4th count. The tap or pop happens at this count, and dancers of Latin American Bachata start moving in the opposite direction. They use hips very often with a Cuban motion and a three-step combination after every fourth count.
Modern Latin American dance groups practice a new fusion style where they combine Bachata with Dominican Barham, Tango, and Rumba. Bachata Moderna adds a lot from Salsa, Zouk, Tango, and other types of dancing. The ballroom style has developed for competition dance in Europe and the USA. It is characterized by accentuated hip movements and features from other Latin American ballroom dance styles.
The history of Cha-Cha-Cha started when a well-known dance teacher, let’s call him Monsieur Pierre, went to Cuba to learn the Mambo. After his return to Britain, he introduced those movements into the dancing styles he practiced at that time, and an entirely new dance was born.
This immensely popular dance uses the music of 4/4 count. Most movements are focused on the pelvis and hips, and the dance is very compact. You shift your weight with a series of sliding steps, and the inner rotations and compressions are almost unnoticeable.
The music is also fascinating here since it fuses American jazz and Rumba pieces. It is also used by many music bands, often played in clubs, and serves as soundtracks to films.
Many Latin American dancers practice Cha-Cha-Cha for their performances. It is also known as a social and ballroom competition dance for both amateurs and professionals.
Rumba has a special place among the most famous Latin American dances. It is the most sensual dancing style ever. The first mentions of it appeared in Cuba as early as the 16th century when the first African slaves arrived there.
Rumba music uses a 4/4 count rhythm, and you start movements with the accent on the 2nd count.
Originally, Rumba was faster and more aggressive. It had a great influence on the development of other dancing styles, for example, Cha-Cha-Cha. The Cuban middle-class people even refined it into another dance known as Son.
It is a slow and passionate dance that originated in Buenos Aires in the middle of the 19th century. It fused a lot of different cultures and styles brought from Portugal, Italy, Spain, and Poland, together with the prominent African slaves’ dancing ways.
Argentine Tango is extremely popular today, and every local Latin American dance group and club uses it for their performances. It is also widely taught at dance schools.
It is one of the most outstanding Latin American dance examples. Salsa has its roots in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Columbia. An entirely new rhythm appeared in the 1960s and combines those of Cha-Cha-Cha, Mambo, and Rumba. They believe that the first Latin American dance troupe practicing Salsa was formed in New York by the Puerto Ricans and Cubans who emigrated there from these countries.
Salsa represents six different styles danced worldwide. The dance also uses four-beat music, with two bars per every eight beats. The movements feature feet, legs, and hips, with a man in the leading and a woman in the following position.
Find an expert Latin American dance group near me and practice Salsa or just enjoy their colorful performances.
What is the most famous Latin American dance?
These styles are so popular nowadays that it is difficult to say which dance is the most popular. However, Salsa and Bachata seem to be the leaders worldwide.
What is the characteristic of Latin American dance?
Latin American dance is characterized by the distinct rhythmic 4-beat music and the movements of feet, legs, and hips. All these dances are also very sensual and emotional.
What are the 5 Latin American dances?
The 5 most popular dances in this category are Salsa, Bachata, Rumba, Cha-Cha-Cha, and Argentine Tango. Though many others, like Samba or Mambo, are widely danced and well-appreciated.
Where did Latin American dance originate?
The dances united by this name originated in Central and South America, in the countries such as Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Columbia, and others. However, they also combined the elements and traditions of African and European dancing styles.
Final Thoughts: Latin American Dance Styles Are Exciting
Latin American dances bring a lot of vibe and excitement to everyday routines. That is why they are so popular worldwide. Most of them have their roots in Cuba, Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Such Latin American dance styles as Rumba, Salsa, Tango, and others have become the most promoted and practiced by many Latin American dance companies in Canada.
“Hips Don’t Lie” is one of such outstanding expert companies in Toronto and GTA. We offer colorful and vibrant entertainment acts for hire, professional classes, and a lot of enjoyment. Our talented and experienced Latin American dance troupe will be a great choice for any of your festivities, special occasions, or big events. Come to Hips Don’t Lie, and dance Latin American with us.