Latin Ballroom Dance

If you have ever seen a Latin dance performance and Latin ballroom dancing pictures, you are sure to fall in love with its driving rhythms, passionate movements, and bright costumes. “Hips Don’t Lie” can introduce this big group of dances to your attention. You will be able to enjoy our professional Latin ballroom dance troupe or take classes with experienced teachers. We are one of the most prominent Canadian dance companies that provide unforgettable experiences to everyone who is interested in this amazing variety of styles, the abundance of colors and emotions, enjoyable rhythms, and a truly festive atmosphere that can stay with you for a long.


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      What Stands Behind Latin Ballroom Dancing?

      So, what is Latin ballroom dancing? The Latin ballroom history is pretty varied. It is a large group of styles that originated in Latin America. These dances can be divided into the club or social and ballroom or competitive ones. They spread across Europe in the 19th century and gained immense popularity. Nowadays, it is a curious mix of styles, cultures, routines, and traditions from American natives, Afro-American folk dances, and European elegance and grace. For example, Samba originated in Brazil, Cha-Cha-Cha and Rumba came from Cuba and Haiti, and Paso Doble features traditions of bullfighting coming from Spain. This Latin ballroom information can be extended.

      The list of social Latin American dances performed by local Latin ballroom dance groups is pretty extended. It includes Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Mambo, Kizomba, Zouk, Reggaeton, Argentine Tango, Bomba, and Plena. Some of them are performed by the Latin dance troupes for hire near me during festivals, while others can be competitive.

      The program of Latin ballroom dances of International Latin consists of five dances - Cha-Cha-Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, and Jive. It was adopted by the World DanceSport Federation. The program was composed in 1930 and has never been changed much since then.

      latin ballroom dancing

      International Latin Ballroom Dancing

      The history of Latin ballroom dance is rich in styles and events. All types of Latin ballroom dance are performed in a pair, with a man leading and a woman following the lead. The program of the International Latin ballroom dance means a combination of five dances - Cha-Cha-Cha, Samba, International Rumba, Paso Doble, and Jive.

      The International Latin ballroom dance explained is often referred to as “Latin” or “Latin American”. However, you need to know that International Latin is not about “authentic Latin dancing.” The evolution of Latin dances is observed in long leg lines and balletic techniques. For example, ballroom Samba does not look like that festive dancing you can see in the Brazilian streets. And Jive has a slight resemblance to its counterpart Swing styles in North America.

      Dancers in Latin ballrooms should have a lot of strength, stamina, and expertise to perform at a high level. The performance should look sexy, sophisticated, fascinating, and joyous. So, what is Latin ballroom dance presented at social events, and does it differ from the competitive one? Dancing ballroom Latin at a social level is easier and freer, and partners have more space for playing and improvising. Though it is yet one of the most intense dance styles.

      The main differences between International Standard and Latin ballroom dance techniques are in the frame and posture, body movements, music, and timing.

      latin ballroom dancing

      Standard dancing uses a closed frame where a lady rests her left arm on a man’s right shoulder. A Latin ballroom dancer chooses among a few holds based on the requirements of a specific dance. They can be an open hold, a close hold, a single hold, and a double hand hold.

      When we provide the Latin ballroom definition, we remark that Latin dances are dynamic and passionate. They combine the fluid rhythms of Latin music and elegant body shapes and poses in their choreography. Many Canadian Latin ballroom dance companies try to demonstrate these features in their Latin ballroom dance performance. Here at our professional dance studio “Hips Don’t Lie”, we do our best to show our clients the true beauty of these most popular ballroom dances.

      In general, body movements for the Latin ballroom style involve a mixture of Cuban motion, with a strong hip emphasis, shifting of the knees, and isolations of the upper body.

      Latin dances are distinguished by their music and timing. All of them have a much faster pace that is always fun and lighthearted. They do not make dancers travel the room as much as Standard dancers do.

      You may experience difficulties while choosing what style of dancing exactly to watch or take up. As a prominent Canadian dance company, we have the most talented Latin ballroom dancers and instructors to help you enjoy the music and performance or master the basics of these styles.

      Let’s consider the five most widely performed Latin ballroom dance styles, which are also a part of the International Latin program, their roots, and routines. Apart from fantastically entertaining performances, we offer group classes and individual dance lessons.

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      Cha-Cha-Cha: Latin Ballroom Dancing Competitions and Routines

      To understand the Latin ballroom dance meaning, let’s start with Cha-Cha-Cha. It is a lively dance that gets you moving intensively across the dance floor. It took its slower steps from Rumba and Mambo and then added a triple step. The dance was first introduced in the United States in 1954, and it was initially referred to as Cha-Cha-Cha. It had replaced the Mambo by 1959 because it had gained much more popularity. The name was gradually changed to just Cha-Cha, and it is widely used today. The main feature of Cha-Cha is its versatility which allows dancers to create their hybrid choreography and make it the most entertaining competitive dance.

      The Latin ballroom dance description of the basic moves of Cha-Cha-Cha is very simple. The leader starts with the left foot, and the follower starts with the right one. The follower counts one to three beats, and the leader adjusts the movements to the follower’s location. The follower steps three times at the end of the movement, and this is known as the anchor step.

      The origin of Cha-Cha has two versions. The first comes from a Cuban violinist, Enrique Jorrin by name, who introduced the term “Cha-Cha-Cha”, mimicking the shuffling sound of the dancers’ shoes. The other credit was given to Pierre Lavelle who imported the Cha-Cha-Cha to Europe in the 1950s. He brought it from a trip to Cuba where he observed and studied the traditional folk dancing styles. He became interested in the routines where the dancers added extra steps to the common Rumba and Mambo dances. He began teaching this hybrid style after coming back from his travel. The style became known as the Cha-Cha-Cha.

      The origin of this style is also related to the religious ritualistic dances coming from the West Indies. Accordion to some historical studies, Voodoo band leaders used rattles made from Cha-Cha plants to produce a specific sound. This distinct rattle was used in the combination of drums and bells as a sort of metronome to indicate time while singing and dancing.

      latin american dance Cha Cha Cha

      Samba: Performances and Dance Lessons

      There are several important Latin ballroom dance facts you need to know about Samba. It originated in Bahia. The enslaved Africans danced their ritual performances of Candomble, Capoeira, and Samba after a long working day. They danced in a circle, and these rituals had a religious background and context. One of the dancers, Tia Ciara, started hosting the Samba events in her house which made the dance immensely popular.

      Samba music is official in Brazil, and it was recognized by UNESCO as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Samba styles are different, depending on the geographic location and social trends in the region of origin. For example, the traditional Samba de Roda from Bahia differs a lot from Jongo in South East, or the choreographed ballroom Samba de Gafieira, Cohorinho from Rio de Janeiro.

      A Carnival Parade in Brazil is impossible without Samba dancers from different schools. They also involve a lot of dancers, choreographers, musicians, designers, and dressmakers from all over the world. The Carnival Parade can last for a week. The event is so entended that 14 large cities in Brazil have the Sambadeomes.

      You can find authentic private Samba dance classes and the best Latin ballroom dance performances in many cities in Europe and North America. “Hips Don’t Lie,” as a well-appreciated Latin ballroom dance company in Toronto and GTA, is happy to feature its own Samba classes and breathtaking entertainment acts for hire combined with the five different dancing styles. We’ll create the atmosphere of a true Brazilian carnival for you to make it the best experience of Latin ballroom dancing in Toronto.

      latin dance Samba

      Rumba: History and Present Day of the Ballroom Dancing Style

      This dance is considered the most beautiful one. It is sensual and smooth with its swaying hip movements and close connection between partners. Our teachers believe that it isn’t a difficult dance to learn, and our professional Latin ballroom dance troupe will show you the true beauty of passion.

      Rumba is a popular social dancing style, too. It is traditionally performed to slow Latin music, but nowadays, many popular songs are a good choice for this dance. Our creative dance instructors love to deal with Rumba because it brings a lot of joy to both dancers and spectators, making it the best class of Latin ballroom dance in Toronto.

      Rumba has a long history. It comes from a variety of dancing styles. One of them is Afro-Cuban. The music and dance routines here originated from such island dances as Son, Danzon, and Yambu. However, the style that is immensely popular in the USA and Canada nowadays is the ballroom dance we all see at social events and international competitions. It is a bit different from a Cuban rhythm dance known as the Bolero-Son.

      Rumba is one of the oldest dances that was first performed as early as the 16th century by African slaves in Cuba. It was a fast and sensual style with sharp and slightly exaggerated hip movements. It used music with a staccato beat. The dance was introduced to the USA in 1913. Lew Quinn and Joan Sawyer were the two nightclub dancers who added a lot to this style. However, the style became popular only in the 1920s because this version of Rumba became more refined and much slower. The popularity of Rumba grew throughout the 20th century and became global.

      Nowadays, Rumba is widely performed as a show dance and at competitions of American Rhythm and International Latin programs. Due to the mastery of professional Latin ballroom dance teams, the styles in them are a bit different in basic steps and the emphasis of the counts. The American Rhythm uses 1, 3, and 4 as the basic count, while the International Latin counts as 2, 3, and 4. In addition, the American style allows stepping onto a bent leg, while the dancer should step onto a straight leg only in International Latin.


      Paso Doble: Origins and Routines of the Latin Ballroom Dance

      It is impossible to understand the meaning of Latin ballroom dance without considering Paso Doble. The name “Paso Doble” originates from the Spanish language and means “double steps.” There is always debate about whether the dance’s roots are in Spanish bullfighting. It was agreed in the 1930s that a male partner features a bullfighter and a female partner is his cape. The aggressive actions and movements during the performance are considered bull runs and attacks. However, the overall meaning of Paso Doble is a conflict between the partners. It can be interpreted as a love quarrel and then a split, too.

      Nevertheless, the main characteristics of this dance are sharp and quick movements around the floor. They are meant to visualize the matador’s feelings and attitudes portrayed during the fight. Paso Doble's speed is immensely high. The music is a 58-60-bar beat, so you may take about 120 steps per minute on the floor.

      The most important characteristic of the posture here is that the hips are kept forward. Some dancers may even tilt their body back for better balance with the forward hip position. The spine should remain straight and constantly stretched up to produce a heavy dramatic look.

      There are a lot of features and dramatic gestures on part of the leader, and the follower usually performs circular steps around him. The hold is rigid, fast, and close throughout the whole dance.

      It is interesting to know that, despite its Spanish origin, Paso Doble uses French names for almost all its steps and figures. The movements include the chasse cape, believed to mimic the moves of the matador’s cape, the basic movement forward, the basic movement back, and several others. A creative local Latin ballroom dance group can add a lot of drive and emotion to them.

      Paso Doble

      Jive: Specifics of This Latin Ballroom Dance Routines

      It is the happiest, boppiest, and most energetic style among all Latin ballroom dance types. It features a lot of knee-lifting, hip rocking, body bending, kicks and flicks, and some twirling tricks. However, the feet should be perfectly controlled in this style and kept straight under the body with the knees close together.

      The basic Jive step pattern is 6-beat. The partners face each other with their arms in closed positions. The man leads, but the woman does not always follow. She mocks the partner and invites him to follow her, too. The most distinctive Jive steps are American spin, chicken walks, jig walks, throwaway, and arm breakers.

      You can dance Jive to any swing music and the blues, but the tempo can range up to 200 beats per minute. A variety of musical styles can be used, including rock’n roll, boogie-woogie, and pure swing. If you are a beginner, you need to get used to the rhythm. Listen to the drum line rather than the melody because the drum shows the beat. You can join any reputable Latin ballroom dance group near me and make it a try.

      We can speak about the other styles performed by our Latin ballroom dance groups. Do not forget that Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Mambo, Kizomba, Zouk, Reggaeton, Argentine Tango, Bomba, and Plena are also worth your attention.



      What are Latin ballroom dances called?
      What is a Latin ballroom dance? The list of social Latin styles is long. It includes such popular styles as Salsa, Bachata, Argentine Tango, Kizomba, and many others. The competition Latin dance program consists of Cha-Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, and Jive.

      What is the difference between ballroom and Latin dance?
      The question involves different conceptions. Ballroom dance means International Standard, American Smooth, International Latin, and American Rhythm. The latter two programs include Latin dances. They are meant for social presentations and competitions, so their distinctive feature is having more established and regulated rules and routines. When we speak about social Latin dance, the styles are more variable, and they don't require much experience and follow specific regulations.

      What is the best ballroom dance to learn first?
      If we speak about Latin ballroom dances, the best dance recommended to learn first is Rumba. Rumba is slower than other dances, and it is more straightforward. Moreover, it is very pleasant and spectacular. Its easy and smooth movements do not demand much stamina and body strength.

      If you are interested in the most professional dance acts for hire in Latin ballroom dance or other styles, or you want to test yourself in the role of a dancer, you are welcome to “Hips Don’t Lie.” Our talented Latin ballroom dancers and instructors will create an unforgettable atmosphere of music, joy, delight, and passion. You can order the best Latin ballroom dance performance that consists of 5 different dances.

      If you are interested and want to learn more, contact us now.

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