The term ‘Latin dance’ means a type of partner dancing that, with some exceptions, comes from Latin America. The styles of Latin dance are divided into two groups - dancesport ballroom dances and social (or street) Latin dancing. The former includes the cha-cha-cha, samba, rumba, paso doble, and jive (originated in the USA), while the latter consists of salsa, bachata, merengue, mambo, bomba, plena, and some others. Argentine tango also belongs to this style, however, it is a separate set of dances.
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A great Latin dance company that is involved in this industry can also offer you other dances that are very interesting as a part of cultural history. For example, you can encounter the Cuban danzon, chacarera from Argentina, Escondido, cueca, pericon, ranchera, candombe, morena da, caporales, and a more modern tinku. All of them come from Central and South American countries, such as Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, and Colombia.
If you want to know more about this type of dance, you are welcome to Hips Don’t Lie. We are one of the most outstanding Canadian dance companies that offer eye-catching performances, Latin dance classes with professionals, and shows for hire for various private and corporate occasions.
Now, let’s have a closer look at Latin dances and get truly engaged in their beauty, energy, and perfection.
History and Origins of Latin Dance Styles
No one knows for sure where the first Latin dancers stepped on the dance floor, though it is essential to answer the question ‘What is Latin dance?’ As a whole, it is a huge group of dance styles and routines whose place of origin is Latin America. All these dances have passionate rhythms of Latin music and breathtaking performances in common.
So, let’s look deeper into Latin dance history. The first seagoing explorers and conquistadores who sailed to Latin America were impressed by the group dance traditions of Aztecs, Aymara, Incas, Guarani, and other native ethnicities. They all were related to storytelling about such everyday activities as hunting, harvesting, or star watching. Many traditions as well were ritualized and devoted to deities. Catholic travelers brought stories of religious festivities and saints to these routines. The dancing style was quite uncommon for 16th-century Europe, so it was not well-accepted initially. However, Latin dance groups started appearing and widely spread in the 19th century.
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The cultural heritage of other nations influenced the dancing traditions very much. Thus, the Spanish folk dance depicting bullfighting became paso doble, while West African influences of the people who were brought to Europe in the 17th-18th centuries are observed in cha-cha-cha, rumba, salsa, and bachata. Such impact is characterized by more attention to the upper part of the body and the full-foot steps directed to the floor but not upward. Contractions and rotations, as well as bent knees and emphasized torso movements also have their origins in those folk influences.
The style was quite uncommon for European dances because at those times, all of them were performed by a male and female who were not allowed close contact. Latin dancers began to integrate individual, group, and pair dancing with more contact, speed, emotions, and passion.
The movement history, ear-catching rhythms, and festive atmosphere of every dance added a lot to what the Latin style looks like today. Every Latin energy dance company, such as Hips Don’t Lie in Toronto, strives to develop and modernize the dancing traditions. You will feel the true drive and compassion of ancient folk rhythms and the engaging stories behind them in every performance.
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Social Latin Dances and Their Popularity
The social Latin dance group included Salsa, Athentine Tango, Bachata, Mambo, Merengue, Kizomba, Reggaeton, and Zouk. There are also some others that are not so popular but can become a part of an excellent Latin dance performance. These dances do not require specific skills. That is why they have become so popular around the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Different Latin dances bring a lot of passionate stories and stunning emotions into their routines. People in Canada are also looking for Latin dance near me companies to enjoy the classes or entertainment acts for hire. We can provide you with both options due to our professional and dedicated dancers.
Salsa is probably the most common and widely popular social dance Latin type of dancing can offer. It developed as a unique style in the 1940s, following Afro-Cuban traditions.
Salsa has different kinds depending on the city where it is developing. You can find an authentic Latin dance troupe performing salsa in New York, Los Angeles, London, Vancouver, and, of course, Toronto. Eye-catching salsa festivals are held yearly around the world attracting a lot of tourists and professional and amateur dancers. Hips Don’t Lie offers fascinating salsa performances, so we are happy to be a part of this outstanding salsa culture.
Argentine tango was born in the poor quarters of Buenos Aires at the beginning of the 20th century. Its origin is not quite clear because it was even traced to miners working in remote locations and men dancing together to attract the attention of single women who were quite uncommon in those areas. It remains one of the most sensual and passionate Latin dances.
Later on, it became a sensation in Paris, Berlin, and London in 1911, moving quickly to New York City and Toronto. It is always a part of tango festivals and fascinating dance acts for hire offered by prominent performing companies.
The most prominent characteristic feature of bachata is its syncopated rhythm. The native place of this dance is the Dominican Republic. It originated in the 1960s. The music involves a heavy guitar emphasis, and it always refers to a story. Despite the drastic political influences during the years of dictatorship, dance and music broke through, and now bachata is well-known and loved by every Latin dancer and fan around the world.
Mambo is a Cuban dance that appeared in the 1940s together with the music genre known by the same name. The meaning of the word is the name of the god of war, and the ancient Cuban dancers of Latin origin used to perform the special ritual to ensure the patronage of this god. This dance is similar to cha-cha-cha and rumba in some elements, though it has more temperament and allows for more freedom in expressing passions and emotions. You know the rhythm of mambo from films, especially such notorious ones as ‘Mambo’ with Antonio Banderas and ‘Dirty dancing ‘ with Patrick Suezi.
The Merengue also originated in the Dominican Republic. Unlike Bachata, it was a favorite dance of the dictator Rafael Trujillo. Haiti was also enjoying this style. The dance has been evolving over the years, and many Latin dance companies, including our Hips Don’t Lie, are proud to have this dance as a part of our performance.
The name ‘Zouk’ means ‘a party’ or ‘a festival’ in French Creole. This style developed at the end of the 20th century from bright concert performances, fascinating costumes, and beautiful folk music of Haiti, the cape Verde, and Martinique. It combines the elements of the Haitian calypso style and the ‘black’ music of Angola. Every local Latin dance group includes this dance in its repertoire. The style has also enjoyed immense popularity in France, Brazil, the United States, and Canada. It is a part of every Latin festival.
Zouk is a completely social dance performed to three-count music with a focus on the upper part of the body, circular rotations, waving, and gracious turns of the head. The dance is very sensual and spectacular. You are sure to enjoy every second of it.
Kizomba is a new trend in Latin modern dance. It comes from Angola where it appeared in the 1980s. The style was mostly influenced by African ethnic rhythms and French Creole music.
The beginning of the 21st century saw the development of this dance. In general, it has the features of bachata, samba, and Argentine tango. However, the dance is calmer and smoother. The energy is flirtatious and romantic.
Modern youth love to dance it very much and are always ready to learn its routines to feel comfortable at parties. Kizomba is also a part of many Latin festivals.
So, what is a Latin dance called Reggaeton? It originated in Panama and Puerto Rico in 1970-1980, influenced by hip-hop, dancehall, and reggae. Then, it spread to the Caribbean and Latin America. In the late 1990s, Reggaeton was distinguished as a unique style and became quite popular in the USA.
The characteristic features of this dance are reggae rhythms, Spanish lyrics, and a bit of aggressive sexuality. El General and Nando Boom were the founders of this dancing direction.
Bomba is a name of specific drums made from rum barrels. Two or more drums create the rhythm for this dance. It is traditional in Puerto Rico and represents a mixture of Spanish, African, and Indian traditions. The dance is a competition between a percussionist, singer, and dancer. Prominent Latin dance groups perform it at festivals and special events.
Musicians here do not perform on their own but follow the dancers. The vocals are performed by a soloist and the choir. This dance is extremely popular in Puerto Rico, and it has already found its way to New York and Toronto. We are happy to let you get acquainted with it.
Plena appeared in the workers’ quarters of Ponce, in Puerto Rico, one hundred years ago. It has a 4/4 pace and is danced to a panderet (a sort of tambourine). This Latin dance routine has African American origin with small additions of Puerto Rican and Caribbean features and European traditions further on. Musical bands from Puerto Rico and New York gave plena a fresh breath in the 1990s. The music sound and the dance became new and modern, making it unique and quite attractive.
Latin Ballroom Dances and Their Attraction
So, what is Latin dancing in dance sports? The standard Latin dance program consists of 5 dances. It was adopted in 1930 by the World Dance Sport Federation and includes cha-cha-cha, samba, rumba, paso doble, and jive.
The ballroom Latin dancing routines imply performance in pairs with both separate and close contact between a man and a woman. All of them are pretty rhythmic, emotional, and sensual. As a Latin dance company, we are ready to represent the classes and fascinating entertainment acts to you.
This Latin dance means flirtation. The style originated in Cuba and spread all over the world due to its liveliness and strong musical appeal. The original Cuban routine is sensual and a bit teasing. The music is quite popular and it has become a favorite among many popular musical artists.
Samba originated in Brazil. It has always been a part of Rio carnival Celebrations. Dancers are known as Sambistas. Modern routines were developed in Rio in the 19th century, and at the beginning of the 20th century, samba was considered a unique dancing style that paved the way for the ballroom dancing program in 1930. Our Latin dance troupe has this dance in its repertoire, trying to preserve all the colorfulness and beauty of the Brazilian carnival.
The history of this Latin dance is rich and interesting. Initially, it was traced back to African tribal dances and then accepted as the most sensuous and sultry dance in Cuba. Since rumba is often considered the grandfather of Latin dancing, it has become immensely popular in the USA in the 1920s. The emotional love story in movements is what we can see today.
The name Paso Doble comes from Spanish and it is ‘two steps.’ The meaning of this Latin dance is usually associated with corrida. They say the partner represents a torero and a woman is his cloak. However, the inner understanding of its routines is much deeper. It is passion and continuous conflict between love and hatred, a man and a woman, good and evil.
The dance was performed in France in 1920 and became a favorite in the Parisian high-class community in the 1930s. That is why many parts of its routine have French names. It was included in the ballroom program only after WWII.
The origin of jive is African American. It appeared in the USA at the beginning of the 1940s. Actually, it is a swing with very quick and abrupt movements. Being the last in the competitive program, jive makes up its apotheosis. It requires a lot of dancing skills and physical fitness, and many Latin dance teams prefer not to include it in their performances if they are not related to any contest.
What are five Latin dances?
If we speak about the ballroom competitive Latin dances, the program consists of cha-cha-cha, samba, rumba, paso doble, and jive. Social Latin dances involve many more.
What is the most common Latin dance?
Salsa is considered to be the most common Latin dance worldwide. The special salsa festivals are held yearly in different parts of the globe, and thousands of dancers take part in them.
Which is the fastest Latin dance?
Samba is the fastest Latin dance in the ballroom program, while mambo is the fastest one in the social dance program.
What is the most romantic Latin dance?
Rumba is the most romantic Latin dance. Its modern routines include a wide spectrum of senses, emotions, and passions.
We Invite You to Latin Dance Classes and Full Enjoyment
Here we are with the most common Latin dance types and styles. The perfect Latin dance performance includes most of them. The beautiful and energetic rhythms, bright costumes, and mastery of our professional dancers will amaze you.
Hips Don’t Lie offers you the best Latin dance performance with five different styles in one show if you are looking for Latin dance troupes for hire near me. Or you can learn how to dance yourself with our professional dance teachers. We are happy to see you at our studio in Toronto.