Dance Lessons

 

We offer three ways to learn ballroom — private lessons, group classes and social dance parties—and we encourage you to try all three in order to accelerate your learning. And for our competitive dancers looking to sharpen their edge, we offer DanceSport coaching.

What’s That Dance?

American Style Smooth

Waltz is a smooth progressive dance characterized by long, flowing movements, continuous turns, and rise & fall. Graceful and elegant, Waltz dancers glide around the floor almost effortlessly. The American style is punctuated with lavish open movements, underarm turns, and solo spins. The tempo is slow and the expressive quality of the music often invites very powerful and dynamic movement from dancers.

Tango is earthy and dramatic. Although walking movements dominate, Tango walks, having a “stalking” or “sneaking” character, are unlike the walks of other ballroom dances. Movements are sometimes slow and slithery, and other times sharp and stacatto, such as a quick foot flick or a sharp head snap to promenade position. Tango has the same counter-clockwise flow of movement around the dance floor, but with a lesser sense of urgency in comparison to the smoother and more continuous Foxtrot.

Foxtrot is a smooth progressive dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor. The American style version of the Foxtrot takes many forms: The Bronze level Foxtrot, truest to the original Harry Fox version, is a simple combination of walks and chasses ideal for social dancing. Silver American Foxtrot adds continuity, taking on the quality of its International counterpart. And with the possibility of open, apart, and side by side movements, the Gold level Foxtrot resembles the beautiful style of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers.

Viennese Waltz is characterized by its high speed and revolving turns. It has rise and fall as in slow Waltz, but to a significantly lesser degree. It is pure magic to see a large crowd dancing this elegant dance.

International Style Standard

The basic Waltz patterns are the foundation for most ballroom dances. The elegant sweeping movement of the Waltz develops strong balance and control, and the ability to move with ease. Correct posture, rise and fall, and smooth movements should be stressed to achieve good styling. Waltz remains to this day as the standard “honour dance” at various formal occasions, weddings, anniversaries and graduations.

The Tango is one of the most beautiful of all the dances. It is characterized by earthy and dramatic movements. In order to achieve the distinctive style of Tango, it is important to develop controlled staccato footwork along with fluid graceful movements. The unique rhythm of the music is great training for timing and phrasing which develops as the dancer becomes more proficient. Tango practice is essential towards becoming a good dancer.

Slow Foxtrot can begin as a basic dance from which you can acquire a strong foundation of movement. Learning to combine steps easily and smoothly teaches variety and maneuverability. The Fox Trot provides a good foundation for all dances and is sometimes called the “get-acquainted” or “first impression” dance. As this dance develops it ultimately becomes an extremely skilled dance that can be challenging at the highest levels.

Viennese Waltz is the dance which most conjurs up images of classic formal “ballroom dancing”. It is the only ballroom dance that predates the 20th century and its music was perfected by such wonderful composers as Johann Strauss. Viennese Waltz has developed into an elegant, smooth and gliding dance. Standard Viennese Waltz uses a minimum of patterns, and retains the essence of grace and elegance.

Quickstep is the English version of the fast Fox Trot and was originally called the “QuickTime Foxtrot and Charleston.” Today it is a dynamic, fast Standard dance with quick hopping steps set in with the smoother gliding figures.

American Style Rhythm

Cha Cha is a lively, sassy latin dance which originated in Cuba. Cha Cha became a popular social ballroom dance in the United States in the early 1950’s. Cha Cha is either danced to authentic Latin music, or more contemporary Latin Pop or Latin Rock. The music is energetic and with a steady 4/4 beat. American Style Cha Cha is usually danced slightly slower than its International Style counterpart with a very slightly “delayed” action when moving over the supporting leg, allowing for a more continuously rhythmical interpretation.
Rumba is a sensuous dance that can be either romantic and understated or showy and dramatic. The American-style Rumba is usually danced at a slightly faster tempo than its International Style counterpart and with a more continuously rhythmical body action. This style focuses on the Cuban motion, which requires the bending and straightening of the knee in order to achieve the desired hip-swaying movement.
Swing, sometimes referred to as Jive, Jitterbug, Rock-n-Roll or Boogie Woogie, is more formally known in North America as the East Coast Swing. The Swing is extremely adaptable, danced with a carefree style and a lot of circular rotation. The various possible rhythms are excellent training for quick footwork and spontaneity, adding comfort and ease to other rhythm dances. Once mastered, the East Coast Swing in its varied forms is fun and exciting to learn and practice.
Mambo arose from a fusion of Cuban and jazz music characterized by a stirring Afro-Cuban beat. Mambo is an exciting, earthy dance, similar in its basic structure to Salsa, with more highly staccatto styling and more “grounding” into the floor. Good Mambo dancers are always popular and in demand as partners. The exciting music and rhythmical body movements make the Mambo irresistible.
Merengue always has festive party appeal and is essential for dancing at a Latin Club or in preparation for a tropical vacation destination. Merengue is also a terrific foundation Latin dance which develops the “cuban motion” body action essential for all Latin dancing. The simple timing makes it easy to feel the music and adapt to any partner.
Samba is considered the dance of celebration and joy at Carnival celebrations in Rio. Partner Samba has a quick beat that requires fast footwork. The main characteristics of the Samba are rapid steps taken on quarter beats and a rocking, swaying motion of the dancers. The major action of Samba, the “Samba Bounce Action,” gives the dance its unique look and feel.

Social / Club Style

Hustle originated during the 1970s disco era and although the white suits and gold chains have long since faded away, the dance has stayed, giving us the fusion of Swing and disco. In its simplest form, it is a dance where even a moderately-skilled leader can lead virtually anyone right away. Largely because of its tremendous adaptability to social dance music, the Hustle is still one of the most popular nightclub dances across North America today.

Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce,” denoting a “spicy and hot” flavor to this popular dance style. It is derived from Mambo and its exciting music also reflects the fusion of an Afro-Cuban beat with enhanced jazz textures. Salsa is a casual, adapatable dance with varied texturing and is a ‘must learn’ for anyone planning to go to a latin club or travel to a Latin American destination.

The Argentine Tango is a social dance and a musical genre that originated in Argentina. This style was developed in different regions and eras, and in response to the crowding of the venue and even the fashions in clothing. It is danced in an embrace that can vary from very open, in which leader and follower connect at arms length, to very closed, in which the connection is chest-to-chest, or anywhere in between. Argentine Tango relies heavily on improvisation.

This dance was introduced to society in 1844. Every now and then, it enjoys a revival because of it’s boisterous charm. The basic step consists of a preparatory hop followed by a chasse. The Polka is still danced quite often throughout North America, particularly in more rural areas. You might hear one or two played at special events such as weddings.

International Style Latin

Cha Cha’s syncopated rhythm is adapatable to many modern pop and dance songs. Today’s Cha Cha is very exciting to dance and to watch, featuring fast footwork, lots of rotation, and dazzling patterns. At it’s highest level it has tremendous speed, sharp leg actions and a playful, flirtatious personality.

International Style Rumba is danced at a slower tempo than its American Style counterpart. This tempo difference give the two styles a very different feel. The basic count in International Style Rumba is QQS, but it begins on the second beat, a musical interpretation it shares with Mambo and Cha Cha.

Walking steps and side steps are the basic components of Samba using a triple rhythm often counted “1-a-2”. One major characteristic of the Samba is the vertical bounce action, a unique element distinguishing it from all other latin dances. Knee action along with body sway and “pendulum motion” makes the accomplished dancer look effortless and carefree.
Paso Doble is the dance depicting the bullfight, with the male as the matador and the female representing the cape. The name is of Spanish origin, translating as “two step” and was originally a Spanish folk dance. Today it is a highly dramatic and flamboyant show dance performed in competitionand is rarely, if ever, danced as a social dance.
The basic look and feel of Jive is lots and lots of energy, with the legs portraying a pumping action. Jive is a very happy, “boppy”, energetic dance, with plenty of knee-lifting, bending, and rocking of the hips. The fastest of the Latin dances, Jive incorporates lots of kicks and flicks, and fast turns.