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red-fleur-de-lis-mdThe Latin Dances
ha Cha - Rumba - Samba - Paso Doble - Jive

The Samba, Rumba, Cha cha, Paso Doble from Europe and the East Coast Swing (jive) from North America have been singled out and are now performed all over the world as Latin-American dances in international DanceSport competitions, as well as being danced socially. These dances are for couples, usually each consisting of a man and a lady. The holds vary from figure to figure in these dances, sometimes in closed ballroom hold, sometimes with the partners holding each other with only one hand. The figures in these dances are standardized and categorized into various levels for teaching, with internationally agreed vocabularies, techniques, rhythms and tempos. But it was not always so. These "Latin-American" dances were only been introduced into Western-European society in the twentieth century, and have some diverse origins in previous eras.


The Rumba originates from Cuba as a typical dance of a hot climate. It has become the classic of all the Latin American dances. In its present form many of the basic figures of the dance retain the age-old story of woman's attempt to dominate man by the use of her feminine charm. In a well-choreographed dance there will always be an element of "tease and run," the man being lured and then rejected.
Rumba is composed of three rhythms: Guaguanc, Yamb, Columbia.
When you point out that Rumba is about feminine charm it is not quite like that. Actually Rumba is a fertility dance and thorough time it has broken down into three classes (in Cuba, of course).
In Guaguanc, the male tries to "penetrate" the female and the female responds, (of course, only dancing). In Yamb, the female just flirts but at the end "backs out" and refuses the pelvic thrust of the male dancer. Columbia is a later development and danced only in very few country towns.


Cha-cha-cha is the newcomer of the Latin American dances. This dance was first seen in the dancehalls of America, in the early fifties, following closely Mambo, from which it was developed. Shortly after the Mambo was introduced, another rhythm started to gain popularity, a rhythm that was ultimately to become the most commonly known of the Latin American dances throughout the world. It was named Cha-cha-cha. The music is slower than Mambo and the rhythm is less complicated. The interpretation of Cha-Cha-Cha music should produce a happy, carefree, cheeky, party-like atmosphere. Recently it was decided to shorten the name to Cha-Cha.


Samba originates from Brazil where it is a national dance. Many versions of the Samba - from Baion (pronounce: Bajao) to Marcha - are danced at the local carnival in Rio. To achieve the true character of the Samba a dancer must give it a gay, flirtatious and exuberant interpretation. Many figures, used in the Samba today, require a pelvic tilt action. This action is difficult to accomplish, but without it the dance loses much of its effect.
Before 1914 it was known under a Brazilian name "Maxixe." The first attempts of introducing samba to European ballrooms are dated 1923-24, but it was after the World War II when samba became a popular dance in Europe.
Samba has a very specific rhythm, highlighted to its best by characteristic Brazilian musical instruments: originally called tamborim, chocalho, reco-reco and cabaca.

Jive (ECS)

Jive, brought over from America was initially developed from a dance called "jitterbug" by eliminating all its acrobatic elements and polishing the technique. The first description of Jive made by London dance teacher Victor Sylvester was published in Europe in 1944. The boogie, rock & roll and the American swing also influenced this dance. Jive is a very fast, energy-consuming dance. It is the last dance danced at the competitions, and dancers have to show that after having already danced four times, they are not tired and ready to go hard at it.
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Brian and Summer

Brian "B" and his partner Summer. Several time American Rhythm Rising Star Finalists