Latin dances can be interpreted in two distinct ways within the realms of Street and Ballroom dancing. Unfortunately, confusion often arises among the public due to the scarcity of dance education and what is seen on TV. It is essential to recognise that these are two vastly different dance styles, each with its own unique history and characteristics. Notably, the distinctions become evident when observing the movements involved. To provide a clearer perspective, we have included videos that visually illustrate these differences.
#1 Street Latin Dancing
The primary interpretation of Street Latin dance revolves around its authentic roots in Latin American, Afro, Caribbean, Spanish, French and Portuguese cultures. These captivating dances include Salsa, Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, Axé, New York Mambo, Argentine Tango, Merengue, Forro, Lambada, Kizomba, Caribbean Zouk, Bachata, Cumbia, Bolero, Son, and more. These dance styles do not have an organisation governing them. These dances emphasize the essence of true lead and follow dynamics, creating a social and freestyle atmosphere. By "freestyle," we mean that the moves are not pre-choreographed; instead, the leader crafts or adapts the movements and turn patterns spontaneously, and both the leader and follower interpret the music uniquely for each dance. During a social night, participants usually dance with anyone, fostering a dynamic and inclusive environment. One notable distinction is that these dances encourage creativity and individual expression, as they are not governed by a centralized body or organization, unlike Latin Ballroom. This freedom has resulted in a significant surge of innovation within these dance styles. Another characteristic feature of Street Latin dances is their connection to the ground, allowing for a flowing and grounded movement. Furthermore, the hip and body movements in Street Latin differ significantly from those in Ballroom styles. It is worth noting that in their traditional form, Brazilian Samba No Pe and Rumba are not considered partner dances.
While Street Latin dance predominantly thrives on social dancing, it also extends into the realm of competitions and performances through choreographed routines as below.
#2 Latin Ballroom Dancing
The second application, concerns a specific category of International style ballroom dances known as Latin Ballroom, Latin American dances, International Latin, or Dance Sport. These dance forms originated in England and are governed by organizations such as WDC & WDSF, among others. Drawing inspiration from street style dances, they were introduced to infuse excitement and flair into the Ballroom scene, often adopting similar names like 'The Rhumba', 'The Salsa', 'The Tango', and others, with the prefix "The" preceding the name of each dance style. It's worth noting that these styles are generally incompatible with Street Latin dances due to significant differences in fundamentals, style, body movement, leading, and following.
The Latin Ballroom category primarily comprises five dances: 'The Cha cha cha', 'The Rhumba', 'The Samba', 'The Paso Doble', and 'The Jive'. It's crucial to understand that while many Ballroom dances may be influenced by Latin American origins, most of them are interpretations, rather than direct representations of the dance styles. In contrast to traditional social dances with a lead and follow dynamic, Latin Ballroom places greater emphasis on competitions, performances, and TV shows, such as "Dancing with the Stars". Couples typically remain together for these events and don't engage in social dancing as commonly seen in Latin Street Styles. The term "Dance Sport" was introduced in attempts to classify it as a sport for potential inclusion in the Olympic Games which was unsuccessful.
Latin Ballroom dancing is characterized by an upright posture and sharp movements. Moreover, the hip and body movements in this style differ significantly from those seen in street style Latin dancing.
We want to clarify that we do not claim one dance style is superior to the other; rather, we believe it is essential for people to be informed about the distinctions so they can make well-informed decisions about their preferences. Trying both dance styles might be a great way to discover which one resonates with you.
Our dance instructors at 'Salsa Latina' excel in Street Latin Dance #1, a highly popular style in modern Salsa nightclubs worldwide. It is important to note that our teachings are exclusively dedicated to Street Latin Dance #1 and have no connection with Ballroom Styles & Dance Sport whatsoever.
Most partner dances, including the ones mentioned above, share universal basics that can be traced back to the original Waltz. The Waltz, a social dance originating from Europe, has been incorporated into "Dance Sport," but it continues to thrive independently outside of this organization, maintaining its own unique ballroom style.
Dances like Bolero, Son, Bachata, Semba, Forro, Tango, and others have evolved, grown, and intermingled across the globe, influenced by various music and cultures. However, it's fascinating to observe the similarities these dances still have with the original Waltz. Each dance has been adapted and shaped by its respective culture, reflecting its own identity, and it's crucial to respect these unique expressions.
Overall, it is reasonable to assert that partner dancing originated from the Waltz and Volta in Europe during the 1500s. The roots of these dances continue to influence and inspire the diverse and evolving world of partner dance today. ...see the full article here >