Dictionary of Dance
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ALEGRIAS: The Alegrias is one of the oldest of Spanish Gypsy dances and is often called the “Queen” of Flamenco dances. It is the purest and more refined of the repertoire. It suggests the movements of the bullfight and is usually danced by a woman alone.
ALLEMANDE: An 18th century dance. Also a figure used in our present day Barn dances.
APACHE: A dance created in Paris by the people of the underworld. It portrayed their uninhibited passions. The woman was flung about, kicked or embraced with equal fervor. This style was later imitated in Tangos or Waltzes.
ARGENTINIAN TANGO: Originated in the West Indies where it was danced only by the lowest classes. The name is from the African Tanganya. The dance found its way into Argentina and then to France and finally into the United States in a modified form about 1914. Latin American ballroom Tango is danced in 4/4 time. NOTE: See also Continental Tango, English Tango, and Tango.
ARKANSAS TRAVELER: An old time Barn dance depicting a salesman of tin ware who came from Arkansas.
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BAION: A type of slow Samba rhythm from Brazil that became popular in North America during the 50’s.
BACHATA: A music related in rhythm to the Rumba and Bolero usually with a strong electric guitar . Also a dance to this music using alternating chasses and taps.
BALBOA: A form of Swing popularized during the 50’s in California.
BAMBA: An old Mexican air from the province of Vera Cruz, Mexico, to which a charming folk dance depicts two lovers who throwing a narrow sash on the floor manage to tie it into a knot with their dancing feet.
BAMBUCA: The national dance of Colombia, South America. It is characterized by cross accents in the music. It was formerly danced only by the natives but became a ballroom dance to be added to the gentle Pasillo, a favorite with Colombian society.
BARN DANCES: Barn dances are the product of our colonial ancestors who recreated them from England’s Country Dances. They were performed in halls and barns as get-togethers among America’s first social gatherings.
BATUQUE: Afro-Brazilian jam sessions. In the Batuque the dancers form a circle around one performer. This solo dancer chooses his successor for the exhibition spot while shouting the word “Sama.”
BEGUINE: A type of Rumba in which the accent is on the second eighth note of the first beat. Origins spring from Martinique and Cuba.
BIG APPLE: This dance originated in a church in South Carolina which had been turned into a black nightclub called the “Big Apple.” Mr. Arthur Murray did the choreography as we know it. The dance includes all the earlier Swing steps and requires a caller. The caller shouts “Shine” and asks for one of the swing steps. A single couple steps into the center and takes the initiative by performing an exhibition of that popular step. This dance was very popular in the 1930’s.
BLACK BOTTOM: Created in New York, circa 1926. This dance succeeded the Charleston. It may have originally come from New Orleans as did Jazz music. The stomping steps, the knee sway and the shuffling are definitely African American in origin. It was the black solo or couple dance about 1925.
BOLERO: Originally a Spanish dance in 3/4 time, it was changed in Cuba initially into 2/4 time then eventually into 4/4. It is now present as a very slow type of Rumba rhythm. The music is frequently arranged with Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually implemented with Conga or Bongos.
BOLERO SON: Just what the name implies. It starts as a Bolero and finished as a Son. The Son is faster, with sharper percussion and is less subtle than the Bolero.
BOOGIE WOOGIE: African American jazz dance. The knees are held close together and the hips sway from side-to-side as the dancer travels forward. This figure is now seen in a variety of rhythm dances including Mambo, Cha Cha and Swing.
BOOMPS-A-DAISY: A dance similar to the Lambeth Walk. The dancers bump hips at regular intervals. It is performed in Waltz time to one special tune. 1940.
BOSTON JIVE: This is a form of Swing similar to basic Lindy but with kicks added.
BOSSA NOVA: The music was born of a marriage of Brazilian rhythms and American Jazz. The dance, which is said to have originated at Carnegie Hall in 1961, is based on the slower, more subtle Salon Samba and features either type of Clave Beat or a Jazz Samba in 4/4 time.
BOTECITA: The “Little Boat.” It is Cuban dancing with a very exaggerated swaying of the shoulders.
BULERIAS: A Spanish Gypsy dance. Livelier and more spirited than most of the repertoire. It’s usually danced by a whole group and could be called a Flamenco jam-session.
BUNNY HOP: This dance resembles the Conga line but has three jumps instead of a kick at the end of the phrase. The music is Ray Anthony. 1953.
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CAKE WALK: The Cake Walk is said to have originated in Florida about 1880. The style of walking was practiced by the African Americans as an art. The dignity of the promenade was rewarded by a prize, usually a cake. The winner cut the cake and shared it with the others.
CALUPSO: The music of the typical ballads in England sung by the natives of Trinidad. There was no real dance but because of the extreme popularity of the music, in 1956, possibly due to the singer Harry Bellafonte, many steps were created. Most of them resemble the Cuban Bolero or the Martinique Beguine or even Swing.
CAN CAN: In Paris about 1890 a dance caused quite a stir. It was the Can Can. Women kicked their black silk stocking legs high into the air – a most daring feat for the time. The Can Can may have been an off-shoot of the Polka or even the Quadrille, or both. Today it is a music hall routine danced only by women.
CARIOCA: A native of Rio de Janeiro. Also the abbreviation of the Brazilian dance, the Samba Carioca. At the Carioca Carnival, from the moment the music starts until it dies off, people get together in cordoes (chains or cues). Holding hands in this fashion they sing and sway their bodies to the Samba-Carioca and the Marchas.
CAROLINA SHAG: A very popular Swing style from Virginia down through the Carolinas into areas of Georgia. Most often danced to “Beach Music” performed by such groups as the Tams, The Embers, The Drifters and a wide range of “Motown” recording artists. The dance showcases the man and resembles West Coast Swing with the same slot movement, shuffles, coaster steps and pronounced lean resulting in role of the partner movement. The music tempo is slow to medium and can be danced comfortably by all ages.
CASTLE WALK: The Castle Walk was first greeted and demonstrated at the Cafe de Paris in France by Irene & Vernon Castle in 1913 and introduced to New York society by then in 1914. The dance was characterized by a series of walking steps on the toes, executed with an elegant type of swagger – frequently punctuated with a light hop in attitude at an appropriate point in the musical phase.
CHA CHA: From the less inhibited night clubs and dance halls the Mambo underwent subtle changes. It was triple mambo, and then peculiar scraping and shuffling sounds during the “tripling” produced the imitative sound of Cha Cha Cha. This then became a dance in itself. Mambo or triple Mambo or Cha Cha as it is now called, is but an advanced stage in interpretive social dancing born of the fusion of progressive American and Latin music.
CHIPANECAS: A Mexican Folk dance from the province of Chiapas. Its popularity is due to the charming air plus the audience participation during the time the dancers request the audience to clap hands with them. It is in 3/4 time and based on Spanish patterns.
CHARLESTON: Originated in the early 20’s in illegal drinking places during the time of prohibition. The combination of a particular type of jazz music and the highly polished, slippery floors of the Speakeasies gave rise to an in and out flicking of the feet which essentially characterized the dance. It was theatricized and embellished with typical vaudeville moves in a Ziegfield Follies production in 1921. It has since been featured in many films and theater productions, its most platant revival being its utilization within the Broadway musical “The Boy Friend.”
CLOGGING: A freestyle dance style originating in the Blue Ridge Mountains characterized by double time stomping and tap steps resembling a tap dance with the upper body held straight and upright.
COMPARSA: Afro-Cuban dance play.
CONGA: An African-Cuban dance characterized by the extreme violence of accents on the strong beats in 2/4 time. The Conga beat thus used has a rhythmic anticipation of the second beat in every other measure. The Conga was very popular in the late thirties. It was performed in a formation known as the Conga chain. The steps are simple, one, two, three, kick at which time the partners move away from each other.
CONTINENTAL OR INTERNATIONAL TANGO: A refined, technical version of the Argentine Tango. It is probably the most demanding of all smooth dances to execute. It calls for perfect control, phrasing and musicianship. The subtle movements, changes of weight and the design of the steps are never stilted but follow the melodic phrasing and are created anew with each new piece.
CONTRE DANSE: A French square dance in double time, introduced into the court about 1600. Forerunner of the Country Dance.
CORRIDOS: The musical ballads called the Corridos play a very important part in Latin American musical life. The words are often topical and relate to political events. It has been suggested that the word Corrido is derived from the word correr, to run, because the singer has to run for his life when caught in the process of reciting a subversive ditty. Corridos are particularly popular in Mexico.
COTTON-EYED-JOE: A Country & Western dance enjoyed throughout the United States and elsewhere for its enthusiastic music and energetic movements. Characteristic movements include kicks, stomps, shuffles, and turns in place or traveling around the room. The man and the lady generally begin in shadow position with the left foot and they use the same foot on the same beat of music throughout their patterns.
COUNTRY DANCE: English Folk dances as opposed to the court dances of bygone times. During the Colonial days of America these Country dances became our present day square dance, jig reels, as well as our Virginia Reel, Arkansas Traveler and Paul Jones.
COUNTRY WESTERN TWO-STEP: The Two-Step originated in the 1800’s by people who arrived here from Europe. It was an offspring of the minuet and they danced it as QQSS. In the old Western days when women were not allowed to dance with men, men danced together and that is the reason for the hard on the shoulder holding a can of beer and the other hand to the side. The only women who eventually danced with these men were Indian Squaws and that is where all the turns came about, because Indian women loved to spin. Two-step is a Western dance whose popularity has spread all over the United States.
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DANZON: A Cuban dance which starts slowly and gradually accelerates at certain melodic intervals between chorus and verse: the dancers stop to talk but remain on the floor until a certain beat tells them to resume their dances. This dance, which might be called a Rumba variation is in a 4/4 time. Its stately music is popular in the tropics because it is not strenuous. It is know as the aristocrat of all Cuban dancing because of its dignified and stately appearance.
DIRTY DANCIN’: A general style of very intimate closed position partner dancing popularized in the late 80’s by Actor/Dancer Patrick Swayze in the movie “Dirty Dancin'”. Danced to popular fast or slow music and characterized by sensuous and seductive movements by both man and woman.
DOMINICAN MERENGUE: The dance of the Dominican Republic is 2/4 time with syncopation of the first beat interpreted by the dancers as a slight limp. It became popular in 1957.
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ENGLISH TANGO: The style is the same as the other English Competition dances, and the steps are not too unlike Fox Trot steps with a few Latin flourishes as interpreted by English dance teachers.
ESCONDIDO: An Argentine dance called Escondido (literally hidden for in it the female partner hides from the male) belongs to the Gato type rhythmically and choreographically.
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FADO: Originally a Portuguese song and dance absorbed by Latin America and especially by Brazil as a pattern for the Samba. The steps of the Fado are based on a hop, a skip and a kick in 2/4 time. It makes a charming exhibition folk dance.
FANDANGO: Most important of the modern Spanish dances, for couples. The dance begins slowly and tenderly, the rhythm marked by the clack of castanets, snapping of fingers, and stomping of feet. The speed gradually increases to a whirl of exhilaration. There is a sudden pause in the music toward the end of each figure when the dancers stand rigid in the attitude caught by the music. They move again only when the music is resumed. This is also characteristic of Seguidillas, similar to Jota.
FARANDOLE: A dance Haute from Provence, France. A typical variation was a quick gallop step danced by a procession winding in and out in single file, headed by a musician who played a drum and fife at the time skipping along without losing a beat. 6/8 or 4/4 time.
FARUCA: The dance of Spain most suited to a man. It is a pure Gypsy dance in 2/4 time consisting of heel work, fast double turns and falls. It is considered one of the most exciting of all the same Flamenco dances.
FISH: A popular dance done to Fox Trot music in 4/4 time (New Orleans jazz type music) whereby the dancers rock their pelvis forward and back balancing on one foot and then the other in a slow gyrating manner. Originated in 1961.
FOX TROT: Said by some to have been originated by Harry Fox (1913). It is now a standard ballroom dance the world over and serves as a good foundation for social dances in 2/4 or 4/4 time. NOTE: See also Two Step.
FREESTYLE: Ad lib dance movements with no fixed structure. Danced without touching partner to a variety of music styles including Rock ‘n Roll, and discotheque beats.
FRUG: The Frug was born from a dance called the Chicken which had a lateral body movement and was used as a change of pace during the Twist. So as the kids grew lazier they decided to do less work, and started moving only their hips while standing still. As the hips swing from side to side they started making up arm movements for the dance. From this came the Swim, the Monkey, the Dog, the Watusi, the Waddle or Wabble and the Jerk. Some of these dances are named with localities. What we call the Frug is often called the Surf, Big Bea and Thunderbird, with the Swim being born out of it. What we call the Watusi is also known as Wabble and Waddle. The Monkey, Dog, Bump and Jerk fall roughly into the same category.
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GALOP: Hungary seems to take credit as the birthplace of the Galop. It was an old time dance, often introduced at the Country dances or following a Volte and Contra Danse as a contrast to their slow and somewhat monotonous steps. In 2/4 time, it was a springy step with a glissade and a chasse.
GATO: Argentine dance performed by two couples. In rhythm it resembles a very fast Waltz in steady quarter notes. A very popular form is the Gato con Pelaciones – that is Gato with stories. The stories are the diversified content; amorous, philosophical or political.
GAVOTTE: This dance comes from France. During the 16th Century it was customary for the leading couple to kiss each other and everyone else in the room at the end of their special “Shine”. It finally became a stage dance. Although it has a long and varied history it is still charming and has been used by modern composers for chamber music.
GRIZZLY BEAR: In this dance the woman threw and wrapped herself around her partner in what at that time 1900-1910 must have been most shocking. A disappointingly simple ragtime dance followed its daring overture.
GUAJIRA: This dance was originally a Andalusian dance derived from Sevillanos. This dance which was played in 3/4 or 6/8 time was a Cuban Country dance as well, performed in Conga rhythm to the music marked Son Guajira. In ballroom terminology a Rumba is slow to medium tempo, or danced as a very slow Cha Cha, with subtle body movements.
GUARACHA: This lively Cuban song and dance of Spanish origin is performed in 2/4 time and danced by the more expert and agile dancers only, as its speed is rather imposing. a) An old Spanish dance in two sections. One is lively triple and the other in double. It originally was played in 4/4 time. b) A modern Rumba usually played very fast.
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HAITIAN MERENGUE: Haitian music stems directly from African rhythms. Divested of mysticisms, its traditions and beliefs from the folkloric basis from which the Haitian Merengue derived. It is simple and smooth in its slow version and can be colorful and exciting in its faster forms.
HAUPANGO: The Mexican Haupango is ultimately traced to the Spanish Son, but its rhythm is definitely of the New World. The Haupango combines 2/4 time with 3/4 time and 6/8 time, creating cross rhythms of great complexity. It makes a most interesting lively dance.
HESITATION WALTZ: This dance is reputed to have developed in Boston. Apparently, the dance masters who were responsible for the evening’s program at society functions gained favor with their socialite clients by imposing as much restraint as possible on the dances and creating an obviously reserved interpretation. The Waltz, in particular, became a target of this type of constraint and what was considered to be a flamboyant expression, at that time, induced by the blatant rotation of the dance was effectively curbed by taking a step and hesitating for two beats before proceeding with a conventional Waltz figure or another hesitation. The dance was introduced to New York society by Vernon Castle between 1911 and 1914. It was later standardized by Arthur Murray who taught it as a fundamental social dance for several decades giving some of the figures such names as the Yale, the Biltmore and the Arthur Murray Turn.
HULA: Originally a sacred dance of Hawaii supposedly created by the younger volcano Kala to please his sister Pele. In due time its varied interpretation also served to please the visiting sailors which did not please the missionaries who promptly banned it. Despite this blight, it has revived and is now more popular than ever. It is in 4/4 meter, interprets stories by the use of arms, hands and facial expression. The basic step is a chasse’ during which the hips undulate.
HUSTLE OR SWING HUSTLE: A number if similar style disco dances which had its beginning in the mid-70’s and enjoys some continuing popularity as a swing style today. The record “Do The Hustle” was followed by the movie “Saturday Night Fever.” The movie portrayal of partner dancing by John Travolta to the popular beat of top selling music from the Bee Gees and the introduction to America of the Discotheque setting, popular for some years in Europe, took America by storm. Flashing lights, mirrors everywhere, loud throbbing beat, and high fashion were in. Large numbers of popular Discos sprang up in every city and everyone was waiting in line to dance.
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IBO: The Ibo rhythm belongs to the faster Haitian Merengue group of dancers. It is colorful, native in style and can be classified as “Caribbean dancing.” A pronounced movement of hips and turning of the head is typical.
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JARABE: The Jarabes are typical Mexican Folk dances. Usually done by a couple, it depicts a flirtation and conquest. It is well known in America by its other name, “The Mexican Hat Dance.” The Mexican Jarabe is a descendant of the Spanish Zapateado, and its rhythm resembles that of a Mazurka. It is in 3/4 time.
JARANA: Folk dance of Yucatan, Mexico. It is possibly closer to the melo-rhythmic foundation of the ancient Mexican songs than any other native air. The verses of the Jarana are often in the Mayan language. The word Jarana means merry chatter. It is exciting in its rhythm based on a combination of 6/8 and 3/4 time. As an exhibition ballroom dance it can be placed alongside La Raspa and La Bamba, its cousins.
JITTERBUG: A toned down version of a Lindy Hop which is faster and happier than the American Rock ‘n’ Roll or Swing.
JIVE: International competitive Swing dance with elements of the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug. Characterized by uptempo single time music danced with triple steps done primarily on the toes with very lively movement.
JOTA: Native folk dance Aragon, Spain. Performed usually by one or more couples and consisting of hoppy steps in 3/4 time.
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KANKUKUS: Afro-Brazilian dances of the Mestiso Indians.
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LA CUECA: La Cueca is a Chilian dance written in 6/8 time with the accompaniment in 3/4 time. Originally it was danced with handkerchiefs only, but during recent years it has enjoyed popularity on the ballroom floor.
LA RASPA: A Mexican dance from Vera Cruz, which reminds us of our own square dancing except that it has a peculiar hopping step of its own. It has enjoyed a well merited popularity for a number of years as a fun dance.
LA VARSOUVIENNE: Americanized version of traditional Varsouvienne which was originally from Warsaw. Has established but varying versions in different parts of the country. Patterns differ from, yet show close kinship to, Varsouvienne of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Popular among Western cowboys and South Western sections where it is known as the “Little Foot.” Made popular as a ballroom dance by Arthur Murray in 1940. It is also known as the Varsovien.
LAMBADA: This dance craze had its roots from the Northeast Coast of Brazil. The exciting look of this dance on European television took the Continent by storm in the late 80’s. Introduced to the U.S. by Arthur Murray personnel, its lighthearted Brazilian/Caribbean beat combines the flavor of the Samba with the sultry passion of the Rumba.
LAMBETH WALK: The Lambeth Walk is a walking dance done in a jaunty, strutting fashion. It was originally an old English step performed in the Limehouse district of London and danced to the song “Doing the Lambeth Walk.” This dance was introduced into the United States about 1937 by Arthur Murray.
LANCERS: The quadrille of the Lancers was a set dance or single dance invented by a dancing master in Paris about 1836. England took it up and it was fashionable for a number of years in polite society there.
LANDLER: History has us believe this dance to be a product of Vienna and more than one hundred years old. It had a lusty Waltz flavor but was not a closed ballroom dance but rather belonged to the Country dance group. It is said by some authorities that with the passage of time the Landler became the basis for our modern Waltz.
LATIN AMERICAN DANCES: These are essentially divided into two categories: 1) The authentic, traditional dances that fall lately into the domain of the folkloric, many of these dances vary from region-to-region, and generally involve a rhythmic character as opposed to a set of choreographic distinctions. 2) The standardized expression of popular Latin dances embraced by cultures other than Hispanic, such as the Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Bolero, Mambo and Paso Doble. These dances are danced both on a social and competitive level. The choreography of Latin America dances varies greatly according to region and time. However, it is possible to indicate the principal types of choreographic figures described in such terms as amorous dances, in which the partners hold each other closely, handkerchief dances, in which the partners dancing apart from each other wave handkerchiefs, and so on. Ten principal may thus be established: they are: 1. Amorous dances such as Rumba, Merengue, Tango, and Milonga. 2. Handkerchief dances, such as Bailecito, Marinera, Sanjuanito and Zamacueca. 3. Finger snapping dances: Gato, Chacarera, Jarana. 4. Street dances: Choros, Guajira, Guaracha. 5. Pursuit dances: Fimeza, Escondido, Bambuco, Jarabe. 6. Square dances: Perican, Punto, Mejorana. 7. Rustic dances: Ranchera, Pasillo, Joropo. 8. Ritual dances: Jongo, Macumba. 9. Carnival dances: Samba, Conga. 10. Topical ballads: Corrido, Zandunga, Calypso.
LINDY HOP: Named by Ray Bolger, after Colonel Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic. This Swing had as much “getting into the air” as possible. However, the violently acrobatic style used for exhibitions is not the same as the quietly rhythmic Lindy enjoyed by good dancers on the ballroom floor. The rhythmic patterns takes place over two measures of music. The more acrobatic versions were limited to ballrooms of which the most famous was the New York’s Savoy Harlem. NOTE: At one time the Jitterbug included the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shag and Lindy Hop. It has now been consolidated into Lindy Hop in Eastern U.S. and on the West Coast the West Coast Swing.
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MACUMBO: An African Brazilian ritual and like dances belonging to it.
MAMBO: The fusion of Swing and Cuban music produced this fascinating rhythm and in turn created a new sensational dance. The Mambo could not have been conceived earlier since up until that time Cuba and the American Jazz were still not wedded. The Victor records of Anselmo Sacaras entitled “Mambo” in 1944 were probably the beginning and since then other Latin American bandleaders such as Tito Rodriguez, Pupi Campo, Tito Puente, Perez Prado, Machito and Xavier Cugat have achieved styling of their own and furthered the Mambo craze. The Mambo was originally played as any Rumba with a riff ending. It may be described as a riff or a Rumba with emphasis on the fourth beat 4/4′ time. Originally played by some musicians in 2/4 time with a break or emphasis on 2 and 4. Native Cubans or dancers, without any training would break on any beat. MARCHA: Latin American counterpart of our One-Step.
MARTINIQUE BEGUINE: Popular ballroom dance of the island of St. Lucia and Martinique. It is characterized by the rocking back and forth of the hips while the girl throws her arms around her partner’s neck. His arms loosely clasp her about the waist. The steps have been incorporated in both the Haitian Merengue and Calypso.
MAXIXE: A Brazilian dance first introduced in Paris in 1912. It is in 2/4 time of rapid tempo with a slight syncopation. In this dance strict attention must be paid to the carriage of the head and the posturing of the arms.
MAZURKA: The Mazurka is a Polish dance. In Russia the Polonaise opened the ball, and the Mazurka ended it. In the Mazurkathe couples follow the leader in circular formation around the room. Sometimes the woman kneels down while her partner executes a chasse around her, and then this figure is reversed.
MENTO: The most popular native dance of Jamaica which resembles a Rumba played in slow tempo.
MILONGA: The Milonga is a Spanish dance first originated in Andalusia. As the fascinating music traveled the world it assumed various aspects. In Buenos Aires the Gauchos danced it in what is called a closed position, in the lower class cafes. Here their interpretation of it emerged into what today is our Tango. The Milonga enjoyed a popular resurgence some years ago through the Juan Carlos Copes group who performed it the world over.
MINUET: It was a carefree and lively dance until presented by the French court in 1650. There it developed into a slow and stately dance, elegant in its simplicity. It consists of a salute to the partner, a high step and a balance, and affords numerous opportunities for an exchange of courtly gestures, bows and curtsies.
MODERN DANCE: A form of dance as developed by Martha Graham, Haya Holm, Doris Humphyre, Charles Weidman and others. It expresses complex emotions and abstract ideas.
MODINHA: Among the Brazilian dances there is the Modinha which is the diminutive of Moda (Mode or Style) and is directly derived from the Portuguese songs and dances of that name. The early Modinhas were greatly influenced by Italian music. The present day Modinhas are sentimental in mood and similar to the Cuban Boleros.
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ONE-STEP: A dance that consisted entirely of chasses without any change in rhythm. It was danced to the popular music of the period encompassing World War I.
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QUADRILLE: The Quadrille is a “Set” dance. It consists of a series of dance figures, the most frequently used is called the “Flirtation” figure, in which the man dances with each woman in turn.
QUICKSTEP: The English version of the Fast Fox Trot, which has quick hopping steps set in with the smoother gliding figures. It is very popular in Europe as a competition dance. It ranks among the “Big Five,” the other three being the Slow Fox Trot, the Waltz, the Tango and the Viennese Waltz.
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ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: A popular form of the Swing or Lindy Hop. Began as a dance done mostly by teenagers who were fans of artists like Elvis Presley and the Beatles.
ROUND DANCES: Country dances in America became Barn dances, Square dances, and Round dances. These all have figures in common and require a caller.
RUMBA: The Rumba was originally a marriage dance. Many of its movements and actions which seem to have an erotic meaning are merely depictions of simple farm tasks. The shoeing of the mare, the climbing of a rope, the courtship of the rooster and the hen, etc. It was done for amusement on the farms by the black population of Cuba. However, it became a popular ballroom dance and was introduced in the United States about 1933. It was the Americanized version for the Cuban Son and Danzon. It is in 4/4 time. The characteristic feature is to take each step without initially placing the weight on that step. Steps are made with a slightly bent knee which, when straightened, causes the hips to sway from side to side in what has come to be known as “Cuban Motion.”
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SALSA: This is a favored name for a type of Latin music which, for the most part, has its roots in Cuban culture and is enhanced by jazz textures. The word, Salsa, means sauce denoting a “hot” flavor and is best distinguished from other Latin music styles by defining it as the New York sound developed by Puerto Rican musicians in New York. The dance structure is largely associated with mambo type patterns and has a particular feeling that is associated mainly with the Clave and the Montuno.
SAMBA: This Brazilian dance was first introduced in 1917 but was finally adopted by Brazilian society in 1930 as a ballroom dance. It is sometimes referred to as a Samba, Carioca, a Baion or a Batucado. The difference is mostly in the tempo played since the steps in all three dance are very similar. The style is to bounce steadily and smoothly in 2/4 meter. They say that the Samba was introduced in the United States in 1939 by the late Carmen Miranda.
SARABANDE: One of the most ancient court dances of the 16th century. It was a stately affair during which couples paraded forwarded for four steps and then back of four steps in an endless variety of patterns according to the number of couples taking part.
SCHOTTISCHE: A dance similar to the Polka. It is characterized by the clapping of hands after having taken three hopping steps. It is written in 4/4 time.
SEVILLANAS: A Spanish folk dance consisting of seven “Coplas.” Each Copla is a little dance in itself divided into three parts and consisting of twelve measures of music. Each part begins with an “Entrada” and ends with a “Pasada”. It is performed by couples and furnished an excellent foundation for all forms of Spanish dance.
SHAG: Not to be confused with the Carolina Shag which is a slow laid back type of Swing, became popular in the late 30’s along with the Jitterbug and Lindy Hop. The dance was done to uptempo Swing or Foxtrot music and was instantly recognizable by the flicking of the feet backwards with a pronounced hopping action.
SHIMMY: It started as an African American dance of the late 1880’s. It is a shaking of the shoulders and a whole body. First recreated by Gilda Gray.
SHIM SHAM: A lazy shuffling “soft shoe” step produced by the dancers at the Old Cotton Club in Harlem.
SON: A Cuban dance similar to the Bolero except that it is wilder in rhythmic accent and more violent in step pattern. It is the Son which first served as a basis for the Mambo which in turn became the triple Mambo, now known as Cha Cha. This slow rhythmic dance was originally in 2/4 time. It became Americanized and is usually played in 4/4 time.
SPANISH WALTZ: A smoothly danced waltz in open position using the arm movements of the classic Spanish dance.
SQUARE DANCE: Danced during Colonial days and now a part of our Barn Dances which include such names as Reels, Arkansas Traveler, Round Dance, etc.
SUZY-Q: It is a figure in which the hands are clasped in front of the body at knee level with the body poised forward from the waist and the dancer moving sideways with the arms swinging in opposition. It was popularized by Vaudeville Entertainers and used in many types of routines eventually achieving most of its fame when it was incorporated into tap routines at the Cotton Club in Harlem in the 30’s.
SWING: An ever popular blend of several African American dances, which include Lindy and Ragtime Jazz and Blues, as well as all the other dance music to accompanying dances of the past ninety years. Today it generally refers to the ballroom and night club version which is based on two slow and two quick counts or the slow and two quick counts of rhythm dances.
SWORD DANCE: One of the three chief English dances of Medieval times. It was a ritualistic and ceremonial drama danced by men with swords and elaborate costumes while parading through the streets. It depicted the death of the old year, of Winter, and of scarcity. It heralded in the New Year, with hope of Spring and plenty. To symbolize the death of Winter, someone must always “die” and be brought to life again as a portrayal of death and resurrection.
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TANGO: Continental/English – See INTERNATIONAL TANGO There are essentially three types of Tango – Argentine, American and International Style. Argentine Tango: (arrabalero) A dance created by the Gauchos in Buenos Aires. It was actually an attempt on their part to imitate the Spanish dance except that they danced it in a closed ballroom position. The Tango caused a sensation and was soon to be seen the world over in a more subdued version. American Tango: Unlike the Argentine Tango, in which the dancer interprets the music spontaneously without any predetermined slows or quicks, the American Tango features a structure which is correlated to the musical phrasing. The dance is executed both in closed position and in various types of extravagant dance relationships which incorporate a particular freedom of expression that is not present in the International style. International Tango: This is a highly disciplined and distinctively structured form of the Tango which is accepted worldwide as the format for dancesport events. The dancers remain in traditional closed position throughout and expresses both legato and staccato aspects of the type of music appropriate to this style.
EVOLUTION OF THE TANGO: The history of the Tango can be traced surprisingly enough to a country dance of 17th Century England. The English country dance became the CONTREDANSE in France, and this in turn was called the CONTRADANZA in Spain or later simply DANZA. When imported by the Spaniards into Cuba, it became the DANZAHABANERA. During the Spanish American War, a popular dance called the Habanera del Cafe appeared which was the prototype of the Tango. The whole genealogy is presented in the following chronological table: Country Dance England1650 Contredanse France1700 Contradanza Spain1750 Danza Spain 1800 Danza Habanera Cuba1825 Habaner 1850 Habanera del Cafe 1900 Tango 1910
TARANTELLA: Italian folks dance. Sometimes a single dancer gets up and spins alone until a partner joins in. Sometimes several couples stand up together, like a country dance set, although pairs dance individually. Girls use tambourines.
TRUCKIN: An African American form of shuffling along while shaking the index finger of the fight hand above the head. Popular in 1937.
TURKEY TROT: The Turkey Trot was a dance done to fast ragtime music popular in the decade from 1900 to 1910 such as Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, etc. The basic step consisted of four hopping steps sideways first on one leg, then the other. It achieved popularity chiefly as a result of its being denounced by the Vatican. The dance was embellished with scissor-like flicks of the feet and fast trotting actions with abrupt stops.
TWIST: This dance was written by an African American musician in Georgia in 1958. He and his band members made up some twisting movements for the musicians to do while playing the music. Then in 1960, Chubby Checker made his first twist record, and made the Twist famous in Philadelphia. Twist came to New York via Philadelphia and New Jersey and then spread throughout most countries.
TWO-STEP: The Two-Step is a simple dance, more or less double quick march with a skip in each step done as rapidly as a couple can go
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VIENNESE WALTZ: With such wonderful composers as Johann Strauss and others, the Waltz became more and more refined. The steps became smaller with the turns smoother and more compact. Adding the graceful lilt of the flowing skirts we have today’s Viennese Waltz.
VIRGINIA REEL: One of the more popular of the Colonial Barn Dances.
VOLTE: The Volte was like the Landler, a forerunner of the Waltz. It was brought to the French court by Catherine de Medici. In it the man turns his partner around several times and then helps her to take a high spring into the air.
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WALTZ: The real origin of the Waltz is rather obscure, but a dance of turns and glides, leaping and stomping appeared in various parts of Europe at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. In Italy it was the Volta, France has its Volte, Germany the Weller and Austria had its Landler. These were round dances but at the end of the dance itself there was a short period in which the circle would break up into couples who would whirl madly round and round and finish with a jump in the air. In the Landler the hopping gave way more to a gliding motion and that is why it is considered the forerunner of the Waltz. The Waltz can be traced back as far as 400+ years. The Waltz regained its real popularity in the 20th century. The Waltz blossomed out as the Hesitation Waltz in 1913. Until the development of the hesitation, couples had waltzed in one direction until dizzy and then reversed until ready to drop. The Waltz had degenerated into an endurance contest. The Hesitation resulted in the Waltz it is done today. The slow Waltz was once known as the Boston Waltz. Today the slow Waltz is the American Waltz, English Waltz or just Waltz, and the faster is the Viennese Waltz.
WEST COAST SWING: A stylized Swing dance popular west of the Mississippi from Kansas to California. Danced in a slot to medium to slow Swing or Disco music and characterized by slot movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and push and pull action of the dancers.
XONGO: (CHAN GO) A dance of the Macumba ritual in Brazil. It is in honor of the jungle god Xango.
XTOLES: (CHI TOL LES) The Mayan Warriors dance of Mexico.
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YAQUI INDIAN DANCES: Dances of the Indians of Sonora, Mexico, among which El Venado is the most popular. It depicts the fascination of a young deer for a campfire. He finally loses his life by jumping into it.
YURUPARI: Ritual dance of the Indians of the Amazon basin said to protect the young male dancers against feminine seduction. The rites of Yurupari are held by the Indians in the jungles of Brazil. The African Brazilians practice their fetishistic ritual of the macumba from which stem many Brazilian dance patterns. The Spanish and Portuguese contribute the rituals of their Christian religion and all three now have enriched the dances we learn and enjoy in the ballroom.
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ZAMBRA: The Zambra has a definitely Moorish origin. Prizes were given to the youth who could dance the Best Zambra with his Moorish maiden during the Caliphate of Cordoba. Today it is the dance of the Gitano women of Spain.
ZANDUNGA: The songs and dances in Waltz time of Southern Mexico. The lyrics tell a story and more often funny situations between persons are rhymed and danced.
ZAPATEADO: The Spanish and Flamenco dances of Spain in which rhythmic patterns are made with the heel and ball of Filigrano. Also a man’s dance which consists purely of intricate stomping.