Frequently Asked Questions
How is the payments arranged?
Tuition arrangements are determined on a case by case basis. It is generally paid in advance but your instructor will gladly discuss different payment options with you.
What is a Private Dance Lesson?
Private dance lessons are the most efficient one-on-one learning experience. Private lessons provide you with the advantage of an environment that is responsive to your specific needs through personal connection with your instructor. Your instructor will be able to work with you in detail on your frame, your balance, your ability to lead and follow the figures, and will help you become a skillful and receptive dance partner. A private lesson is the best time to master your technique and overcome any hindrances you may encounter. Lessons are 45 minutes long.
What is a Group Class?
Group classes are designed to make everyone familiar with the dance patterns. During these classes you will be able to practice the patterns and steps with your instructor and run through them with multiple partners. You will soon appreciate that group lessons are both fun and also a great opportunity to learn from each other. Both group classes and private lessons are important and complement each other. Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Party Practice Session?
Our party practice sessions will soon become the most enjoyable experience for you. During these sessions you will dance with other students to the music while socializing and enjoying each others’ spotlight performances. Some practice sessions will include pot-luck celebrations and be arranged according to the calendar events and holidays.
Do I need a dance partner to learn Social Ballroom and Latin dancing?
This is one of the most asked frequently asked questions.
The majority of the students come to class without a partner. The classes are arranged in a way that you either dance with your instructor or with other students in the same class. We keep changing partners so everyone has a chance to dance and meet other students on the dance floor. In case you come with a partner and only want to dance with each other your wish will be granted. Frequently Asked Questions
What is the dress code for the lessons?
Rule number one is wear outfits you feel comfortable with. Don’t forget that dancing is like a work-out in many ways, so be prepared to move around a lot. Shoes are the most important component. A leather bottom would be the best option for both your ability to perform dancing steps as well as your safety. Rubber soles grab the floor which makes your dancing less enjoyable and might lead to an injury. If you are not ready to invest into specialized dancing footwear, plastic soles would be an acceptable compromise.
What dances should I choose?
During your initial interview with your instructor you will decide together which dances best suit your goals and taste. The program will be tailored according to your needs and abilities. Your Ballroom Dance Program will include: Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Rumba, Swing, Cha Cha, Samba, Salsa,Merengue, Bachata and Hustle.
(At the end of this page you will find detailed introduction of each style and dance)
What is the age range of your students?
We have a requirement of over 16 without an upper age limit. The atmosphere at our studio can be described as mature, yet informal and relaxed. Every new student will be gladly accepted by our constantly growing dancing class.
Can I compete?
The answer is “Yes!” and you don’t have to be a professional to participate. There are three primary types of competitions which provide dancers of every level with the opportunity to compete according to their abilities. These types are: Professional, Amateur, and Professional-Amateur (Pro-Am). So if you and you partner are amateurs and want to compete, you will be pitted accordingly to your level.
Those students who don’t have a partner can dance with their teachers and compete against other teacher-student pairs in the Pro-Am’s. You can also pick the dance style and the dance grouping to compete in.
What if I miss class?
It’s understandable that our students have busy lifestyles and sometimes even an emergency might occur. You instructor will provide you with different opportunities to make up a class so that your busy schedule does not prevent you from succeeding in your dance program. Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about music and rhythm.
Easy steps to counting the rhythm.
It is natural for beginning dancers to be somewhat puzzled by a rhythmical pattern of a new tune. Don’t worry, there are some quite easy steps which would lead you through these intricacies and you don’t even have to know the exact name of the dance! Frequently Asked Questions
As you already know you can dance more than one style to some tunes. First of all focus on hitting upon the rhythm. Just pretend you are enjoying a concert, clapping to the pace of the melody along with a crowd of other admirers. Once you feel comfortable with the rhythm try to locate the stronger bit-this would be essential in order to synchronize your steps with the rhythmical pattern and, of course, your partner. For example, the strong-weak-weak bar count of a waltz will be pronounced as one-two–three, where “one” is a strong beat. You should also be aware that in certain dances ( waltz, cha-cha, salsa, merengue, mambo and hustle) each count matches up with one step, whereas in other dances (foxtrot, tango, rumba) the one-two-three etc. count will be replaced with the pattern consisting of slows and quicks for each single step. The difference is that for these dances not just one, but two beats fall on each “slow”, and one beat falls on each “quick”. Frequently Asked Questions
How to decide which dance goes with a particular tune?
First of all you shouldn’t be afraid of choosing one dance among several possibilities. In reality more than one dance can be performed to some pieces of music. You may try to figure out which culture this tune belongs to Latin (South American), European or North American. Even the name of the performer can become a hint. For instance Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble’s repertoires mostly matches Foxtrot and Quick Step. Elvis Presley and James Brown would usually go with Jive, East and West Coast Swing. Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to European music you should pay attention to the mood and rhythm. Romantic music that gives you a feeling of a pendulum swing motion would be a perfect Slow Waltz tune and if the rhythm is somewhat faster you may want to attempt a Viennese Waltz. It is usually really easy to recognize Latin music that might be of South American and Caribbean origin. Once you know that you will be dancing to this kind of music you should focus on the mood, rhythm and tempo. A slow, sensual tune would unmistakably mean Rumba, while Cha-Cha is an exciting, faster dance with a syncopated rhythm. As for Samba, in no time you will effortlessly distinguish this bouncy lively dance among other Latin tunes.
When it comes to such club dances as Salsa, Merengue and Bachata very often you will be able to dance them interchangeably to many Latin tunes and songs.
Though all this might sound confusing at the beginning of your introduction to Ballroom and Latin dancing, eventually practice will make it perfect. As you take group and individual classes and participate in the practice sessions, you instructor will help you develop your sense of rhythm and tempo and apply these new skills towards telling apart different styles and dances.
Other of frequently asked questions are:
Where I can get dance shoes and attire?
Please click on the icons to visit these pages. Choose your dancewear, shoes, dresses and anything that will give you more fun and entertainment.
Dance Style specializes in everything you need to be the best in style.
Latin dance wear, Ballroom and Latin dance shoes, Latin dresses, Costumes, Skirts, Ballroom Gowns.
Natural Spin provides huge selections of Ballroom, Latin, Salsa and Tango dance wear.
C.W. Fine Dance Shoes over 400 styles to choose from.
Where I can go and dance socially?
I know Pat and Cathy Gullo for more than 10 years.
Ballroom TO is the best place to dance in Toronto! All types of Ballroom dancing presented during Friday night dancing.
Music is always new and high quality.
Cover of $20.00 per person includes lots of dancing, dinner and cash bar.
Links to the Argentine Tango dance places:
La Cachila – Toronto Tango Club
My favorite Argentinian Tango place in Toronto.
Enjoy classical tangos, milongas, valses and chacareras.
I would definitely recommend visiting one of the most popular dance competitions in Canada:
American Style of ballroom dancing
o Smooth — Waltz (W), Tango (T), Foxtrot (F), Viennese Waltz (VW)
o Rhythm — Cha Cha (C), Rumba (R), East Coast Swing (Sw), Bolero (B), Mambo (Ma)
o American style also includes Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Hustle, West Coast Swing and more
International Style of Ballroom dancing
o Standard — Waltz (W), Tango (T), Viennese Waltz (VW), Foxtrot (F), Quickstep (Q)
o Latin — Cha Cha (C), Samba (S), Rumba (R), Paso Doble (PD), Jive (J)
What are American (Social) and International styles of Ballroom Dancing?
There are two main styles of Ballroom Dancing -American (Social) and International. American style was brought up in North America by fusion of ballet and folk dancing. And it has huge influence of new “thinking” and is not as standardized as International style. Actually Social style is only Bronze level of American Style of Ballroom Dancing. All styles are organized in to Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. Social style of Ballroom Dancing was created to serve big mass of people and was created to be “user friendly. In North America Social style tends to be used more often for social dancing while International style tends to be used primarily in competitions. This doesn’t mean that you can’t compete in American style or dance International style socially. Dance competitions normally include both styles.
As for the dances themselves, they are grouped into two categories for each style. In American style of Ballroom Dancing, the categories are called Smooth and Rhythm and in International style they are called Standard (sometimes Ballroom)and Latin. For the most part, the Standard and Smooth categories contain the same dances and the Latin and Rhythm categories contain basically the same dances. Below you can see the breakdown of the dances by style and category followed by the usual abbreviations used for each. The dances are placed in the order that they are danced in competitions.
What is the difference between American and International Ballroom dancing?
Between this two Ballroom Dancing styles are lots of similarities, but there are lots of differences. For example: In International (Standard) all dances are danced in closed position (that means hips of dance partners are attached to each other) verses in American (Smooth) is varieties of holds more than just “closed position” are used and more freedom of movement is allowed. In the similarities we could mention that dance principles, technique and footwork are the same as well as dance patterns are the same.
Rhythm and Latin have more difference: for example American and International Rumba is rhythmically counted very different and use of the knees as well is different.
Cha cha cha is similar in count but different in hip motion and the speed of dance has big difference.
And Swing and Jive also have some similarities – very similar patterns, timing but Jive is faster and more cardio dance versus swing that is slower and much more easier to dance (spatially at social dance occasions)
The biggest difference in the two styles is in the “Smooth” Dances. The most apparent difference is that international standard includes quickstep, which is not part of American smooth. The other major difference is that international style permits figures in closed position only, while American style allows open positions and even solo actions.
American Style “Smooth” has a greater diversity of patterns and is easier to learn at the beginner and intermediate levels. At the advanced and competition level, American Style is as hard to master as the International Style. In “American Style” the box step is the basic component for all the dances and is used in some form as a conversion into more complex steps and patterns.
In the “Latin” or “Rhythm” Dances the difference is in the manner the Cuban or Latin movement is performed. American Style of Ballroom Dancing uses a natural foot and soft knee movement to achieve the hip drop associated with Cuban motion. In the international style, the hips are forced up and out by stepping on to a straight knee.
If you, like most people who start taking dance lessons, only want to be contented on the dancefloor, be a fair social dancer and are not interested in any major competition, than the easier and more relaxed American Style might be a better choice for you.
American Style of Ballroom Dancing
Smooth dances of American Style of Ballroom Dancing
The American Style Waltz is one of the world’s most popular and romantic Smooth dances.
Its name comes from the Latin word “volvere”, which means to rotate. Its graceful turns and glides are unmistakable as dancers sweep across the floor. It is danced in ¾ time, with a pronounced accent on the first beat of each measure.
Slow speed, smooth movement and simplicity makes this dance to be for many couples a favorite choice for their Wedding First Dance.
This dance is a dramatic, sensual, and supremely expressive dance. Tango is one of the most colorful among of all Smooth dances. Dancer’s weight is transferred from foot to foot with a fast, staccato action as they move across the floor, and the music is strong and rhythmic. There are 3 major styles of Tango: Argentine, American and International. The structure of the American Tango closely correlates to the musical phrasing and incorporates a freedom of expression not present in the International style. One if the favorite dances for the Wedding dance.
The Foxtrot has been a standard of American social dances since 1913. It was first introduced by Harry Fox. It became popular in the 1930′s and remains popular until today.
Its basic components are walking steps and side steps. Which vary in length to conform to a wide range of tempos. The Foxtrot is highly versatile and provides an excellent foundation for many of the other ballroom dances. Lots of patterns dancers used in the Foxtrot are used also in the Waltz choreography.
Being flirtatious and playful among Smooth dances Foxtrot became a favorite dance for the Wedding dance choreography.
This dance is often used by many newly married couples as a Wedding First Dance. Its simplicity and showmanship gives a great base for the gliding movement around the dance floor.
The Viennese waltz is the oldest and most elegant of the Smooth dances. Like the Slow Waltz, is unique due to its 3/4 timing. It was first developed in Vienna as a fast paced dance to the music of Johann Strauss. The Viennese Waltz is characterized with quick motion as couples spin around the dance floor.
Rhythm Dances of American Style of Ballroom Dancing
Cha Cha Cha
American Style Rhythm dancing Cha Cha Cha originated in the 1950′s in New York City by area dance instructors who danced the triple Mambo. It is an exhilarating, syncopated Latin dance of American Style Rhythm dances. The dance gets its name from its distinctive recurring foot rhythm or cha-cha-cha. Cheerful and energetic it is much loved among other Rhythm dances.
The American Style Rumba started off from Afro-Cuban folk rhythms and became trendy in the 1930′s. The basic step is somewhat similar to the basic pattern of the waltz, but American Style Rumba danced leisurely and sensuously in a Latin rhythm. Danced in 4/4 time. The basic count is slow, quick, quick.
Rumba might be one of the sexiest of the Latin dances. And is the top choice for the Wedding dance among other Rhythm dances.
East Coast Swing
is a wonderful part of the Rhythm dances that is perfect for the social dancing beginners. Lively, upbeat dance with roots similar to the Jitterbug and the Lindy Hop. East Coast Swing is very easy to lead and follow, and has fun step and a turns variety.
Bolero, similarly to the Rumba, presents a slow rhythm and sensuous atmosphere to the Rhythm dances. But Bolero is much slower, more polished and more dramatic than Rumba.
Bolero timing: slow, quick-quick. Bolero is more demanding dance. Amount of body control and balance required to dance at this measured tempo is bigger than in other dances. Bolero is the American “show dance” and is greatly admired by the advanced dancers.
Mambo evolved from Cuba. The Mambo is the forerunner of cha-cha. Although somewhat more difficult than cha-cha. International Rumba and other Latin dances take their origins form the Mambo. Same steps are used in many Rhythm dances (Latin dances). Once learned, lots dance aficionados take Mambo as a favorite dance.
is perhaps the most popular dance on the planet today. This could be the reason why each city has its own unique style. It isn’t a matter of which style is best since each style has its own special character.
Most famous styles can be traced back to Caribbean, South and North American roots. The most famous styles of Salsa are Cali (Colombian), Casino (Cuban), Miami , Los Angeles and New York Salsa styles.
Salsa is a copycat dance. It mimics the movements and styles of many other dances. The origin of this dance goes back to the 1920′s and over the years has been influenced by a lot of Hispanic dances such as Rumba, Mambo, Cha cha cha, Cumbia, Merengue, and many others.
Thanks to the simple, basic rhythmic pattern which is a clear combination of “three” and “three” steps (one, two, three-hold, five, six, seven-hold) it gives even beginning salsa dancers an easy way into the Latin dance world. As they progress, rhythm, foot and arm technique and body motion becomes more sophisticated and complicated. Among dancers the count of music may also vary. Some people choose to count: one, two, three, five six, seven; one, two, three, four, five, six; one, two, three-four, five, six, seven-eight; quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow; and many other variations. Please keep in mind that all previous counts described are actually the same rhythmical pattern.
The clave (consisting of two wooden sticks) is the main salsa instrument and rhythm keeper. The band musicians can choose to follow the standard rhythmic pattern of the clave or deviate to their own rhythmic style.
Salsa music is quite rich in rhythmical patterns and speed. It can take on a very romantic slow form or speed up to head-spinning fast movements! Regardless of speed or style, common moves include both male and female spins, drops, rolls and flirtatious gestures;)
This dance spawned from the Dominican Republic. Merging African and Latin dance styles.
Merengue is danced at a moderate tempo with very basic steps and Cuban hip motion. The arm movements of the swing and salsa are performed in this dance too.
Even Merengue is not a part of the professional Rhythm dances competition it has own competitive crowd of amateurs.
West Coast Swing
Originating on the West Coast of California in the 1940′s, West Coast Swing was originally called “Western Swing”. Nobody knows quite how the dance evolved, only that it had roots in a dance called the “Lindy Hop”. The Lindy Hop began in Harlem, New York between the 1920′s and 30′s, and was danced to jazz music.
One of the theories is that when the bands started to play slower (blues) music and moved to smaller clubs, dancers adapted the Lindy Hop steps to the new conditions. Another popular rumor goes back to Hollywood before the invention of wide angle camera lenses. Dancers would move in slots to make it easier for film makers to capture the shots on camera.
The West Coast Swing belongs to the American style Rhythm dances. It is a smooth dance which can be danced to quite a large variety of music including, Disco, Rock, Rhythm and Blues, Country Western, Pop, and even soul and folk rock. Originally though it can be traced back to the era of swing which incorporated mostly a lot of jazz music.
West Coast Swing is danced in a slot. It has no bounce motion. This means that while the leader moves minimally, and dances almost on one spot, the follower dances within an imaginary rectangular slot and brushes past the leader as she passes by him.
While the dance is still evolving, it returns again and again to nightclubs and Latin dance clubs, and even has its own separate dance competitions and is very popular in Canada and the United States.
Dancers will dance to almost any music in 4/4 rhythm. This may range from very fast to very slow music. Dancers style will also invariably change according to the music speed, rhythm and style. This dance take a “Classy”place among Rhythm dances.
International Style of Ballroom Dancing
International Style Standard:
Sometimes referred as “Ballroom”
The Slow Waltz is a slow and elegant dance. You and your partner will move as if you are one in this dance.
During 1910-1914 many people went to the Boston club in the Savoy Hotel, central London to dance the Bostonwals. That was forerunner of our competition International Standard Slow Waltz. Later the basic steps were changed to the direction of the Waltz.
After the World War 1 the Slow Waltz started to develop more into the direction of today’s Waltz. Figures like, the Natural and Reverse turns and the Closed Change were developed. The development process of the International Standard Slow Waltz was tough and slow. Special contribution to the development was given by: Miss Josephine Bradly, Victor Silvester and Maxwell Steward and Pat Sykes first English Champions. The biggest contributor to the standardize Slow Waltz was the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). Many of these variations are still danced by today’s competitors.
The Slow Waltz is a smooth romantic dance in ¾ time. The rhythm has a strong first beat followed by two lighter beats.
The Milonga is the forerunner of the Tango. The Milonga had already the characteristic head and shoulder movements that suddenly switched over to stillness. In the beginning of the 20th Century the Milonga was danced in small theatres for the High Society from Brazil. During that period the name was changed from Milonga to Tango, but the Milonga name carried too many memories from the ghetto’s of Buenos Aires.
The Tango was introduced in Europe, actually in Paris in the Argentine community. Until 1907 the Tango was not accepted in London. The dance was considered overly erotic and had many opponents. After some stylistic changes the dance was accepted in Paris and London.
In 1920/1921 the Tango was standardized at the Conference in London. During the “thirties” the staccato actions merged into the International Style Tango choreography. This beautiful dance is a passionate, staccato with distinct movements. It is characterized by more regimented movements than the Argentine Tango and can be danced to some of the most famed pieces of music.
The International Standard Viennese Waltz originally comes from the South German Alps Area. During the 18th century the dances: Weller, Walzer and Ländler were found, this last dance the Ländler is originally the forerunner of our Viennese Waltz.
Between 1800 and 1820 the steps and figures from the Ländler were reduced due to the speed of music and the 6 step Viennese Waltz was born.This dance whirls around the floor at a fast pace and is very similar to the Waltz. Poise and coordination are very important as you glide over the floor.
The Foxtrot was introduced in Europe just before World War.
From its origin the Foxtrot was a passionate dance with sequences of slow and quick movements. They say the name comes from a musical dancer Harry Fox. The European dance teachers were not enthusiastic about the “wild” character of the Foxtrot. And started to polish it more. Between 1922 and 1929 Frank Ford, with whom Josephine Bradley used to give demonstrations, developed the basic movements of the Slow Foxtrot.
With his interpretation he won the 1927 “Star Championships” with partner Molly Spain. Many of the figures they danced are still used by today’s competitors. The most difficult of the ballroom dances, Foxtrot is beautiful and graceful and requires control and style. Some famous Big-Band music makes it a very popular dance to learn.
Foxtrot is considered the most difficult dance among all International Standard dances.
The Quickstep is derived from the Foxtrot.
During the twenties many bands played the Slow Foxtrot too fast. The 50 Bars/min, the large open steps from the Foxtrot could not be danced on this speed. The English developed a progressive dance from the original Charleston without kicks and made a mixture with the above mentioned fast Foxtrot. They called this dance “the Quicktime Foxtrot and Charleston”. The English couple Frank Ford and Molly Spain danced on the ‘Star’ Championships of 1927 a version of this Quicktime Foxtrot and Charleston without the characteristic Charleston knee actions and made it a dance for two instead of solo.
Quickstep is a fast moving bouncy dance full of life and fire comprising walks and chasses. With steps including the “Running Right Turn”, “V6?, and “Fishtail” you’ll be zooming around the floor in no time.
Cha Cha Cha
During 1952, dance instructor Pierre Lavelle visited Cuba and was able to witness an unusual way of dancing Rumba. People danced it with a triple step in place of a slow one. This was the surfacing of the cha-cha-cha. This type of Latin dance uses contemporary Latin music to provide the beat. There are two main types of cha-cha cha: Latin, which involves slower, more sensuous movements, and “Cowboy”, which can basically be danced to any energetic music.
This type of Latin dance is favored by many in the world today because it is easier to learn compared to others. The steps are basic and transitions are easier to make. It is also quite exciting because of the energetic pace of the music. This type of Latin dance can be described as lighthearted, energetic, wholesome and amusing.
International Style Cha Cha Cha is developed from the Mambo and is a Latin dance that most people like to learn first. The name Cha Cha Cha is a sound imitation of the “shoes” from dancing Cuban women. Cha Cha Cha was first seen in America and came to Europe almost at the same time with Mambo – the forerunner of International Style Cha Cha Cha. After the World War II Mambo was pushed aside by International Style Cha Cha Cha which became really popular at 1956. According to its roots the Cha Cha Cha music should be played fervently without any seriousness and with staccato allowing the dancers to project an atmosphere of ‘naughtiness” to the audience. Recently it was decided to shorten the name to Cha Cha.
International Latin Style Samba is originated from Brazil. It is very lively and can be danced either alone or with a partner. Although many people think that this is just one type of Latin dance, it actually is not. Samba is actually a collection of dances inside Brazil. The different accents of the music in various parts of Brazil tend to influence the steps of this type of Latin dance. As such, you will find that different people make different movements when they dance.
You will easily recognize this dance from the Carnival Parties and Samba Schools in Brazil. In 1925 the Samba was imported into Europe. Although Samba was already accepted as a competition Dance, the great breakthrough of Samba happened on the World exhibition in New York in 1939. Europe was really captured by the Samba in 1948/1949. Walter Laird with partner Lorraine improved this dance very much.
International Style Rumba has more serious sensual overtones than the cha-cha. It is slow, quite dynamic and romantic. A lot of the Rumba dance patterns have a theme of flirting and rejection or teasing. The basic premise of International Style Rumba is to spotlight the lady’s body and sexuality. Merge this with the slow Latin beat and the rhythmic body movements and you have a sizzling combination.
They estimate that Rumba was brought to America by the African slaves. But around 1928/1929 the actual steps and figures of this dance were not clear.
Many people treated and danced it, like a new type of foxtrot with additional hip actions. After the World War II Rumba was further developed into the “Cuban Rumba”. By monsieur Pierre and Doris Lavell which had a school in the Regent street, London. But still the standardization was a problem until Walter Laird started to write his Latin books. His work was accepted by many official dance Associations and the standardization became a fact.
Meaning Paso Doble is “two step”. This type of International Latin dancing actually originated from Southern France. The Spanish flavor of this dance comes from its origins in the Spanish bullfight. The lively music of this type of Latin dance actually comes from the same music played at bullfights during the entrance of the bullfighters. The movements are generally based on the movements of the matador, the bull or the cape. The Paso Doble is the only Latin Dance which is not coming from the African American culture, the roots are in Spain. The peak in popularity of this dance was in 1926. After World War II the Paso Doble was accepted as a Competition Dance.
Jive is another type of International Latin which does not have Latin American roots . It is actually a very lively variation of the Jitterbug. It was mainly propagated during the early 1940′s by young people. This type of Latin Dance is actually rooted in different dances of African-American origin such as the Lindy Hop and the Boogie.
It is a fast, rhythmical and swinging dance, which was influenced by the Rock & Roll, Boogie and the African/American Swing. The roots of the Jive are in New York, Harlem. In 1940 Jive was developed into the jitterbug and the English Jos Bradly and Alex Moore developed from that the International Competition Jive.