We don’t know if you can tell samba from salsa and rumba from bachata, but we bet – you don’t know the FULL list of Latin dances. We get it. Below is a list of all Latin American dances with detailed explanations and videos of the respective dance.
Latin dances are a collection of dances that have formed in Latin America. They include both folk (so-called social) and sports ballroom dances (International Latin).
List of Latin Ballroom Dances
The Latin program consists of 5 main dances such as:
- Paso Doble;
(this list specified in the order of performance of dances at the contest, only in the category of professionals the first dance – chacha, the second – samba).
Ballroom Latin dances are strictly standardized, as part of the competition, there are clear rules and requirements for dresses and costumes of dancers, for their hairstyles. For each age category, there are strictly defined permitted dance figures and movements.
And it is only by moving into higher categories that the dancer has more and more opportunities to express himself: dresses become more unusual and brighter, the heel of the ballroom shoes is higher, and movements more diverse, sensual and technically complex. This is the magic of ballroom dancing: when you come to the dance class as a child, you look at the senior dancers and look forward to being able to dance and perform just like them.
Well, let’s discuss each dance separately.
Samba is a dance characterized by hip movements and springy movements by the knees, the so-called “Samba Bounce”. The movement of the partners takes place along the line of the dance.
- Time signature: 2/4 or 4/4, accentuated in the first and third (first more) kick.
- Tempo: 50-52 beats per minute.
- Basic moves: botafogo, corta jaca, volta, whisk.
Cha-Cha-Cha got its name and character because of the special repetitive main rhythm and specific instrument of maracas. In the cha-cha-cha, the dancers step on each beat, be sure to straighten their knees after each step, and actively work with their hips. The main characteristic movement for the cha-cha is the lock-step – the attachment of the non-supporting leg to the supporting one so that they join at the knee (when moving back and forth).
- Time signature: 4/4.
- Tempo: 30 beats per minute.
- Basic moves: Basic, New Yorkers, Under Arm Turns, Away & Back, Chasses, Spot Turns.
This is a very sensual and romantic dance, unlike his Cuban rumba. This dance is quite slow, but every score and every moment of the music is filled with sensual and elaborated movements of partners. The peculiarity of performing rumba figures – transferring body weight to the “one” account without taking a step – makes the dance more interesting due to accented stops and accelerations; the dance seems to have its own breath.
- Time signature: 4/4.
- Tempo: 25-27 beats per minute.
- Basic moves: Basic, Cucaracha, Side Step, Under Arm Turn, New Yorker, Hand to Hand, Aida.
The Spanish Pasodoble dance imitates bullfighting, where the male partner is the toreador, and the girl is the muleta. The main characteristic of paso doble is the position of the body. It is distinguished by its highly elevated breasts, hips forward. Bodyweight is on the front of the foot; most steps are done with the heel.
- Time signature: 2/4 or 6/8.
- Tempo: 56 beats per minute.
- Basic moves: Appel, Attack, Spanish Line, Flamenco Taps, Huit, Sixteen, Shasse to Right.
Fast and incendiary jive is the last dance of the competitive Latin program, so the dancers must show that they are not tired and are ready to perform it with greater return. Jive has basic steps made up of a fast syncopated steps left and right, together with a slower step back and return to the front. Jive is also characterized by the clear and quick kick movements.
- Time signature: 4/4.
- Tempo: 40-44 beats per minute.
- Basic moves: Basic, Fallaway Rock, Fallaway Throwaway, Hip Bump, American Spin, Walks.
List of Social Latin Dances
The types of Latin dances described below are folk dances, that is, they were created on the streets of Cuba directly by the local population. These dances are not as standardized as a ballroom, but no less energetic and sensual.
Salsa has managed to harmoniously combine typical African folk dances with Cuban folklore. It dances in pairs as well as in groups. It has two main types – circular and linear. The main movements consist of a fast, fast, and slow step with 4 musical scores.
Read about the history of the salsa dance in our article – “Salsa Dance Origins“.
Bachata is a pair dance, which is distinguished by its intimacy, romanticism, sensuality. Its basis is very close finding partners in relation to each other. This is the main feature of the style – sensual romanticism. The movements are very smooth, wavy, the bodies of dancers often touch. The main movement of bachata is 4 steps from side to side, the last of which is highlighted by the accent (putting your foot forward or putting your foot on the sock).
Merengue is characterized by dance movements in close contact paired with the soft swaying of the hips. It has a faster tempo than bachata, although the two dances are very similar in many ways. In the merengue, improvisation of partners and flirting is important.
Reggaeton can be very different (duro, romantico, perreo), everything depends on the music, the dancer, and his preferences. The main characteristic is muscle isolation, i.e. moving one part of the body relative to a fixed body or another part of the body. This gives the dance contrast and distinguishes it from other Latin dances.
Greater temperament, freedom of expression of emotions, and luxurious musical accompaniment distinguish this dance. At the end of each tact, there is a slowdown, on the count of “four”, in the amount of 4/4. The dance is characterized by a clear rhythm and fast tempo.
The dance is performed slowly and very smoothly. It is danced exclusively in pairs. Slow and smooth movements, very close contact with a partner, mesmerizing Portuguese music create the atmosphere of dance kizomba.
Zouk consists of three counts. Dance moves are saturated with beautiful bends of the upper part of the body and deflections. The steps and turns are complemented by circular rotations, wave-like movements, and turns of the head. There are several types of Zouk, such as the Caribbean and Brazilian Zouk.
This well-known dance appeared under the influence of the popular song of the same name by the group Los del Río, in the clip of which the dance movements were shown.
Well, did you find out some new styles of Latin dances for yourself?
If so, write to us about it in the comments below.
And also be sure to share your impressions if you’ve tried at least one of them. We are very interested!
Read about the history of the ballroom dances in our article – “Ballroom Dance History“.