Dance Descriptions

Social Ballroom Dances Taught:

The most requested and taught social dances at Puttin’ on the Ritz are: Swing, Fox Trot, Slow Fox Trot, Cha Cha, Waltz, Rhumba and 4-count Hustle.  These seven dances are the primary focus of the beginner classes.

The intermediate and advanced classes build upon and add to these primary dances, and add the following other social dances: Lindy Hop, Tango, Samba, 3-count Hustle, Mambo, Merengue, West Coast Swing, Salsa, Polka, and Night Club Two-Step.

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. Learn more here…

FOX TROT:

The Fox Trot (or Foxtrot) is a smooth progressive dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor. It is danced to big band (usually vocal) music, and the feeling is one of elegance and sophistication. At its inception, the foxtrot was originally danced to ragtime and some sources credit African American clubs with its development.

The Foxtrot was formally introduced by Harry Fox in 1914.  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. Learn more here…

HUSTLE:

Hustle represents several styles of disco dances which had their beginning in the 1970’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. Learn more here…

LINDY HOP:

The Lindy Hop is an American dance that evolved in Harlem, New York City in the 1920s and 1930s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family. Learn more here…

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 Rhumba with a riff ending. It may be described as a riff or a Rhumba 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. Learn more here…

MERENGUE:

Merengue is a style of Dominican music and dance. Partners hold each other in a closed position. The leader holds the follower’s waist with the leader’s right hand, while holding the follower’s right hand with the leader’s left hand at the follower’s eye level. Partners bend their knees slightly left and right, thus making the hips move left and right. The hips of the leader and follower move in the same direction throughout the song. Partners may walk sideways or circle each other, in small steps. They can switch to an open position and do separate turns without letting go each other’s hands or releasing one hand. During these turns they may twist and tie their handhold into intricate pretzels. Other choreographies are possible.

Merengue is the official music and dance of the Dominican Republic. The dance originated from the slaves working in sugar beet fields. These slaves were connected to one another by a chain strapped to their ankles and had to walk in such a manner as to drag one leg.

Although the tempo of the music may be frenetic, the upper body is kept majestic and turns are slow, typically four beats/steps per complete turn. Learn more here… 

NIGHT CLUB TWO-STEP:

Nightclub Two Step (Nightclub Two-step, NC2S, sometimes Disco Two Step or California Two Step) was initially developed by Buddy Schwimmer in the mid-1960s. The dance is also known as “Two Step” and was a popular form of contemporary social dance known as a Disco Couples Dance in 1978. It is frequently danced to mid-tempo ballads in 4/4 time that have a characteristic Quick-Quick-Slow beat. A classic example is the song Lady In Red. Learn more here…

POLKA:

This dance was introduced to society in 1844. Every now and then it is revived because of its boisterous charm. It was supposed to have been originally created by a Bohemian girl. The basic step consists of a preparatory hop followed by a chase done first to the left then to the right. Curiously enough, it reappeared in the 1940’s in the Cha Cha as one of the more popular steps. Still danced quite often throughout the country. Learn more here…

RHUMBA:

Rhumba has also been described by some as a complex combination of folkloric music and dance. This may because of the influences rhumba has from the music and culture presented by Africans who were brought by the Spanish colonizers to Cuba to be slaves.

While the syncopated rhythms are clearly of African origin, the musical framework is largely based in the musical traditions of Spain. The various styles of rhumba derive their melodies, patterns and instrumentation from seguidillas, copla, peteneras, jotas, soleares, malagueñas, isas, folías and their related dances. Learn more here…

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. Learn more here…

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. Learn more here…

TANGO:

There are essentially three types of Tango – Argentine, American and International Style (Puttin’ on the Ritz teaches American Tango):

  • 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.
  • Argentine Tango (arrabalero) was created by the Gauchos in Buenos Aires. The dancer interprets the music spontaneously without any predetermined slow or quick steps.
  • International Tango is a highly disciplined and distinctively structured form of the Tango which is accepted worldwide as the format for dancesport events. Learn more here…

WALTZ:

Shocking many when it was first introduced, the waltz became fashionable in Vienna around the 1780s, spreading to many other countries in the years to follow. It became fashionable in Britain during the Regency period, though the entry in the Oxford English Dictionary shows that it was considered “riotous and indecent” as late as 1825. The waltz, and especially its closed position, became the example for the creation of many other ballroom dances. Subsequently, new types of waltz have developed, including many folk and several ballroom dances.

Waltz is characterized by the pendulum swing body action. Other general elements of ballroom technique important for Waltz are foot parallelism, rise and fall, contra body movement and sway. Learn more here… 

WEST COAST SWING:

West Coast Swing (WCS) is a partner dance with roots in Lindy Hop. It is characterized by a distinctive elastic look that results from its basic extension-compression technique of partner connection, and is danced primarily in a slotted area on the dance floor. The dance allows for both partners to improvise steps while dancing together, putting West Coast Swing in a short list of dances that put a premium on improvisation. Learn more here…