How To Tell The Difference – Social Latin Dancing

If you are new to the dance world, it can be difficult to tell dances in the same genre apart. Here’s a quick guide to few in the ever-popular social Latin dance category!

MERENGUE

Firstly, we’ll start with the simple and casual Merengue dance. Originally a Dominican dance (and the official dance of their country), Merengue is an easy dance to introduce a new student to Latin Dancing. It follows a very steady  1-2-1-2 beat with a simple hip motion that can be built upon later for other types of dance in the future. It’s a very social and lighthearted dancing, not nearly as passionate and intimate as most Latin dances.

CHA CHA

Cha Cha, or “cha-cha-cha!”  is one of the more popular social Latin dances. Made popular in the 1950’s when Americans often visited Cuba. It’s often used danced to with Latin Pop and Latin Rock with moves that are sharp and attention-grabbing. It’s rhythm is easy to master, of course. One, two, cha-cha-cha! But the technique is a bit harder to master. Basic Cha Cha steps consist of a rockstep and chasse. That rockstep and, of course, flourishes and hip movement, this playful dance one of the most loved Latin dances today!

 

SALSA

Originating from groovy and stylish 1970’s New York, Salsa dancing is a combination of dance styles. It’s based in techniques found in Cha Cha and Mambo with an influence of Swing dancing. The music it’s danced to has influence from African drums. The steps are usually two quick steps and one slow, and more advanced social salsa dancers will add flourishes and turns to add to their performance.

 

SAMBA

Samba originated in Brazil at the beginning of the 20th century. It is danced in 4/4 or 2/4 time and can be danced alone or with a partner.  This dance is very popular among Latin dances and is characterized by being danced to Samba music and the slight dropping movement that come with a small dropping action in basic steps.

BACHATA

Bachata is another social Latin dance originating from the Dominican Republic, named after Bachata guitar music. It’s a dance that is very close to the body and involves lots of hip swaying and turning. Typically the dance is done holding both hands but it tends to become more intimate, much like the tango.

 

Keep studying different types of Latin Dance and you will be able to recognize them with no problem. Never limit yourself to just the more popular ones! It’s wonderful and fun to know so many kinds of Latin dance and will earn respect among your peers.

 

Work Worth Doing

“Far and way the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

One of our favorite things about this interview is the emphasis that Forrest Vance has on positivity. Positivity allows you to view yourself with potential. It’s a form of visualization. You see yourself having a chance at success.

Of course, positive thinking does not come easily to most people. For most, it’s the opposite of their instinct. It is so easy, particularly as a new dancer, to become overwhelmed and want to quit. So how does one change a mindset from a negative to a positive way of thinking?

There’s never one answer that works for everyone, of course. One thing that successful people have in common is to work with pleasure toward their goals. Realize that what you want to do is worthwhile, important, and fun, and that it will continue even if you do not continue with it. Furthermore, by studying it, you become even more worthwhile, important, and fun (well, more so than you already are!).

This is not meant to discourage. In fact, it should urge you to chase after what you want before it slips from your fingers! There is so much to learn, so many techniques, so many people who love dancing just as much as you do. What good does it do anyone to stop before you even begin?

Do you allow dancing to encourage or discourage you? Do you feel like you’re getting a chance to be part of something you love, getting a chance to be good at something fulfilling?

How To Build Self Confidence: An Interview With Toni Redpath


“What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don’t, quit. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.”  – David Bayles

In addition to this wonderful interview of Toni Redpath by Dance Teachers Academy Podcasts, we thought we would throw in a few extra notes for our dancers – whether a beginner who is learning how to present themselves, or an experienced dancer struggling with their confidence.

When you see your role model doing what you wish you could, you have three options on how to view that person in relation to yourself:

  1. The most popular reaction is, “I’ll never be able to do that!” This view provides low sense of capability for yourself and an untouchable and unattainable talent toward your role model. This viewpoint provides nothing but paralysis and harmful self-criticism.
  2. Looking at the role model and saying “I’m better than him/her, he/she just doesn’t know it yet.” This fist-shaking view provides a superiority complex bred of insecurity for you, and dismissal of true value and skill of your role model. While this viewpoint does not lack confidence that is needed to be successful, you will likely feel above learning the building blocks of skills that will allow you to be technically correct in dance. This can cause you to have the reputation of a know-it-all with, realistically, very little knowledge.
  3. The healthiest view, which is “How can I do that?” Not only does it give you an honest view of yourself, of all your successes and your shortcomings, it gives you a realistic goal to meet.

Only with the “How can I do that?” view can you improve. We know, it sounds cheesy. Are you surrounded with knowledgeable, kind people who are honest with you? Do they build you up when you do something correct and offer you solutions when you’re wrong? Do you recognize your mistakes and congratulate yourself on your success?  If you find yourself unable to view yourself as successful, consider what kind of criticism you’re accepting. Be kind to yourself and choose your company carefully. Dancing is supposed to be technically correct, but also FUN!