7 Time Undefeated United States International Latin Champion Corky Ballas recently sat down with José and Aimée of Dance Teachers Academy. They discussed the struggles he experienced during his dance career, his partnership with Shirley Ballas and what it was like having Mark Ballas, Julianna Hough and Derek Hough all in the same house.
2 Time Open To The World British International Latin Champion
7 Time Undefeated United States International Latin Champion
Star, International, European & United Kingdom Champion
3 Time British National Champion
Producer of Compact Disc “Passion” and “Passion Too”
Shirley Ballas is a British ballroom dancer who specializes in Latin dance and has won numerous championships earning her the nickname, The Queen of Latin.
She started dancing at the age of 7. While attending her weekly Girl Guide class she noticed a ballroom dance class next door. She was fascinated with the class and started lessons the following Saturday. This was the beginning of her lifelong love affair with Ballroom and Latin Dance.
By the age 23 she had won all major titles worldwide. Some of the most memorable titles for her include: 3 times British Open Champion, European Champion and 10 times Open United States Latin American Champion.
Shirley Ballas & her history with Dance Vision
Shirley was a Latin coach for Wayne & Donna Eng c. 1984- c.1992. She was instrumental in helping them become 3-time United States Latin Finalists, United States Rising Star Vice-Champions, 3 time Blackpool Rising Star Finalists, and Eastern United States Champions. Wayne credits her with giving him the confidence to believe in himself.
In 1996, she retired from competitive dancing at Blackpool. In 2017 Shirley Ballas returned to Blackpool. to join the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing, replacing Len Goodman as head judge.
Her judging style is a no nonsense approach. She’s a real stickler when it comes to technique but she is fair. She is returning as a judge for series 16 of the ballroom competition on BBC One this Fall. Fellow judges Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood, and Darcey Bussell, will also be back this year.
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!
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, 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!
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 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 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.