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Matt Karr - Social Dance Lessons
Phoenix/Scottsdale Dance Studios - 602.694.4088

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Ballroom Dance Lessons, Cha Cha, Rumba, Waltz, Foxtrot!

Ballroom dancing has experienced quite a revival since DWTS, and you don't need to be left behind. You can learn these dances and enjoy all the benefits of ballroom dancing, including making new friends and staying fit!

Since the early days of the 20th Century, partner dancing and dancing cheek to cheek were loved by all. It was glorified in the early movies since the days Rudolph Valentino enthralled audiences with his sultry Tango. And by the time Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with their beautiful waltz, foxtrot and quickstep arrived on the Silver Screen, we were already hooked on dancing. Waltz, foxtrot, swing, Quickstep, Jive or Jitterbug gave us all a chance to strut our stuff on a Saturday night to the Big Band music. Ballrooms flourished across the country, crowded dance floors were common as couples set out to dance their cares away. It worked for stress relief and romance then and it still works now!

You're never too old to start dancing. It is a great exercise that can be enjoyed all through your life. And most  Seniors love dancing as much as younger folks. Age should not prevent you from "steppin out".

The Waltz considered "scandalous" at its beginning has been traced back as far as the 16th century. It was mentioned that couples held each other so closely that their faces touched! The gliding steps around the floor were next noted in the late 17th century, and where else but the Austrian Court. And of course that brings us right up to the 18th century and the waltzes of Strauss. The Viennese Waltz had sped up from the earlier dances and couples were mad for "waltzing around the floor".

A "hesitation waltz" was introduced about 1910 by Vernon and Irene Castle and variations on that theme have been incorporated into the International Standard Waltz. In contemporary ballroom dance, the faster versions are called Viennese Waltz. The waltz is danced in 3/4 time with a drag, fast, fast step which makes the box step for the Waltz. The Waltz is another great favorite for brides and their wedding dance!

The Foxtrot was developed in the early 1900s by a vaudeville star named Harry Fox. He would "trot" around the stage with various partners with a long and slow step. It was smoother than The Polka or One-Step which were the current dances at that time quickly gave way to the Foxtrot, which became the most popular ballroom dance of the day. It bears his name to this day.

The Cha Cha evolved in Cuba in the mid 50s, when Cuban music was at its height. The dance was a little different in that it started  on the second beat. A visiting dance teacher to Cuba, named Monsieur Pierre saw the dance and took the dance patterns back home to England and created what we now call the Cha Cha. You can feel the rhythm of this dance and really get into the movements. You don't make sweeping moves across the floor, but rather dance in a small space and move those hips! The Cha Cha is very popular and is danced in the clubs, at weddings, onboard ship and at other social gatherings. It's fun and a "real let yourself go" type of dance. Everyone can and should learn to dance the Cha Cha.

The Rumba is a slow and romantic dance, completely different from the dance of the same name that originated in Africa. The Rumba as it is danced today is based on the Cuban "Bolero" and once again owes its interpretation to Monsieur Pierre from the note above. Latin hip movement is especially important in this dance, the hip sways over the weighted leg and gives the sultry effect that everyone loves. The basic box step of the Rumba is pictured at right! The Box Step is a basic dance which forms a pattern of a square or a box. It is the basic step in a number of American ballroom dances. If you're looking for a romantic dance for your Wedding First Dance, this might be it!

Just ask any Brazilian in Scottsdale/Phoenix area (and there are many) what they like to do best. Their response will be "Samba". It is the traditional dance of brazil's annual "carnivale" and the Samba schools come out enforce. Carmen Miranda (although Portuguese) was the first to bring the Samba to the U.S. The dance is very lively to say the least. The basic movement involves a straight body and a bending of one knee at a time. The feet move very slightly - only a few inches at a time. The rhythm is 2/4, with 3 steps per measure. It can be thought of as a step-ball-change. Just watch Carmen in all her glory below and catch her knee and hip action.



The exact history of the Tango is a little sketchy. But regardless of its historic background and influences from the cultures of several peoples, Argentina can and does claim the dance as its own. The first Tango craze took place in Paris around 1912 (think Apache dancers in the wrong side of town clubs). Considered a shocking dance, it still didn't take long for society to clamor for it. And so, the lowly Tango moved from the darker side of town to the upscale dance palaces of the day.

After the death of Peron, the Tango diminished in popularity, but was resurrected by the French dance show "Tango Argentino", which was on the Broadway stage in 1985. Since that time it has once again gained in popularity as a ballroom dance.

Today you will see many techniques, forms and style of Tango being taught. We try to keep it simple, but still capture the allure of the evolving styles. The Argentine Tango has been the subject of more films than any other dance. its mystery continues. Let us unravel it for you. You will love it.

There are many other dances that are also categorized as Ballroom, but as many are usually danced in a club environment, we have listed them in our club and social dancing page. These dances include West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop. We hope you also will browse the Latin dances such as
Salsa Mambo and Merengue.

Try our ballroom lessons, we know you'll fall in love with ballroom dancing!
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Benefits of Dancing
Dancing for Seniors!

 


The Waltz in the Ballroom




The Tango danced on the streets

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