At Arthur Murray Dance Center Whitefish Bay, many dances are taught. Here is a list of the dances we teach. If you don’t see something that you want to learn, feel free to reach out.
Rhythm and Latin Dances
Latin dance styles are typically grouped into two categories for competitive dancing: International Latin and American Rhythm. American Rhythm is made up of five dances: Cha-Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing, Bolero, and Mambo. International Latin style also is made up of five dances: Cha-Cha, Rhumba, Jive, Paso Doble, and Samba. Each of these styles feature unique dances. The dances that are similar, however, have subtle differences, chiefly when it comes to technique. Dancers can find competitive events for each style. The following dances fall under the category of Latin and/or rhythm:
The syncopated steps and open movements make the Cha-Cha an easy way to add fun to your dancing. The Cha-Cha’s energetic rhythm gets dancers to cut loose, and with so many interesting combinations, dancers will feel the pulsating Latin rhythms that make this dance so interesting.
Every good Latin dancer starts with the Rumba. The Cuban Motion that it fosters is essential, and the dance is performed by dancers everywhere. Not only does the Rumba provide variety that is suited to a limited space, but it’s neat, precise footwork is fun to look at and gives dancers confidence. This classic dance sharpens one’s muscular control, timing and sense of rhythm.
Swing/East Coast Swing
Easily mastered by most individuals, Swing offers dancers a relaxed, carefree style. It’s varying speeds are the perfect training for quick footwork, leading and following — skills that will carry over to other rhythm dances. Once the patterns are mastered, dancers will see just how fun it is. A uniquely American dance, Swing encourages buoyant carefree movement.
Merengue is one of the simplest dances to learn, and its timing makes it easy to feel the music. Merengue stands alone as a dance that puts one-step timing together with Cuban Motion, making it helpful in learning other Latin dances. There is a march-type beat that helps sharpen timing and coordination. The dance also helps develop the ability to togue, while giving dancers the ability to develop a clearer interpretation of musical rhythm.
This competitive Swing dance is influenced by the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug. Jive is known for its up-tempo, single-time music. Dancers use triple steps primarily on their toes in a lively movement.
John Travolta helped make the Hustle popular in the movie “Saturday Night Fever.” The dance originated in the 1970s Disco Era, and it, along with the music, swept across the country. While the white suits and gold chains that Travolta sported in the movie have faded away, the dance has remained a popular mainstay. This fusion of Swing and Disco is still popular in nightclubs across the country.
The musical styles from the original Lindy Hop Era have seen a renaissance, firing the imagination of a new generation of Lindy Hop dancers. But, the acrobatic style found in exhibitions isn’t the same as the style enjoyed by most dancers, which is a quietly rhythmic style of dance.
West Coast Swing
Popular from Kansas to California, West Coast Swing uses slow or medium tempo Swing or Disco music. Hallmarks of the dance include push-and-pull action of dancers, slot movements, coaster steps and taps and shuffles.
The rolling action found in Samba improves flexibility and helps achieve easy movement and lightness. Moving quickly, smoothly and lightly without effort takes practice. While many consider the dance good exercise, true Samba is danced in a relaxed, smooth manner, making it appear effortless. Often referred to as the South American Waltz, the Samba contains a distinctive Latin rhythm.
The music of the Mambo has an exciting Afro-Cuban beat. A marriage of Cuban and American dancing, the Mambo enables a dancer to express his or her own feelings and emotions. Because it’s so fun, Mambo dancers are always in high demand as partners. With wild exciting music, and rhythmic movements, the Mambo is irresistible to many.
In Spanish, Salsa means “sauce,” implying a spicy, hot flavor. Some say the radio disc jockeys in Puerto Rico came up with term “Salsa” in the 1960s. The dance later became associated with a sound developed by Puerto Rican musicians in New York, but before that it was considered the national dance and music of Puerto Rico. A combination of enhanced jazz textures and an Afro-Cuban beat creates an aggressive high-energy pulse that is popular wherever you go. Patterns of the dance are like those in the Cha-Cha and Mambo.
Also known as single-time swing, the Jitterbug is typically done to faster-paced swing music. It also has been referred to as a toned-down version of the Lindy Hop. Energetic and expressive, this spot dance is useful on those crowded dance floors.
Bolero has evolved over time from a 3/4-time Spanish dance, to a 2/4-time dance in Cuba and, finally, into 4/4 time. Today, it is a slower version of Rumba rhythm. To describe it is to recall other dances — it has the contra-body motion of the Tango, the rise and fall of the Waltz, and the rhythm of the Rumba. Bolero uses techniques found in other dances to create a sensual, romantic dance.
Smooth and Standard Dances
Standard dancing is comprised of two categories: International Standard and American Smooth. International Standard is used in competitions in America and throughout the world and is made up of five dances, including the Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, and Quickstep. The International Standard is recognizable through the dancers’ closed position — where two dance partners never lose contact. Dances are noted for precise footwork, rise and fall, amounts of turn and more. American Smooth uses an open style, with the dancers separate and apart from one another. It includes the Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, and Viennese Waltz. American Smooth is found in major competitions across America and is popular at social dances. Ballroom dance steps are fun to dance because they are expressive and creative.
Following are dances that fall under the category of standard and/or smooth:
The Fox Trot is a basic dance with an attractive posture. By easily combining the steps necessary for the Fox Trot, dancers learn variety and maneuverability. In addition, slow, medium and fast tempos provide dancers with confidence, ensuring a fun and relaxing time for partners. Often called the “get-acquainted” or “First Impression” dance, it provides a foundation for other dances.
Dancers can develop control and balance through the Waltz. Its basic steps provide the patterns used in many ballroom dances. To achieve good styling, dancers should emphasize correct posture, rise and fall, and flowing movements. Dancers have opportunities to practice balance and to move lightly with ease through the elegant sweeping movement of the Waltz.
(For Argentine Style, Please Refer To “Specialty Dances”)
Characterized by dramatic movements, the Tango is among the most beautiful dances. Dancers must develop fluid graceful movements and controlled staccato footwork in order to achieve the dance’s distinctive style. The music’s unique rhythm provides great training for the dancer to develop timing and phrasing. Practicing the Tango is key in a dancer’s effort to improve.
With some help from the world’s greatest composers, including Johann Strauss and others, the Waltz eventually became more refined. Smaller steps, and smoother, more compact turns became the norm. With the flowing, graceful lilt of today’s skirts, we have the modern Viennese Waltz.
Quickstep features quick hopping steps set in smoother gliding figures. It’s the English version of the Fast Fox Trot, and its popularity in European competitions ranks it among the “Big Five.”
Country Western Dances
Arthur Murray Whitefish Bay Dance Studio offers a Country Western syllabus that focuses on a variety of popular dances, including Country Swing, and the Texas Two-Step. These are the type of dances that can be found at nearly every dance competition.
Following is a list of dances found in our Country Western Syllabus:
Progressive Two Step
The Two-Step was brought to America in the 1800s by visitors arriving from Europe. It was an offshoot of the Minuet, and it was danced as a QQSS. A signature of the dance is one hand on the shoulder “holding a can of beer” and the other hand on the side. The move grew out of the days in the old west when women weren’t allowed to dance with men, and men danced together. Another feature of the dance are the turns. The only women dancing with men at the time were Native Americans, who allegedly loved to spin, so the turns were incorporated. Two-step’s popularity has spread across the country.
Country Western Waltz
The Country Western Waltz is the “country” version of the Ballroom Waltz. The Country Western Waltz is faster and moves rapidly across the floor. The dance is considered romantic, with graceful, playful turns and spins.
Also known as the Four-Count or Pony Swing, Country Swing is known for its use of uninterrupted rock steps. The dance is fun and easy to learn for those who want to get on the dance floor right away.
West Coast Swing
West Coast Swing is a stylized dance that was popular west of the Mississippi. The dance is characterized by slot movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and push- and pull-action, and it is danced to slow Swing or Disco music.
Texas Two-Step is similar to the Progressive Two-step, this time with slower tempos of music. What separates the two is an exaggerated side-to-side brushing action done during the two slow counts of the basic.
Country Shuffle is a western spin on the Polka. It has a less hoppy Shuffle and the basic steps include a triple to the left followed by a triple to the right.
The Country Triple is similar to the East Coast Swing, with one main difference, the rock step is taken out and replaced with walking steps and the dance progresses across the floor.
Arthur Murray specializes in all dance, following are miscellaneous dances that don’t fit into a specific category, but are still popular and challenging. Those who are interested in learning a specific dance should contact us.
Everyone knows the Polka. It was introduced in 1844, and its boisterous charm keeps it coming back. Even today, the Polka is danced regularly. Supposedly created by a bohemian girl, the basic steps consist of a preparatory hop followed by a chasse done first to the left and then to the right. The step appeared in the 1940s as part of the Cha-Cha’s more poplar steps.
When it first appeared in the West Indies, only the lower classes danced the Argentine Tango. The dance eventually appeared in Argentina, where Gauchos in Buenos Aries recreated it, except they danced it in a closed ballroom position. Its name is from the African Tanganya. The dance was a sensation, and a subdued version spread across the world.
Nightclub 2 Step
This playful dance is perfect for many pop songs. Done to 4/4-time music, its patterns are similar to Salsa but with a smoother, slower style. The dance has a good tempo for slower, romantic ballads and is popular for newlyweds at their weddings.
Related to Fox Trot, the Slow Dance is done on smaller, crowded dance floors and with even timing. It’s the perfect dance for those couples who want to get on the floor immediately.