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Let's Talk Dance!: Latin Dances

Have you ever heard of Latin dances before? Well, if you love dance you’re sure to love the colorful world of Latin dancing as well! Today, we’re going to take a look at the five Latin dances: Samba, Cha Cha Cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive. I’m going to tell you all about their origins, characteristics and some fun facts!




1- Samba

Our first dance, “Samba”, originates from Brazil. It was invented by African slaves who were brought to Brazil.(1) You might know this dance from the famous Rio Carnival where it is always performed by professional dancers. Samba’s characteristics can be described as “life of the party”, fun, energetic and colorful. Its signature is its bounce movements which make the dance look dynamic and fun. And as a fun fact, you would be shocked if you knew how many modern Turkish rap songs have a Samba beat!



2- Cha Cha Cha

Our next dance is “Cha Cha Cha”. This dance originates from Cuba. It evolved from another type of dance called “Mambo”, though Mambo is faster.(2) The spirit of Cha Cha Cha is cheeky, flamboyant, maybe even pretentious. Its characteristic’s strong and sharp movements make Cha Cha Cha very eye-catching.



3- Rumba

The “Rumba” is, just like Cha Cha Cha, a Cuban dance. And although it is much slower, Rumba has many similarities with Cha Cha Cha in terms of the figures used, the technique and the pose (The pose means how the dancer should stand in a dance depending on the dance’s characteristics and the technique. For example wether the legs should be straight or bent, the knees locked or not etc.). Rumba is easy to differentiate due to how slow it is compared to all the other dances. It is emotional, romantic, dramatic and it is the hardest dance out of all the five dances in terms of the technique. Because it’s so slow, every movement can be observed easily so any mistake in the technique can be detected easily by the judges. Like the Samba, it was invented by African slaves in Cuba in the sixteenth century.(3) Also, did you know that the word “Rumba” comes from the Spanish word “rumbear” which means “to party”?(4)



4- Paso Doble

Now, onto our next dance which is “Paso Doble”. This dance originates from Spain though it has been developed and has become the Paso Doble we know today in France. It is heavily influenced by Spain’s traditional bull fights, the dancer representing the matador. Thus, this dance is also extremely dramatic though it differs from Rumba. Where Rumba is emotional and romantic; Paso Doble is serious, aggressive. The dancer, during Paso Doble, is much like a fighter on the attack. Paso Doble’s pose differs a lot from all the other five dances because it has a special pose that requires the dancers to thrust their hips forward, standing in a stance that looks like a banana. (Though it sounds a lot more funny than it actually is when I put it that way.) Most Paso Doble songs are all based on the same music which you might be familiar with: España Cañi.



5- Jive

Our final dance, the “Jive”. Jive originates from USA. It is a combination of many styles such as Swing, Boogie, Lindy Hop, Rock’n’Roll and Jitterbug.(5) Jive is very fast so to dance it well while also not missing a beat is much harder than the other five dances. It is fun and energetic and sweet. I remember my dance teacher once said if Jive were a color it would be “candy pink” and I think that captures Jive’s characteristics better than any other description. Jive has jump movements as its signature. Combining its fast beat with all that jumping requires a really strong stamina. And a fun fact about Jive: Its name comes from the slang word “jive” or “jive talk” which means “fake” or “deceptive talk” used by the African-American community in USA!(6)



That’s a wrap on Latin dances! There is definitely a place for everyone in this colorful world. Which one did you like the most? Which one do you think you would be if you were a dance? Also, if you’re interested in watching these dances here are some links:




References:

2- [Social Dance] Fun Facts About the Cha Cha. | Siti Dance Studio, https://sitidance.com/social-dance-fun-facts-about-dancing-the-cha-cha/

5- Modern Jive | Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Jive

Jive Dance: Learn the History and Characteristics of Jive Dance | MasterClass, https://www.masterclass.com/articles/jive-dance-explained

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