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Top 10 Ballroom Dances

Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff

August 9, 2010
Filed Under Sports 

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Contributed by Michael Sanibel, Catalogs.com Info Guru

Dancing really is a universal language, and any list of popular dances depends on several things: your age, country you live in, type of music you like or grew up with, and your physical skills. So any ranking of dances can only be based on personal taste and experience and is likely to generate lots of debate.


For this particular list, the included dances are the version known as “American Style” which is taught in most U. S. dance studios. These are typically further classified into either “smooth” or “rhythm” dances. The rhythm dances are known as “Latin” in the terminology of the “International Style” of dancing.

If you haven’t tried any of these dances, it may be time to slip on your dance shoes and take a trip around the ballroom. Here they are:

10. Merengue



One of the easiest to learn, this dance originated in the Dominican Republic. It features a straight-line side-step that incorporates a variety of patterns built around the basic step. The steady beat of the music is unmistakable, and the sharp, precise rhythm keeps the dance light and fun.

9. Quickstep



This dance is far more popular in Great Britain and other parts of Europe than in the USA. As the name implies, it’s a fast-moving dance filled with skips, hops, and kicks. It’s believed to have evolved from a fast version of the Foxtrot combined with elements of the Charleston.

8. Samba



This dance first appeared in Brazil in the early 1900s. It’s filled with high energy and a distinctive step. While it appears to be a bounce-step, those that are skilled in this dance establish a fluid body motion with a distinct Cuban motion. In addition to being a great dance, it’s an excellent source of exercise and the dynamic music will get you on the dance floor.

7. Tango



The Argentine Tango originated in the bordellos of Buenos Aires, but the American version is quite different. It features dramatic body movements executed with flair and staccato motion along the line of dance. The dancers may heighten the drama with a rose in the lady’s mouth and unusually flashy dancewear.

6. Cha Cha



Even if you don’t know this dance, you’ve heard the beat: one, two, three, cha-cha-cha. This Latin dance is all about syncopated foot movement and Cuban motion, and is a slowed-down offshoot of the Mambo. It has character, excitement, a driving rhythm, and is instantly recognizable on the dance floor.

5. Rhumba



One of the most sensual and romantic dances, Rumba originated in Cuba with the heavy influence of Africans brought to the Caribbean islands. It features a movement known as “Cuban motion” that causes very suggestive hip motion. The slow-quick-quick beat lends itself to a variety of songs from a wide genre of music. If you only want to learn one slow dance and you don’t choose Waltz, you should definitely consider Rumba.

4. Swing



This dance became very popular during World War II and was fueled by music from greats like Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. While the dance has several variations, the most common in the U. S. is known as East Coast Swing. It features fast and sometimes acrobatic moves with a lot of tempo.

3. Salsa



While the name is American, the dance originated in Cuba through an evolution of several Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances. It’s become very popular with young people at Salsa clubs throughout the world. It’s fast, the music is upbeat, and allows for creativity and free movement. The biggest advantage is that you can learn the steps without a lot of formal training.

2. Waltz



Originating in Europe in the late 1700s, the Waltz is seen in many old movies featuring ladies in flowing gowns circling the huge ballroom. This version of the dance is known as the Viennese Waltz and is faster than the more modern form of Waltz. Songwriters slowed down the beat for ballads and love songs, which is why this dance is so popular at proms, graduations, and weddings. Its one-two-three beat is known throughout the world and is easy to pick up, even for beginners. Where there are high fashion and romantic couples, you will almost always find the Waltz.

1. Foxtrot



When Harry Fox took the stage in New York almost 100 years ago, little did he know he was creating a sensation. It’s a classic smooth dance that has undergone many changes since then, primarily a softening of the movements and range of motion. It may be the most popular social dance in the world because of its distinctive beat and ease of learning. Orchestras all play this music, featuring the songs of renowned artists like Frank Sinatra.

Shows like Dancing with the Stars, and their celebrity cast dancing ballroom classics, and So You Think You Can Dance are casting a wonderful spotlight on dance.

Whether you love dance as a competitive sport, an art, recreation or as a spectator, you are certain to have your own favorite.

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