Foxtrot Waltz Tango Swing Rumba Cha Cha Salsa Wedding

DANCE TIPS FOR DANCE STEPS

How to hear ballroom dancing music II: Counting

Each ballroom dance has its own "rhythm" within the musical timing. In order to marry this dance rhythm to the music, we typically count our steps in "Slows" (S) and "Quicks" (Q), where slow is worth 2 beats and quick is worth just 1 beat. Different dances are counted differently:

Tango -- SSQQS
Theoretically, because it has 2 beats per bar, Tango should be counted 2 beats at a time. This can be confusing however, and it is far more practical to count a phrase of 4 or even 8 beats of music at a time. All of our steps are 8 counts long, and so we will always count in groups of 8. The basic rhythm we use, which applies to almost all of our steps is: SSQQS.

Fox Trot -- SSQQ
Although Foxtrot music has 4 beats per bar, the basic dance rhythm is 6 counts long: SSQQ. This means that a basic step takes 1½ bars of music (just like Swing). You can see below that although the beginning and end of the steps don't always match the beginning and end of the bars, they do match up every 3 bars. More experienced Foxtrot dancers often use steps with alternative rhythms like the box step and chasses, to match the dancing to the music when it feels good to do so.

Waltz -- 123
Waltz is not difficult to count to because both the steps and the music are grouped in even counts of three. Remember though, that because there are an odd number of counts, you will start dancing each new bar on a different foot. Because of this, it is sometimes helpful to count two bars at a time (123 - 456), to give a sense of completion to each step.

Rumba -- SQQ
Rumba feels great to dance to because, like the Waltz, the timed dance steps fit evenly into 4 beat bars of music. A full Rumba basic takes 2 bars of music. It is sometimes helpful to count 12345678.

Cha Cha -- 1234&
Cha Cha music can feel fast because there are 5 steps to make in 4 beats of music. The extra step happens on the 4th beat, which means that the 4th beat is split in 2. We count "&" on this ½ beat. A full basic step takes place over 8 beats.

Swing -- SSQQ
Swing music has 4 beats per bar, but the basic dance rhythm is 6 counts long: SSQQ. This means that a basic step takes 1½ bars of music (just like Foxtrot). Again, the beginning and end of the steps don't always match the beginning and end of the bars.

Swing can also be danced with a triple rhythm that has 8 steps in the basic pattern. The triple rhythm is counted: Q&Q Q&Q QQ.

Triple rhythm Swing will often feel more comfortable for Swing music that is slower, while single rhythm works better for faster songs.

Salsa -- QQS
There are a few different ways of using the 4 beats of Salsa music to make a dance rhythm. And while some people have very strong convictions about the 'rightness' of their way of counting, the bottom line is that you can have a great time dancing either rhythm. In our syllabus we count QQS and dance the first Quick on the 1st beat of music. This is probably the easier rhythm to dance, because it starts on the '1' beat of the music, which is natural for most people. Alternatively, some dancers hold the first beat of music and start dancing 'on 2'. Dancing this count, you start on the 2nd beat and count 2 3 4 hold. (Notice that this is just QQS starting on the 2nd beat). This is often thought of as Mambo rhythm, but it can be danced to any Salsa music.

Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.

How to hear ballroom dancing music II: Counting
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 9/22/2006 11:56:00 AM


How to hear ballroom dancing music I: Meter

Most ballroom dancing music is organized in a simple structure that can be easily understood without getting too technical. Typically a "beat" refers to a drum beat. A group of beats is a "bar" or "measure". Finally a group of bars is a "phrase". Meter is the way the beats are grouped in the bars - usually by 2's, 3's or 4's. Different dances have different meters.

Most ballroom dances have a meter of either 2, 3 or 4 beats per bar.

As you can see 4 beats per bar is a pretty popular meter for ballroom dances. In fact since most ballroom dancing music has 4 beats per bar, you can theoretically dance most steps to most songs.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between 2 and 4 beats per bar, because of the even numbers of beats. However, it is usually easy to recognize a Waltz because of its distinct 3 beat rhythm. If you hear a strong 3 beat rhythm, then the song is definitely a Waltz. If you hear even numbers of beats, you will also need to consider the tempo and character of the music, before you decide on your dance.

Andrew

Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.

How to hear ballroom dancing music I: Meter
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 9/14/2006 07:59:00 PM


Ballroom Dancing Quotes

Some of our favorite dance quotes:


Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room. - Kurt Vonnegut


For the good are always the merry Save by an evil chance And the merry love the fiddle And the merry love to dance. - William Butler Yeats, The Fiddler of Dooney


The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing. Any problem in the world can be solved by dancing. - James Brown


There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them. - Vicki Baum


We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb


Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. - Dave Barry


Dancing is wonderful training for girls; it's the first way you learn to guess what a man is going to do before he does it. - Christopher Morley, Kitty Foyle


Dance till the stars come down from the rafters Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop. - W.H. Auden


Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is not mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself. - Havelock Ellis


And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche


On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined; No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet To chase the glowing hours with flying feet. - George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage


There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good. - Edwin Denby


There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and thought it time well spent. - Michel de Montaigne


God Respects Us When We Work, but He Loves Us When We Dance. - Title of a documentary film by Les Blanc about a 1960's love-in in Los Angeles


All dancing girls are nineteen years old. - Japanese proverb


You don't stop dancing from growing old, you grow old from stopping to dance. - Unknown


Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance. - Unknown


Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music. - George Bernard Shaw


Those move easiest who have learned to dance. - Alexander Pope


We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche


The girl who can't dance says the band can't play. - Yiddish Proverb


Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.

Ballroom Dancing Quotes
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 9/07/2006 09:35:00 PM


MOVIE REVIEW: Take the Lead starring Antonio Banderas

Take the Lead, starring Antonio Banderas, is based on the true story of Pierre Dulaine and the pioneering New York City dance program called Dancing Classrooms. The program teaches kids the classic ballroom dances like the waltz, tango, foxtrot, rumba, swing and merengue. It has been a tremendous success and now includes over 60 participating schools from all over NYC. The recent documentary Mad Hot Ballroom is also inspired by this story.

Take the Lead gets rolling when Pierre finds a high school student vandalizing his principal's car. When he goes to meet the school principal to talk the situation over he sees the difficulty of the students position and volunteers to take on a small group of troubled kids as their detention supervisor and dance teacher. Despite the barrier of their very different world-views and life situations, Dulaine and the students eventually find common ground in the dancing that enables them to better understand each other and themselves. The group does learn to dance, but they also learn about dedication, forgiveness and respect as well. In the end all their hard work and learning pays off as they head off to a local dance competition and stun the local dance scene with not only their skin color but also their passionate moves and uninhibited style.

From a dance perspective Take the Lead definitely has some nice dance scenes. In particular the Tango that Dulaine inspires the kids with in the detention area is fantastic. It is intense and passionate with lots of interesting choreography. For me this dance was the best part of the movie. It was also cool to see that they brought in so much Hip Hop music and dancing to this movie. It gave it a great energy that complemented the ballroom dancing and also created a bit of a theme of old vs. new that gave more life to both styles.

While it is a fun movie derived from a fantastic true-life story, it's probably safe to say that Take the Lead is not going to win any Oscar's. The movie is pretty cliché; if you are sensitive to bad dialogue, one dimensional characters, and a storyline you've seen before, then Take the Lead may have you cringing at times (this is pretty much the norm for ballroom dancing movies unfortunately). That said it is certainly a nice story, and if you're looking for something light and fun with great music and lots of dancing, then Take the Lead might be an ideal choice. Also, for what it's worth, every woman I know says it's worth seeing just for Antonio Banderas!

Happy Dancing!

Andrew

Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.

MOVIE REVIEW: Take the Lead starring Antonio Banderas
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 9/02/2006 06:13:00 PM


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