Scientists believe that dance is an inherent animal characteristic used to communicate.  One of the most obvious illustrations of this feature are the mating dances of birds.  But it is broader than mating. 
The Praying Mantis often uses rhythmic moves to hypnotize its prey just before a strike.   Religious ceremonies used it with music to describe events.  Egyptians used it to show sorrow at funerals.  Greeks danced to open athletic competitions.  Cave drawings from India 9000 years ago showed ritual dancing.

A. Benefits of Dancing.

There are studies proving that dancing is healthy for the brain and body?   Harvard Medical School Dept. of Neurobiology published an article in 2017 showing positive health benefits, particularly brain function, associated with dancing.   In 2008 researchers studied the benefits from dancing.  Brain imagining showed specific areas of brain improvements.  A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that dancing improves brain health.  It studied the effect of various physical activities (cycling, dancing, golf, swimming, and tennis) on cognitive brain function.   Only one showed a positive response—dancing.  A study in 2015 showed that it is beneficial for the overall cerebral health.   The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation found that it promotes production of dopamine, and that it allowed people with Parkinson to “speak and walk better.”

B. Types or Styles.

Waltz:   One source stated that it was a folk dance filled with rolls, glides, and turns.  Other sources believed it started from the Volta comprising two steps and a leap. 

By the end of the 16th century the people of Vienna embraced the Waltz for the royal court.   At that time the royal dances were rigid and controlled with no smiles.  But the waltz changed that, and it sparked a mini revolt.  France took up the waltz, but they danced it apart.  This changed in the 1800’s when the music of Johann Strauss became popular.   Currently, there are many forms of the waltz including the Contemporary aka Viennese Waltz, International Standard, American Style, Mexican, the Cajun Waltz, the Tango based Valse, and the cross-step Waltz.  The popularity of the American Fox Trot almost destroyed the Waltz after WWI, but it came back strongly in the mid 1900’s.

Rumba or Rhumba.  The term rumba is synonymous with “party” in northern Cuba.  Some say the word developed in Spain meaning lavish display.  Most place the origin in the poor neighborhoods of Havana, Cuba.  Originally it was done to fast music with sexually frantic moves causing Cuban government to ban it in public.  It entered the United States on the East Coast in the 1920’s and particularly in the context with big band music.  In the 1940’s and 1950 the Mexican and American film industry romanticized it.  The emergence of Salsa in the 1950’s revitalized its popularity.   In the ballroom setting, the music timing slowed.  It is a rhythmic and syncopated dance in duple (2 beats per measure) time.   

Bolero.  This Spanish dance mimics the movements of the toreador in a bullfight.  The introduction is call Paseo, the crossing is called the Tranversa, the Differencias are a series of steps showing grace and balance, and the Finales are where the dancers pass each other in a flirtatious manner.  The Bien parado is a graceful acknowledgement of the audience. 

It is similar to the Rhumba but slower at about 96 beats per minute.  It utilizes the rise and fall similar to the foxtrot, but the third step is extremely slow providing an opportunity to emphasize the sexy seductive moves.

The Bolero changed from a three-four, or Waltz beat to a four-four time in Cuba, which is used today.  The tag name “Dance of Love” was adopted in Cuba. 

West Coast Swing:     Most people acknowledge that the West Coast Swing developed as an off shoot of Lindy Hop.  Dean Collins in Los Angeles had an influence in its development along with Arthur Murray.  It was declared the official dance of California in 1988 by Senate Bill 2460 and became law without the signature of Governor George Deukmejian.  It is a slotted dance performed to any music with a 4/4 time, both slow (60 bpm) to fast (160 bpm) with a preferred beat around 108 bpm.   The most common basic figures are the underarm pass, left side pass, tuck pass, sugar push and the whip.  The West Coast Swing is enjoyed worldwide with the most dominate scene being the United States.  

The West Coast Swing and the Salsa are the two most danced styles in the clubs and bars across the United States. 

Argentine Tango.    In the early 1800’s many Spanish, Italian and African single men immigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina looking for fortunes.  They frequented the bars in the bordello district looking for love.  There a “mating dance” became popular with a blend of European, African, and Cuban music.  It was considered by the upper crust as sleazy, which only made it more alluring to the younger generation.    The African word for tango means “reserved ground.”  The men’s dress included slouch hats, loosely tied neckerchiefs, a knife often tucked in the belt, and high heeled boots. 

Anything satin was the ladies’ choice as long as it was slinky, had a long slit, and black.   The Embrace is a major component of the dance with the chests of the partners touching and the hips apart – the opposite for most ballroom dances.  The walk is mostly outside the legs of the followers, and often the men and women step with the same foot, i.e., both with their left foot and then right foot.   The ladies perform most of the intricate moves while the men take sole possession of “the attitude.”  

Night Club 2-Step.   According to Wikipedia, this dance was developed by 15-year-old Buddy Swimmer in the 1960’s.  Swimmer was a West Coast Swing dancer from Whitaker, Illinois.  He opened a studio in Costa Mesa, California in 1978 and it blossomed around the country.  It is danced to mi-tempo ballads in 4/4 time with a quick-quick-slow beat at 64-88 BPM.  The most noticeable song is Lady in Red.    It has a lot of similar moves as the Bolero and Rumba.    Ballroom dancers modified the rock backwards step and changed it into a side-crossing step as in Bolero.  This version has become known as the Ballroom Two Step.  

Fox Trot.  A California native Harry Fox (stage name) was a Vaudeville actor who moved to New York after the devastating San Francisco earthquake.  He popularized it (some say it was created by Vernon and Irene Castle) in 1914 on the roof of the Theatre Jardin de Danse.  There he performed his trotting steps to ragtime music.  It was a unique merger of slow syncopated 4/4 blues movements with eloquent long smooth strides.  The American Social Style uses a six-count Slow-Slow Quick-Quick steps while the International Style adopts a more aggressive four-count Slow-Quick-Quick pattern.

Polka.   The Czech word (pulka) for this dance means half step. This is a fast-paced with skips and jumps.  Some say that the current Polka had its origins in Czech region of Bohemia in the 1830’s.  A young worker named Anna Selezakova did a dance she called Madera.  It was fun and it quickly spread throughout Bohemia.  It is currently the most popular dance in the Czech Republic.  Polish refugees brought the Polka to the United States in the Chicago region.  The strides are one full step followed by two half steps following 2 beats per measure with jumps while constantly turning.  It is a very high energy dance.

Jive.    The Jive originated in the United States in the 1930’s.  Cab Calloway was a motivating force in bringing it to the forefront.  But so too was the Glen Miller Band. 

It is a high energy similar to the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug.  It is often referred to as Swing Dancing.   It involves two triple steps with patterns and concluding with a back rock step.  The East Coast Swing is an off shoot of the Jive.  However, the West Coast Swing is a slotted dance pattern, which is entirely different.

Salsa.  Most people trace the roots to Cuba and specifically Santiago, Cuba.  When Castro took power, the dance moved to Puerto Rica and then to New York City.  It was in New York that it blossomed. 

All bars across the United States with a dance floor played Salsa music and danced to the salsa beat.  It is basically, one, two, three, pause on four; then five, six, seven, pause on eight.   There are many turns, dips, and skips that keeps this dance fun to watch.  Hip movements are required.  There are world, International, and United State Salsa Championships with various styles. 

The social Salsa has almost completely dominated the conventional Latin dances of Cha-Cha, Paso Doble, Rumba, and Samba. 

There is Salsa Rueda where groups of dancers switch partners.  A person known as the “caller” shouts out a move and all of the dancers’ exchange partners in accordance with a specific routine.  In noisy venues, the caller uses his fingers to communicate an exchange maneuver.  The largest Salsas Rueda involved 1102 participants and done at the Aristotelous Square in Thessaloniki, Greece on June 1, 2014.  The best number in a Rueda Salsa is from 3 to 6 couples. 

Chicken Dance.  This dance does not require a partner.  It is a staple at school parties and a must at all Oktoberfest celebrations.  It was created by a Swiss musician named Werner Thomas and designed to mimic snow skiers.  The song and dance were created at the same time.  The record sold 40 million copies. 

This song is usually played at most US weddings along with YMCA and Macarena.   More people know how to do the Chicken Dance over most of the ballroom dances. 

C. Names with Embedded Links to Websites.

Perform an internet search for your area for ballroom dancing, or dance venues.  There will be thousands of venues.  Here are few of the websites with a national scope. 

D. Dance Connections in Healing Fears.

Dancing helps heal many types of communication fears.  Walking across a dance floor to ask someone to dance is a courage builder.  If your turned down, it teaches that rejection is not about you. 

For the person asked to dance, it builds courage and caring.  

The science points to Dancing as the number one activity for brain and body health.   If you have a fear of your weight or body, dancing is a great way to calm those fear.  If you have ever watched dancing with the stars, you must have noticed that not a single dancer gained weight during the period.  On the other hand, non-professional dancers who lost weight during the period was nearly all of them.  

Here are a couple of hidden fear busters. 

  • For leaders, it helps with fears of making decisions.  A leader makes hundreds of dance move decisions per song. 
  • For the follower, it improves non-verbal communication skills.   A slight weigh shift, a pause, the turn of the head, or a hundred other things without a single word being said.  

A Persian girl was asked, how can you flirt with someone when you cannot talk, and your face is covered?   She went on for several minutes describing a dozen eye movements all communicating a different thing. The eyes are incredibly important in non-verbal communications.

There are expensive seminars on non-verbal communication skills.   Dancing is more effective, fun, and it’s free.

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