Latin American Dance

Latin American dances are the ballroom and folk dances that originated in Latin America. These dances are now included in international dance competitions around the world. They have proved so popular that many of the top dancers are internationally known and are household names. Their status has been reinforced by the popularity of television programs introducing celebrity dance competitions. Programs, such as Strictly Come Dancing, which has been televised since 2004 in the UK, have captured the public’s attention, as celebrities have been paired with international dancers and have tried to perform the dances.

The show has been exported to 40 other countries around the world. In the United Kingdom it is televised at the prime time on a Saturday evening and has viewing figures as high as any show in the country. In the December 2017 final the audience was over 13 million which was 55% of all of the viewers in the country.

Performance of tango in Boca, Buenos Aires

The success of the show has resulted in increasing interest in clubs where Latin dances are taught and performed. There are a number of different dances with a varying degree of difficulty. The dances are a mixture of European, Native American and African influences that have been combined when different ethnic groups have emerged together.

A great example of this is the Argentine Tango which emerged in the poorer neighborhoods of both Buenos Aires and Montevideo. These areas were home to the migrants entering South America from Europe, and with them they brought the tango.

However, over time this has been adapted due to the influence of the other ethnicities residing in these regions.  The dance is flexible with there being a few basic steps. However, with the inconsistent nature of the structure of the band playing the music, the performers have had to adapt to different tempos and situations that have arisen over time. The Salsa first appeared in the Caribbean. It is a mix of different dances that include the Puerto Rican Bomba, the Son Cubano, the Cha-Cha-Cha and the Mambo. The dance has distinctive regional styles around the world, but the common feature of the dance is its fast pace.

The Mambo in action

The main dance in Cuba is the Mambo. The dance has a number of quick steps and emerged in the 1940s as a result of the work by Perez Prado. Today the dance is popular not only in Cuba, but also in New York. However, the mambo in New York bears few similarities to the original dance, as the original dance contained no basic steps. The Americans have attempted to discipline the dance.

The Rumba is a dance that was created on the east coast of the United States during the 1930s. It is a mixture of the conga and the Son Cubano as well as big band music that were so dominant during this period. Coming from this part of the country there were plenty of Cubans who were able to appreciate the sounds that were giving them a feeling of home. The actual dance moves to a slow-quick-quick pattern. It is actually the slowest of the Latin dances with the rhythm from a dance called the bolero-son. The dance was featured in the 1935 film “Rumba”.

The Merengue originated in the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century. The partners hold each other close together and then dance around floor to the accompaniment of a guitar or even accordions. The reason why the dancers are so close is that the dance originated with the slaves who were working the fields. They would dance at the end of the working day, and, because their ankles would be chained together, they had to stay close one another.

There are many different varieties of Latin dance and is one of the reasons why it is so popular.