The world of Latin dance is very rich and filled with an abundance of different styles. Some are localised and others have become part of national cultures. Several Latin dance styles have managed to become popular all over the world. They transcend national borders and are shared by fans of dance everywhere. Here are some of the biggest forms of Latin dance:
Salsa in its modern form was first developed during the 1940s. However, it has elements that go back even further. This dance is heavily influenced by the traditions and cultures of Afro-Cubans. It combines several popular styles including the mambo, danzon and guaguanco.
The history of salsa is one of assimilation. Different groups of Latin people moved to different locations where they brought their own styles with them and merged with new found ones. There are numerous specific forms of salsa which are influenced by the cities that they were developed in. Examples of this include New York, Los Angeles, Cumbia, Rueda de Casino, Vancouver, Toronto and even London salsa styles.
Mambo is another Latin dance with roots that can be traced back to 1940s Cuba. At the time Mambo was a very well known music genre and people began to create new types of dance around it. It would soon take the Latin American world by storm.
The word Mambo is actually the name of a god of war. In centuries past the Cubans would worship him by performing ritual dances. In terms of choreography the mambo is fairly similar to the rumba and cha-cha. The main difference is that the mambo has a greater level of freedom to express emotions. The rhythms also tend to be more bombastic.
This style has a very rich and colourful history. Not only is the Samba fun, it is also accessible enough to be enjoyed by dancers with mobility issues. This is why it can often be seen during carnival celebrations. It is one of the most dominant dance styles used by entertainers during the Rio Carnival. The Ballroom Samba is very different to most other styles. It is recognised as one of the five main international Latin dancing styles for partners.
Rumba is recognisable for the sultry movements that the dancers perform. It is often considered the most sensuous of all the Latin dance styles. Rumba was influenced by ancient tribal dances and throughout the centuries evolved into its present form. It is most popular in the nation of Cuba. During the 1920s there was a rumba boom in the United States. This helped to lay the groundwork for later Latin dances to develop.
This was originally called Cha-Cha-Cha and was an upbeat flirtatious style of partner dance. Over the years the name has been shortened to Cha-Cha. It originated in Havana and visitors to this area helped to spread it around the world.
The dance is fast paced and flamboyant, making it have a very broad appeal. The more authentic forms of Cha-Cha are very sensual in nature, with teasing choreography. Cha-Cha is regularly cited as one of the most fun forms of Cuban dance in the world.
Jive was invented by the African American community during the first half of the 20th century. It is a form of swing that incorporates fast and free movements. The modern incarnation of jive has differed greatly from swing, but retains much of the same choreography, shapes and movements. Jive is often performed during ballroom dance competitions. It has been recognised as one of the main Latin American dance styles and is known for the speed and technical skills required by its performers.