Latin American

Learn more about our Latin American Dance Classes

Cha Cha Cha

The Cha-cha-cha is the name of a dance of cuban origin. The dance does not start on the first beat of a bar, although it can start with a transfer of weight to the man’s right foot and lady’s left. This cha cha cha is syncopated on the fourth beat therefore, count is “two, three, cha-cha-cha” or “four-and-one, two, three”.

The music for the cha-cha-cha is energetic, with a steady beat and can be made to look very cheeky. Latin hip movement is achieved through the alternate bending and straightening action of the knees, and therefore, in general, steps are kept compact.

Cha-cha-cha is one of the five dances of the “Latin American” program of international ballroom competitions.


Jive is a dance style in 4/4 time that originated in the United States from African/American in the early 1930’s. In competition it is danced at a speed of approx. 40-44 bars per minute.

English instructors developed the elegant and lively ballroom Jive, danced to slightly slower music. In 1968 it was adopted as the fifth Latin dance in international competitions. The modern form of ballroom jive in the 1990’s-present, is a very happy and boppy dance, lifting of knees and the bending or rocking of the hips often occurs.

The basic step (Jive Basic) is a six beat pattern, comprising eight weight changes.


The Rumba is a dance that tells a story of love and passion between a strong, male lover and a coy, teasing woman. Full of sensual movements, the Rumba is considered by many to be the sexiest of the ballroom dances. This dance of love is one of the most popular ballroom dances and is seen around the world at nightclubs, parties, weddings and dance competitions.

The Rumba is a very slow, serious, romantic dance with flirtation between the partners. The dance is fun to watch, as many of its basic dance figures of the dance have a teasing theme in which the lady flirts with and then rejects her male partner, often with apparent sexual aggression. The Rumba spotlights the lady’s rhythmic body movements and hip actions resulting in intense, almost steamy, scenes of passion.

The distinctive hip movement is a very important element of the Rumba, These hip movements and characteristic sways of the Rumba are generated by the bending and straightening of the knees. The intensity of the Rumba is increased by sharp eye contact that is maintained between the man and the woman. The stillness of the upper body, while adding dramatic intensity, also emphasizes the strong, sensuous leg and foot movements.

Rumba music is written in 4/4 time. One full step is completed in two measures of music. The music tempo is usually about 25-27 bars per minute.


Among the Latin American dances, samba is a lively and rhythmical one. The ballroom Latin samba is danced to music in 2/4 or 4/4 time and is a partner dance. It uses several different rhythmic patterns in its figures, with cross-rhythms being a common feature.

Most steps are danced with a slight downward bouncing or dropping action. This action is created through the bending and straightening of the knees, with bending occurring on the beats of 1 and 2 and the straightening occurring between.

Paso Doble

The Paso Doble is a theatrical Spanish dance modelled after the drama of the Spanish bullfight. Traditionally, the man is characterized as the matador (bullfighter) and the lady as his cape. The Paso Doble is both arrogant and passionate. The Paso Doble is performed more as a competition dance than as a social dance.

One of the most dramatic of all the Latin dances, the Paso Doble is a progressive dance. In the Paso Doble, dancers take strong steps forward with the heels, and incorporate artistic hand movements. All moves of the Paso Doble Dance should be sharp and quick, with the chest and head held high to represent arrogance and dignity.

Paso Doble Dance has strong, bold inspiring music and a simple 1-2-1-2 march rhythm, with very few rhythm changes. The tempo of Paso Doble Dance music is usually 60 bars per minute.