Intro To Couples Dancing
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There are numerous dances which involve two partners moving together in sync around the dance floor. The most traditional type of couples dancing is ballroom dancing. Ballroom dancing is an all-emcompassing term which includes the Waltz, Cha-Cha, and the Fox Trot to name just a few. These different styles of dancing come from all over the world from different eras, and can be slightly modified to fit any dance style or music. They are the most popular formal partner dances and focus on smooth flow and classic elegance. Although each of these ballroom dances are very different in their style and grace, they are all based on basic steps which are fairly simple to master.
Box Step/ Waltz
The box step is the most basic step to learn in order to begin most couples dances. Aptly named, when dancing the box step, you will be moving your feet in the shape of a square in six movements. Both partners will begin with feet together, and will be mirroring each other's movements. The leader's right hand is placed on their partners waist, and the left hand out to the side at a slightly bent angle to hold their partners right hand. Both dancers will begin with a bit of open space between them. The follower will place their left hand on their partners right shoulder, with their right hand grasping the leader's open hand, also at a slightly bent angle. To create the first half of the box shape, the leader will begin with the left foot stepping forward, bringing the right leg up and stepping out to the right, followed by pulling the left foot to meet the right, feet together. For the second half of the box shape, the leader will step back with the right foot, pulling the left foot back and stepping to the left, bringing the right foot to meet the left to stand together. In simpler terms, the box step is danced forward-side-together, backwards-side-together and repeat. In turn, the follower will begin by stepping back with the right foot and continue in the box shape pattern. On each second and fourth step, the feet are intended to make a box shape instead of a diagonal pattern while dancing around the room, and each step is a full weight transfer.
Side Basic or Chasse Basic/ Cha Cha
The side basic, or chasse basic, is the dance step most commonly known as the Cha-Cha, and is danced to the beat of 2-3-cha-cha-cha. For this dance, the leader will begin my taking a rock step forward on the left. A rock step is a step taken while shifting full weight to that foot, but not picking up the trailing foot, followed by shifting weight back to the opposite (in this case the right) foot. In other words, the leader will make a small forward step with the left foot on the second beat of the music, then rocking back onto the right foot on the third beat. These beginning steps create the 2-3 beat of the Cha-Cha.
For the chasse (or cha-cha-cha) part of the beat, the leader will take a step forward, bring the trailing foot up together, putting full weight on the the foot that was just moved. The leader will then take a thrid step with the original (left) foot. In simpler terms, the move is left step-together- left step, with one foot catching up to the other every other step. If the leader begins with a step to the left, it is referred to as a chasse left, and will alternate to chasse right in the next steps, as well as a rock step back.
The foxtrot is another classic partner dance, with a simple slow-slow-quick-quick rhythm but has many variations, making it a great dance for all levels of couples. Beginning with both partners facing each other and in the traditional Box Step stance, the leader will walk forward with the left foot (slow), walk forward with the right foot (slow), side step with the left foot (quick), and step together bringing the right foot next to the left (quick). The follower in turn will begin on the opposite foot, but following the same basic pattern.
- Promenade: - The promenade is a dance move which allows the dancers to move sideways around the dancefloor, as the standard steps for the foxtrot without variation will always be the same move. Using this, and other variations, help avoid the dance partners from moving in a line diagonally across the room. During any part of traditional Foxtrot, the dancers will turn and face toward their outstretched hands, utilizing the same footwork, but as if the partners were walking temporarily side by side as strolling down a Promenade. The leader will turn their head and body to the left, with the follower turning and facing the right (while still grasping each other's hands) and continue with the two slow steps, then returning to face each other for the folowing two quick steps. The promenade does not have to be made perpetually, but it helps to add color and variation to the dance routine.
- Corner Step: - The corner step is another great addition to the Foxtrot as it allows couples to change directions easily and also help avoid obstacles out on the dance floor such as a table or perhaps another couple. Just as the Promenade step, the Corner step is intended to enhance the traditional steps of the foxtrot. The traditional Foxtrot has the dance partners taking 2 full slow steps, then 2 quick steps together. The corner step is similar, but instead of taking a full step, the leader will rock forward shifting weight onto the left foot for the first beat, returning the weight back to the right foot for the second beat, then stepping out to the left, with the right foot following togehter for the quick-quick. In essence, the move is step-rock-quick-quick.
These are just a few dances couples of any level can master. While these kinds of ballroom dances are the go-to for most couples learning or enhancing their dance skills, there are still many other kinds of exciting couples dances inculding Salsa, Tango, Two-Step, and Swing. Each type of dance and routine have limitless variations and combinations and the goal of any of these is to see which is best suited for the partners and how much they want to have fun with it. Couples dancing is a great way to build teamwork and trust, and serves as a great exercise...all while having a great time.