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Your First International Latin Class

Latin dancer in black sequins

Latin dance is flashy; there’s little question about that. Crowds are drawn in by the shiny costumes, yards of fringe, and rhythmic actions. The most effective of the perfect are hypnotizing of their capacity to make rhythm seen of their dancing, and the partnerships appear to have chemistry on a completely new degree. Virtually anybody who’s seen it carried out walks away with questions and curiosity.

For educated dancers, Latin presents greater than only a present. It may be a chance to broaden your dance horizons throughout summer time periods or discover a brand new side of your dance character. A part of the worldwide sector of ballroom, Latin is provocative and difficult. It’s an extremely fashionable competitors type, and it’s turning into extra widespread for casting administrators to search for ballroom or Latin coaching in up-and-coming dancers.

Should you’re contemplating taking a technical Latin course, you’re in for a unbelievable studying expertise. Whether or not you propose to carry out, compete, or simply take in information, you’ll be pushed to take your partnering to an entire new degree whereas studying a completely new option to transfer your physique. Taking that first step could be intimidating, although, so this text will tackle a number of the main questions dancers have earlier than they take their first technical Latin course.

Latin dancer in black sequins“Black sequins“> by Thomas Quine is licensed CC BY

Traits of the Dances

International Latin is made up of 5 dances: cha cha, samba, rumba, paso doble, and jive. Usually talking, the dances are characterised by the Latin movement within the hips, isolation within the torso, and the dancers straightening their legs earlier than transferring weight. Every dance has a barely totally different syncopation, and paso doble requires music with a singular phrasing sample.


  • Cha Cha is a flirty, fast-paced dance that emphasizes sharp actions and syncopation. Lock steps and examine steps are widespread in cha cha, and associate interplay is playful.
  • Samba is a extra rhythmic dance that’s carried out with a “bounce” by means of the legs and physique, although the dancer’s head peak will not often change. Whereas there are straight-legged parts, the bounce requires that dancers settle onto bent legs.
  • Rumba is usually often known as the dance of affection. It’s the slowest Latin dance and emphasizes stretching by way of actions, typically switching between quick and sluggish actions for distinction.
  • Paso Doble is the dance of the bullfighter. It’s carried out with a hips-forward posture and mimics the connection between a matador and the bull, or a matador and his cape.
  • Jive is just like swing dances and emphasizes turns, sharp actions, and its signature kicks. Historically the final of the 5 dances, the jive requires extremely excessive power.


Virtually each technical Latin class begins with the identical step: the rumba stroll. Whereas there are various totally different iterations of the motion, the rumba stroll encompasses most of the premises of Latin dance in a single easy (although not straightforward) step. From there, courses might department out relying on their intent. In a contest prep class, you’ll discover cha cha and rumba, as these are the entry degree dances at most competitions. Typically method courses, you’ll doubtless get instruction in cha cha and rumba, with both samba or jive added in relying on the instructor. It’s uncommon that paso doble is taught when there isn’t an intent to compete at a excessive degree.


Latin Vocabulary

Instructors are usually excellent about explaining terminology as they train, however typically, it’s good to get a head begin. Listed here are a number of widespread phrases present in Latin dance:

  • Lead: the companion chargeable for “directing” the dance and giving cues (conventionally the male companion).
  • Comply with: the companion executing on and sustaining the motion initiated by the lead (conventionally the feminine associate).
  • Determine: a standardized collection of steps that create a acknowledged sample or motion (for instance, an outdoor flip or a field step).
  • Syllabus: the record of acknowledged figures for every dance, divided by degree and problem.
  • Isolation:
  • Latin movement: a attribute motion sample of the hips that’s created through the use of flexion and extension of the foot and knee.

There’s definitely extra to a whole vocabulary than this, however every instructor operates in his or her personal “dialect” relying on area and who they educated with.


What to Put on

As with most dance courses, you don’t need your motion to be impeded when you’re studying and training. Latin courses not often have gown codes, although some conventional academics might require some kind of tights with a follow skirt that falls above the knee for ladies and Latin pants for males.

When you don’t need to put on formal apparel, runare applicable decisions for ladies. Males ought to search for full-length pants in a light-weight material with loads of motion in them; sure kinds of sweatpants or heat ups are additionally widespread. Shirts ought to be pretty fitted by way of the torso. Your teacher will need to see your isolation and rib cage motion as you’re studying.

Footwear ought to have a suede backside to permit motion alongside the dance flooring. For ladies, a standard Latin shoe is a strappy sandal with a 2.5 to three inch heel. Males have a closed-toe shoe with a 1.5 to 2 inch heel. When selecting a Latin shoe, it’s crucial that the only be very versatile. Latin dancers use the complete vary of movement within the foot, and with the ability to utterly level your foot with out the shoe impeding you is necessary for appropriately finishing strains.

There are various totally different types of footwear to select from, and the preliminary choice ought to be made based mostly on the form of your foot. As a result of there’s a lot selection out there, it’s greatest when you can go to a specialty store and check out a number of pairs on. Ordering on-line must be final resort, and even then, attempt to speak to somebody acquainted with the model and really feel of the footwear first. When you don’t have entry to Latin footwear, jazz footwear may fit for the primary few courses, offered they’ve a strong heel. You gained’t need to use a personality shoe due to the restricted vary of movement.


Latin dancer leans back“Lean back” by Thomas Quine is licensed CC BY

Coaching Ideas

The hip movement concerned in latin dance is usually completely overseas, however fortunately, different points of the dances might really feel astoundingly acquainted. To get probably the most out of your Latin schooling, you’ll be requested to mix acquainted actions with model new ideas to create dynamic, fascinating dances that help you join together with your associate in an entire new approach. Listed here are a number of ideas for fulfillment:

  1. Rumba walks are life. Critically. When you study rumba walks, you must by no means cease doing them. They embrace so many fundamentals of latin motion that working towards them every single day is probably the most environment friendly solution to get snug with introductory latin figures.
  2. Apply your turns. Latin dancers have a confounding capacity to execute a number of tight turns at a reasonably excessive velocity after which cease on a dime. Ask your teacher for a turning drill and apply it as a part of your heat up or on the finish of each session.
  3. Use your turnout. A part of what makes Latin dance so beautiful is the lengthy, straight leg-lines that help the rhythm within the higher physique. Turnout, in addition to foot rhythm and pressure by way of the adductors and glutes, are important to that presentation.
  4. Be self-sufficient. Latin is a partnered dance, however you’ve got a lot much less contact than you do in ballroom. Whereas your dancing ought to be elevated by your associate, there’s little or no you need to depend on them for. Be sure to apply your routines till you’ll be able to execute them by yourself — that means, you gained’t throw your associate off stability when shifting collectively.
  5. Take notes. Latin is totally different, and there’s rather a lot to soak up. Seize a pocket book to maintain in your bag and jot down figures, draw footage, and take method notes after every class. It doesn’t need to be in depth, simply sufficient to remind you of the lesson and the figures in case you overlook. It’s additionally a useful gizmo for maintaining monitor of questions that come up throughout follow.
  6. Study to argue productively. You’re going to be dancing with a associate, which suggests you’re going to disagree about issues. Many ballroom and Latin execs are literally married, which is sensible when you think about the kind of communication required between companions — it’s not that totally different from efficient communication with a big different. There are plenty of very private emotions to handle with one thing as artistic and private as dance. You want to have the ability to categorical your viewpoint, take heed to your associate’s, and never take confusion or criticism as an assault.
  7. Discover your character. Latin is filled with power and emotion; the whole lot from the flirty cha cha to the sensual rumba requires that you simply exude angle and confidence. As you’re studying, take note of what actions you take pleasure in most, what makes you are feeling highly effective or attractive, and domesticate that character. It will probably assist to observe execs carry out to get a really feel for a way Latin angle is communicated.
  8. Carry out. When you’ve acquired that angle, present it off! Latin has a singular impact on crowds, and everybody who tries Latin ought to get the prospect to really feel it. Even when it’s solely a flashmob, placed on the fringey gown or the flamboyant Latin shirt and rise up on stage! It’s a very fantastic expertise.


Alyssa Robinson is a lover of phrases and motion who fortunately resides within the Pacific Northwest. She began dancing at 19 when the ballroom (and Latin) bug bit her, and she or he hasn’t stopped since. If she’s not writing about meals, health, and dance, she’s within the studio coaching for her subsequent ballroom competitors.

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