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Cha Cha
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Fox Trot
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Central Florida Orlando Ballroom dance lessons


" Dance is the hidden language of the soul."
- Martha Graham (1893 - 1991)




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Gunn Seawell dance classes Central FloridaAbout the Dances


Bolero was a Spanish dance during the 1700s, and it became popular in the United States in the 1930s. Round dancing picked up this rhythm in the 1990s. Bolero is characterized by a closer hold, and by one of the slowest tempos in dancing.

A key feature of bolero is a heaviness and a connection between the partners. You have a tone that connects you to your partner, and each helps the other take each step. There is a dragging kind of feel and a consequent smooth flow.

Examples of Bolero dance songs: Smooth Operator, Wind Beneath My Wings, You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling



Along with the rumba and mambo, the cha cha developed in Haiti and in Cuba and migrated to the United States in the 1950s. These rhythms are closely related.

The cha cha is a popular Latin rhythm that is danced with a loose hold and with smooth, flowing movements. The tempo of cha cha is about the same as that of rumba, but we are fitting five steps into a measure instead of only three in rumba, so cha cha feels a good bit faster.

Examples of Cha Cha dance songs: La Bamba, Never on Sunday, Pretty Woman

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In the early days of the Twentieth Century, during the Ragtime Era, a whole flock of "animal dances" were briefly popular, formed out of the earlier two-step. There was the Squirrel, in which dancers assumed closed position and took small, mincing steps. The Duck Waddle involved quick walks swaying the upper body left and right. There was the Lame Duck, the Chicken Scratch, the Kangaroo Hop, a Horse Canter, and a Horse Trot. And of course, there was the Fox Trot.

One story tells of Harry Fox, a burlesque comic, who worked on a stage scattered with scantily clad women in static poses. His act involved a fast, comical dance to 4/4 ragtime music from one woman to the next where he would deliver his jokes. The act was popular, the music was widely marketed, and Fox's "Trot" became popular in dance halls and dance studios.

In these earliest days, the Fox Trot was not the smooth: slow, quick, quick, of today (which if you think about it, is nothing like a "trot"). By 1916, the Fox Trot had evolved into a much slower, more elegant, floating kind of dance. It used long passing steps that kept the dancer up, stretched, and extended.

During the Jazz Age of the 20s, the Fox-trot was sped up again. It acquired some of the jazzy hops and skips of the Charleston and became our present-day Quickstep. Of course, it didn't replace the slow Fox-trot, but joined it, a close cousin. The slow, elegant, gliding Fox-trot is a rich and sophisticated rhythm and is one of the most popular dances ever.

Examples of Fox Trot dance songs: I Left My Heart In San Francisco, Mack the Knife, Stardust

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Rumba originated in Cuba more than four hundred years ago as a fast and erotic dance that left little to the imagination.

The rumba came to the U.S. around 1913. In the 1920s, it was slowed down by the big dancers of the time, Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire. Today, rumba is a slow, Latin rhythm that is danced with smooth, flowing movements. Keep your feet close to the floor as though you are sliding or gliding. Rumba is a level dance, with little rise and fall.

In the early days in the United States, the rumba was danced "quick, quick, slow." The International Ballroom community and Round Dancing still use this beat rhythm. However, American studios gradually changed to a "slow, quick, quick" rhythm, and you will find this altered rhythm at some freestyle ballroom events.

Examples of Rumba dance songs: Begin the Beguine, Besame Mucho, Black Magic Woman, Brown-Eyed Girl, Save the Last Dance for Me, Spanish Eyes

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East Coast Swing

Swing, also known as East Coast Swing or Jitterbug, is derived from Lindy. Often people start with Swing and then progress to Lindy. Both dances can be danced to the same music.

The Lindy began with the birth of Swing music in the mid to late '20s. The dance evolved from the Charleston in the ballrooms of Harlem before sweeping across the US and Europe. Characterized by a carefree, relaxed style, Swing soon came to represent a whole generation and time, when Big Band music was popular and musicians were judged by how well their music could swing. As it spread it became known by many names including Jitterbug and Jive. Over the decades that followed, Lindy evolved into many other Swing dance styles including West Coast Swing, Hand Dance and Swing. Lindy itself has also evolved and today it is danced to a great variety of music, including Big Band, Jazz, Blues and Rock 'n' Roll, and to a wide range of tempos.

Examples of Swing dance songs: All Shook Up, Party Doll, Great Balls of Fire

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Tango originated in Argentina during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and of course this was the Argentine Tango, a Latin rhythm. It reached Paris ballrooms in 1909 and quickly became popular in England and in America prior to World War I. Rudolph Valentino danced the tango in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in 1921, and millions swooned.

International Tango is so changed from its origins that it is considered a Smooth or Standard rhythm, rather than Latin.

Examples of Tango dance songs: La Paloma, Blue Tango

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Two Step

The two-step grew out of the nineteenth century gallop, a social dance characterized by a variety of skipping and hopping steps, and became popular in the US toward the end of the 1800s and in the early 1900s. The patriotic music of John Phillip Sousa provided some of the stimulus for its development.

Examples of Two Step dance songs: Looking for Love

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The origins of the Waltz go back hundreds of years. The rhythm came to Vienna in the early 1800s, and the Viennese Waltz was first exhibited in America in 1834 in Boston. Especially at the beginning of the 20th century the slower Modern Waltz, danced at about half the original tempo, developed along with the Viennese Waltz. The Modern Waltz is smoother, less frantic, and more varied.

Examples of Waltz dance songs: Could I have this Dance, Tennessee Waltz, Blue Danube

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Gunn Seawell dance classes Central Florida
Please be sure to bring soft-soled dance shoes or clean dry sneakers
(smoother soles have less traction and are better, allowing for easy turning).
No hard soled, or black rubber soled shoes that leave marks.


Photo Gallery and Cruise News

Gunn and Don were teaching on the
Pacific Princess cruise from Dubai

Gunn and Don taught aboard a Silver Whisper cruise
between Ft. Lauderdale and Rio

Gunn Seawell
Phone 407-699-9886

Email: dance@gunnseawell.com

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