Trends in Rhythm and Latin
By the Expert
I would first like to say thank you to all who submitted questions. No inquiry is unimportant, so keep them coming!
Hello! I was really excited to see your article in Sheer Dance last month. Since you were so kind to mention it in your introductory article, what is trendy in choreography in rhythm and Latin these days? Why is that the case?
I would love to dive into this topic, so let’s start with rhythm. The battle between international influence and American style rages on! I would have to say that the perfect balance is still leaning towards cleaner leg lines while retaining the American rhythm style (e.g. more body rhythm, landing on a flexed leg, etc.). Many couples produce speed and clean lines through straighter leg action, but this loses the American look and feel, especially in dances like mambo and bolero. In judging an open-level event recently, this was very apparent. The current trend in both interpretations of American rhythm is for the choreography to project everything outward toward the audience and judges, which sets it apart from what’s popular in Latin right now.
To get an inside perspective on Latin, I consulted with Ron Montez, a professional ballroom dance champion and choreographer who won the professional Latin division of the United States Dance Championships from 1979 to 1985. He also hosted Championship Ballroom Dancing and America’s Dance Challenge on PBS.
Ron says of international Latin, “It appears as though the dancing today is highly based on speed and the compactness that goes with it. At the same time, the volume in the creation of lines is still a priority. These two highly developed areas are definitely the trend.”
One more note pertaining to the trend in style: I have often witnessed the effect outside popular dances or trends can have on ballroom dancing, and these trends seem to assert themselves through trial and error. The popularity of a move or look, if well done, can have a strong impact on ballroom dancing for years, while other things seem to fade as quickly as they arrive. For example, I remember when it was popular to yell, “Zaa!” in tango every time you did a promenade; this did not last long, due to the fact that the dance floor sounded like a herd of camels.
We have quite a few more questions in the queue, and I promise to answer all of them along with the help of fellow champions in the June issue of Sheer Dance.
“Dancing with the feet is one thing. Dancing with the heart is another.”
-- Author unknown