Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

MUSICAL NOTATION FOR BALLROOM DANCES


When I first started dancing I heard information from one source and then something conflicting from another source. I immediately decided that one had to be wrong. I later discovered that both were right (just different). The same is true with the timing of the dances. I will try to point out these differences as we proceed. The following are the rhythms that I use to teach the various American Style dances (except Quickstep and Vienesse Waltz - International Style). I hope this helps straighten out the sometime confusing world of timing.

The following musical symbol definitions will be used to define the rhythms:

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Ballroom Two Step, Bolero, Foxtrot, and Rumba use the Fig.1 timing. There are also some dance studios and instructors that teach Rumba with a Q,Q,S timing (Fig.9).

Cha Cha (Fig.2) can also be taught starting on the "2" beat. No matter when it starts, the break step is still on "2".

East Coast Swing Single step timing is S,S,Q,Q (Fig.6). Double step timing is touch,step,touch,step,rock step (Fig 3). Triple step timing is Trip,le,one, trip,le,two,rock step (Fig 4). Lindy timing is Trip,le,one,step,step,trip,le,two,rock step (Fig 5). ECS is sometimes taught with Jive timing starting with the break step (Fig.13).

Beginning to intermediate Foxtrot is usually taught using 6 counts (Fig.6), then progresses to the box timing (Fig.1).

In Mambo (Fig.7) you hold the 1st beat at the start, then the 1 beat gets added to the 4 beat from there on. The tied quarter notes are treated as a single half note (The "tie" is used because the 2 beats cross a measure boundary).

Quickstep (Fig.8) has a variety of timings but the S,Q,Q,S is probably the most common (started with the right foot).

There are many types of Salsa (Cuban, Miami, New York, LA, etc.) I use the Q,Q,S timing (Fig.9). Break on "2" Salsa uses the Mambo timing (Fig.7).

Samba Timing is unique because of the "a", 1/4 beat rhythm (Fig.10). Tango (Fig.11) is typically phrased in multiple of 8 beats.

Viennese Waltz and Waltz use the Q,Q,Q timing (Fig.12). There is a Hesitation Waltz taught that each step uses 3 beats.

West Coast Swing has both 6 count (Fig.13) and 8 count patterns (Fig.14).

Night Club Two Step (Fig.15) is often confused with Ballroom Two Step (Fig.1). They are based on the same foundation but have a very different feeling. In addition to their timing being different, NCT has a compact choppy feeling and BTS has a large, smooth and gliding feeling.

FIGURES FOR MUSIC NOTATIONS

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