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Four New Dances

October 13, 2009

This week on Dancing With The Stars, the couples will be performing one of four new dances, either the Bolero, the Charleston, the Lambada or the Texas Two Step. This is in a similar vein to Season 7 when they introduced the Hustle, Salsa, West Coast Swing and Jitterbug.

I’m not greatly in favour of this, but that’s probably mostly because I don’t know the dances very well, and find it hard to know what to look out for in them, unlike the usual ballroom/latin. One thing I do like about this idea though, is that it gives everyone an idea of how hard it is to learn a completely new dance routine in a week, as these are not dances the professionals are usually performing. I think the standard generally is quite low, and the judges marks are based on the performance, and whether or not they like it, rather than any strict criteria, as they do not have experience in judging these dances.

The Bolero

For most of us in the UK, ‘Bolero’ means one thing. Torvill and Dean winning Olympic Gold at Sarajevo in 1984, after performing to Ravel’s Bolero and being awarded 12 perfect 6.0s, to date, the only time this has happened. If you are not as old as me, then you might know it from watching Dancing On Ice!

Turns out, though, that bolero is a proper dance, not just a very famous ice dance routine. Along with cha cha, rumba, east coast swing, and mambo, bolero is one of the five rhythm competition dances in American style ballroom dance competition, is a close cousin of the rumba, and is the slowest rhythm dance, at 96bpm. I’m not sure that will be evident in the DWtS dances, as traditional music is unlikely to feature highly. It is believed that the dance developed from Spanish folk dances such as the Beguine, and was introduced to the US in the 1930s, probably from Cuba. Mostly, these should look like rumbas, although a little slower, and uses figures such as cross body leads, open breaks, underarm turns, fifth position breaks and crossover breaks.

In this video, Strictly’s Kristina Rihanoff performs a bolero with Brian Jolly in 2003, and it does look much like a slow rumba.

The bolero will be performed by Natalie and Alec, and Michael and Anna this week.

The Charleston

The Charleston is quite well known, and developed in the US in the 1920s, during the prohibition era, in the speakeasys. Originally it was danced by the ‘flapper’ girls alone, and started with the feet remaining on the floor. The kicks which are so widely recognised now were added when the dance spread to Harlem.

The dance developed over the years, and eventually led to the Lindy Hop, and several variations of the Charleston, which can be danced alone, with a partner or in groups.

The Charleston will be performed by Kelly and Louis, Donny and Kym and Melissa Joan and Mark.

The Lambada

Until now, I thought this was a dance that was made up for the film. It is, however, a proper Brazilian dance, which has roots in the merengue, among others. It can be danced alone, with a partner or in a group, like the Charleston, but there seem to be very few set rules. It appears that this dance is often done barefoot, and if danced with a partner, the couple should remain in close contact throughout the dance.

Many of the moves are recognisable from the other Latin dances, and again, this seems to be quite a slow dance.

The Lambada will be performed by Joanna and Derek, Aaron and Karina and Mya and Dmitry.

The Texas Two Step

The Texas Two Step (or Two-Step, sometimes) is a fast, social dance. In competition, it must be danced at between 182 and 198 bpm, beginners would usually start at around 130, whilst accomplished dancers can managed over 200bpm! The two step is danced with a partner, but can be in either open, closed or shadow hold. It looks a lot like a swing dance to me, and most of the exhibition dances I’ve seen have featured a lot more than the basic three steps which comprise the dance – a quick step, a quick step and a slow step. It’s also the only dance I’ve seen so far where the girls all wore cowboy boots!

There’s also a Rhythm Two-Step, which is mostly confined to Arizona, and is danced on the same spot, without moving around the floor, and a Triple Two Step, which is a slower dance and is sometimes called a shuffle.

The Texas Two Step will be performed by Mark and Lacey and Louie and Chelsie. Tom and Cheryl would also have performed this, if they had not been forced to withdraw due to injury.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2009 10:23 am

    Do you think they’ll introduce new dances in the UK version? Would you like to see that?

    • October 14, 2009 4:18 pm

      Hi Christine – thanks for commenting, I do appreciate it!
      We have already added some, the American Smooth, which is a style rather than a specific dance, was added for series three, mostly so they could do lifts, and then the salsa and Argentine Tango were added in series four, as they had more couples, so needed more dances. We’ve usually gone down the route of having the alternative dances as groups – so there was a group swing and merengue in series 5, plus a rueda/rouada in series 6!

      I think Strictly is a lot more ‘pure’ than Dancing With The Stars – that is much more focused on the performance, and the glitz, and less on teaching how to dance. Plus a lot of the routines on DWtS are choreographed by outsiders, the dancers don’t do all the work, so while ours get help for the salsa and AT if they need it, if we were to bring in more dances, then they would need even more external help, as the professionals are just not familiar with the requirements. Overall, I think it’s better for Strictly the way it’s done at the moment, keep them as group dances, and stick with what everyone knows. Plus, if they introduce new dances, either the series gets longer, which will need more couples, or we lose some of the existing dances, which would be really unpopular with most of the viewers. I don’t really want the series to get longer, I like it now – it starts in Autumn, and it finishes at Christmas, and it’s just what I need to get through the madness of the kids going back to school and then the pre-Christmas chaos – it’s my little treat every week!

      Also, it appears that I know a lot more about this show than is probably good for me!

      • October 14, 2009 9:08 pm

        Plus, if they introduce new dances, either the series gets longer, which will need more couples, or we lose some of the existing dances, which would be really unpopular with most of the viewers.

        Ah, that’s a good point, I hadn’t thought of that.

        I would like to something like a Charlston or Lindy Hop though 🙂

      • October 14, 2009 9:35 pm

        I would like to something like a Charlston or Lindy Hop though

        The Charleston could be ok – I haven’t watched this week’s show yet, so I don’t know how good or bad they were, but the Lindy Hops last season were very similar to the jives and jitterbugs, and it’s difficult to tell them apart.

        Might be an idea for a group dance in Strictly, as if it’s well done, it can be a huge crowd pleaser as it typically has lots of big lifts in the exhibition style. It’d probably have to go nearer the middle of the show, rather than at the beginning though, so that we’ve got rid of a lot of the ‘less-good’ celebs!

        The show has been making good use of Shirley Ballas this year, and she was fantastic at the jive, one of the best ever, so she would be able to choreograph a group dance in this style, if they continue working with her, which I hope they do. Ok, I am actually quite liking the idea of that now……!

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