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Duet Dance Studio

2412 W North Ave., #201, Chicago, IL 60647

312.823.8199 | info@duetdancestudio.com

Send us a message to schedule a lesson or ask any questions. We look forward to getting to know you and dancing with you soon! 

 

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2412 West North Avenue, Suite 201
Chicago, IL, 60647
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312.823.8199

Duet Dance Studio Chicago offers ballroom dance lessons and wedding dance classes. We teach salsa, swing, tango and waltz dance lessons. Privately and in groups, for adults and kids.

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Get useful tips on ballroom dancing and wedding dance preparation and watch tutorial videos created by Szewai Lee, founder of Duet Dance Studio.

Filtering by Category: Ballroom Dancing

How to Waltz? Waltz Basics for Beginners with Video Tutorials

Szewai Lee

The Waltz is an elegant and graceful dance that is designed for large dance floors.  Because of the dance’s long, flowing movements, perpetual turns, and rise and fall technique, dancers appear to glide effortlessly through the space.  Waltz can be done to any music with a slow tempo in ¾ time.  Our favorite waltz songs include “Moon River” by Audrey Hepburn and “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones.  In this blog post, we will tell you the history, characteristics, music of Waltz and show you how to do the Waltz basics. Enjoy!

History

Although we think of Waltz as classy, the form was considered vulgar and immoral when first introduced to English ballrooms in the early 1800’s.  It was the first time anyone had seen a man holding a lady so close!  It started as a country folk dance in the suburbs of Austria and Bavaria.  While the upper class danced the minuet, bored aristocrats snuck away to their servants’ balls where they discovered the Waltz.  Shortly thereafter, the Waltz was introduced to the United States where the dance and music developed a slower tempo.

Characteristics

Waltz is a progressive dance style that travels and sways.  It is characterized by large, fluid movements and turns with a rise and fall technique. Waltz resembles Foxtrot in that it has a similar frame.  Foxtrot is done in an even time signature whereas waltz is done as a triplet.

Timing and Music

The time signature in Waltz is 3/4. The waltz basic can be counted as "1,2,3; 1,2,3".  Waltz can only be done to music in this time signature.  Check out our Waltz song list here!  The waltz that is common in the west is danced at approximately 90 beats per minute with 3 beats in each measure.  If a song is faster (around 180 beats a minute) then Viennese or a modified Waltz would be more appropriate.

Dance Hold

In Waltz, dancers maintain a wide and extended dance hold that helps them travel across the floor and navigate more efficiently.

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How to Waltz? Let's Start with the Basics!

The waltz box is the basic step in Waltz and it is a simple yet versatile step perfect for beginning dancers. Learn how to do the waltz box step in this tutorial video below. 

Once you've mastered the basic box step, you can move on to learn a beautiful Under Arm Turn!

What is favorite ballroom dance style? Please share!

Want to learn more Waltz? Check out our Online Dance Lessons now!


The Duet Team is a group of friendly dancers who are passionate about helping people and sharing the joy of ballroom dance. And we love to make new friends and have fun at work! Duet Dance Studio is located in Chicago West Bucktown. We offer ballroom dance lessonswedding dance instruction and private dance parties. Online Wedding Dance Lessons and Skype dance lessons are also available! Dances we teach include Salsa, Swing, Tango, Bachata, Merengue, Waltz and Foxtrot. Sign up for an introductory dance lesson now to get started!

5 Most Common Mistakes when Learning to Ballroom Dance

Szewai Lee

As a ballroom dance instructor, I’ve found that the most difficult thing for people to learn is to unlearn a bad habit. Changing the way we always do certain things takes time and effort. Whether you’re a seasoned ballroom dancer or learning your first box step, we all have some bad habits that we are trying to break. Below are 5 of the most common mistakes or bad habits that students make during dance lesson.

 Duet Dance Studio's students, Vianna and Peter, learning to dance for their wedding.    Photo by Jeff Callen

Duet Dance Studio's students, Vianna and Peter, learning to dance for their wedding.  

Photo by Jeff Callen

Looking Down

Many beginning ballroom dancers tend to look down at their feet, unsure of where they should move, and afraid to step on their partner. This can be a difficult habit to break. Looking down affects your posture, causing shoulders to hunch forward and weakens the dance frame. The goal of social dancing is to use your body to communicate everything to your partner--try to feel where your partner is moving in order to determine where to place your foot, rather than allowing your gaze to fall to the floor. A good way to practice looking up is picking a focal point that’s high up in the room, such as a clock, a window, or your partner’s smile! Your dancing will be much smoother, and you will be able to focus on your partner’s face, rather than their feet!

Weak Elbows (“Noodle Arms”)

The dance frame is the most important part of ballroom dancing. The frame is the main way leader and follower are able to communicate on the floor. Therefore, both partners need to maintain strength in their arms and backs. If dancers let their elbows lose tension, the lines of communication are broken and partners are unable to relay messages. A good exercise for this is to stand facing a wall. Lift your arms in front of you, place palms on the wall and lean forward slightly, shifting your weight toward the wall (almost as though you were doing a push up). This kind of strength and resistance will keep your frame strong and allow you to work with your partner more easily on the dance floor.

Raised Shoulders

A lot of us carry our tension, stress, or anxiety in our shoulders. While we dance, sometimes we start focusing so much on footwork, frame, looking up, etc, that the stress of it begins to show in our shoulders. It’s very common for shoulders to tighten and raise up toward the ears, creating a very scrunched upper body. If this happens, take a moment to breathe and relax, rolling the shoulders back and down. Imagine squeezing a baseball between your shoulder blades, which then turn into butter and melt down your back. This opens up your chest and creates a nice, long neck. In dance, we always want to lengthen! You’ll immediately look more confident and poised.

Big Steps

This is a hard habit to break, especially if you have long legs! Often, beginning dancers take very wide steps. This makes dancing difficult because it can throw you off balance and cause you to move too slowly with the rhythm of a song. Plus, if you step too far it can be hard for your partner to keep up, or you may step on their toes (ouch!). Try keeping steps a bit smaller until you feel really comfortable with the tempo and your partner is able to match you step-by-step. Their legs (and toes) will thank you for it!

Getting Frustrated

Sometimes during a dance lesson, it’s easy to get caught up in perfecting each step--repeating it multiple times trying to nail it. However, some steps are complicated and troublesome to learn. When you encounter these figures, it’s natural to feel frustrated. Many dancers “hit a wall” when they’re unable to improve a step or don’t catch on quickly. When this happens, rather than continuing to drill the step, it can be more helpful to stop and take a break for a few minutes. Have a drink of water, grab a snack, and sit down for a second. Then return to the dance floor with a clearer, calmer mind and try again. You might find the step easier than it was before!



What is your bad habit when learning to dance? And how do you break that? Please comment below.

 

This post was written by Duet instructor, Grace Lethiot.


The Duet Team is a group of friendly dancers who are passionate about helping people and sharing the joy of ballroom dance. And we love to make new friends and have fun at work! Duet Dance Studio is located in Chicago West Bucktown. We offer ballroom dance lessonswedding dance instruction and private dance parties. Online Wedding Dance Lessons and Skype dance lessons are also available! Dances we teach include Salsa, Swing, Tango, Bachata, Merengue, Waltz and Foxtrot. Sign up for an introductory dance lesson now to get started!

What is Tango? What are the differences between Argentine and American Tango?

Szewai Lee

Odds are if you have ever watched a show like Dancing With the Stars, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of the exciting and dramatic ballroom style famously known as Tango. Originally, however, the tango dance was much more intimate and personal for the two partners who were dancing it. This focus on sensuality is retained in the modern Argentine tango but phased out from other adaptations as the style spread throughout the world in the early 1900s. Today tango has grown to become one of the most recognizable styles of ballroom dance, yet it can be confusing to tell the difference between Argentine tango and American tango unless you know what to keep an eye out for.

What is Argentine Tango?

Origin: Back in the late 1800’s, Buenos Aires became a hotspot for many new immigrants from Europe and Africa who settled in the city but found themselves depressed from loneliness, without a real outlet for entertainment. They began congregating at bars and as time moved forward, their different cultures mixed with the local Latin music and produced a new style of music dubbed “Tango”. Naturally, a new social dance developed from this exciting musical blend! The first dances were usually inspired by the sexual tension between pimp and prostitute and thus included very emotional and suggestive undertones. Hard times also introduced a sense of longing into the dance and sensuality continued to be a key component.

Music: The Argentine style music tends to be very melodic and romantic compared to what one would normally consider to be tango music. The primary instrument used is called a bandoneon, a German instrument similar to an accordion. In contrast to other styles of tango, the music almost never makes use of drums or has a heavy downbeat. Played in a 4/4 time signature, dancers are usually able to count the music in 8’s. The songs generally tend to be more romantic as well.

Steps: The basic step in this style is known as the 8-step that takes 8 full counts to complete. Unlike most other dance styles, the leader begins with the right foot and takes the first step backwards. This basic has many fancy variations in which the follower can travel around the leader and insert some intricate footwork before the basic is completed. The frame is also very different from other dance forms in that the dancers rest their heads together and the leader has a tighter embrace around the follower with the left arm, in what is referred to as a “close embrace”.

Characteristics: Sensual, intimate, complex, personal, indefinite

What is American Tango?

Origin: Tango first made its way to Europe around the turn of the 20th century where is was adopted by the the upper class and began to take on new influences. The style was first introduced to the American public thanks to the 1920’s film “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse”. It then mixed with other popular social dance styles and drew on some Hollywood-inspired theatrics. The dance became a big hit in the social setting and developed a very simplistic, codified moveset. The style evolved to highlight all the drama which allowed much more open positions and distinctive body lines. It is now a hugely popular ballroom style in the country, both recreationally and competitively.

Music: Very specific music types are usable for the tango style and are in a 4/4 meter. Since tango movements are usually very smooth and fluid, interrupted only by sharp, sudden motions, the music is kept at a medium tempo and is usually very dramatic. The American style music is more flexible than the Argentine style and the International Style in its inclusion of percussive downbeats mixed with other instrumentation. And of course, the more dramatic, the better!

Steps: Most can identify American tango steps by the acronym of the word itself, with each letter representing a specific movement within the 5-step basic. The “T” and “A” are the first two slow steps done by the couple. The remaining “N’, “G” and “O” are the steps that when combined are known as the “tango close”. This is the defining movement in the American tango and is timed with a quick, quick, slow action. The final slow in the basic is an unweighted slide back into the starting position. Even the frame is stylized to be a bit more dramatic, with the follower leaning back and looking to the side in profile. This “open embrace” maintains a spacial separation between the partners similarly to the other ballroom styles while the legs are almost always connected at the thighs.

Characteristics: Dramatic, shaped, simplified, performance-oriented, codified

What is your favorite style of Tango? And why? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. 

If you enjoy this post, you may also like "Differences between Salsa, Bachata, Cha Cha and Merengue."

 

This post is written by Duet instructor, Brennen Renteria


The Duet Team is a group of friendly dancers who are passionate about helping people and sharing the joy of ballroom dance. And we love to make new friends and have fun at work! Duet Dance Studio is located in Chicago West Bucktown. We offer ballroom dance lessonswedding dance instruction and private dance parties. Online Wedding Dance Lessons and Skype dance lessons are also available! Dances we teach include Salsa, Swing, Tango, Bachata, Merengue, Waltz and Foxtrot. Sign up for an introductory dance lesson now to get started!