American Rhythm and International Latin

Latin Dance Lessons in Portland OR and Vancouver WA
We teach a wide selection of latin dance classes at several Arthur Murray dance studio locations in Portland, Beaverton, Clackamas OR, and Vancouver, WA.

A variety of dances fall under the latin dance heading. For competitive dancing, the Latin dance styles are grouped into two main categories: American Rhythm and International Latin. When comparing the two styles, the most obvious difference is that they each have some unique dances. All the dances in each style do differ from their counterparts in subtle ways, mostly having to do with technique. You will find competitive events in each style. The following dances are categorized as International Latin or American Rhythm.


Learning the Rumba is a prerequisite for good Latin dancing. The Cuban Motion is essential in most Latin dances. The Rumba is used by good dancers everywhere and provides interesting variety suited to a limited space. Neat, attractive, precise footwork gives you confidence in your dancing. The Rumba will sharpen your sense of rhythm, timing, and muscular control.


The Cha-Cha adds fun to your dancing through its syncopated steps and many open movements. When you can dance many interesting combinations with ease, you and your partner will be able to feel the pulsating Latin rhythms which make this dance so fascinating. The energetic rhythm of the Cha-Cha encourages you to cut loose and let your personality show.

West Coast Swing

The Swing is a spot dance with a carefree relaxed style and is a dance easily mastered by most people. The various speeds are excellent training for quick footwork and good leading & following which will add comfort and ease in other rhythm dances. After mastering the patterns, both men and women will find Swing a fun and exciting dance to learn and practice. Perhaps the most uniquely American of all dances, the Swing brings forth a buoyant carefree movement.


Jive is an international competitive Swing dance with elements of the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug. Jive is characterized by up-tempo single-time music and is danced with triple steps which are done primarily on the toes with very lively movement.


Samba improves the flexibility of the body and helps achieve ease of movement. The Samba’s rolling action teaches the body to be supple. The ability to move lightly, quickly, and smoothly without effort takes study but only at the start. Although considered a good exercise, Samba should be danced smoothly and in a relaxed manner giving the appearance of effortless movement. Sometimes called the South American Waltz, the Samba pulsates to a unique Latin rhythm.


Mambo is a fusion of Cuban and American dancing. The music is characterized by a stirring Afro-Cuban beat. Mambo is an exciting dance which allows you to develop your own feeling and expression. Because Mambo is such a fun dance, good Mambo dancers are always popular and in demand as partners. The wild exciting music and rhythmical body movements make the earthy Mambo irresistible.


The Salsa is a popular Latin nightclub dance that evolved as a modified form of Mambo. Salsa works on the basis of Mambo – a pattern of six steps danced over eight counts of music–and came about when dancers started mixing up Mambo with Hustle steps. Young people worldwide jam Latin clubs pulsating to today’s hot Salsa rhythms. Salsa dancing is characterized by fancy footwork, intricate arm styling, and exciting turns and spins.


If Rumba is the courtship dance then Bolero is the dance of mature love and devotion. With its elegant rise and fall and classy long sweeping movements, this dance is mature and passionate. Close body holds, dips and picture lines even in the basic, make it a challenging dance with a great pay off. Learning bolero teaches control above all else. Dancing to the slowest music of all the dances also invites tempo changes and syncopations. Arm movements for both the man and lady are also crucial to making this dance look right. Rise and fall will help all dances as well as the twisting action used in dances like tango.


Pasodoble is based on music played at bullfights during the bullfighters’ entrance (paseo) or during the passes (faena) just before the kill. The leader of this dance plays the part of the matador. The follower generally plays the part of the matador’s cape, but can also represent the bull or a flamenco dancer in some figures. Its origin dates back to a French military march with the name “Paso Redoble.” This was a fast paced march, which is why this is a fast-paced Latin American dance modeled after the Spanish bull fight. Bull fighting was well-known around this time.

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