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The 5 Latin American dances in DanceSport competitions include the Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive. These spicy hot dances have diverse but unique origins, with steps and figures that are standardized into internationally agreed techniques, rhythms, and tempos.

Cha Cha
The Cha Cha has its origins in the religious ritual dances of West Africa and is related to the Mambo and Guajiro. Many believe that the name is derived from the sound of the feet in the chasse, which is included in many of the steps. It first gained popularity during the 1950s and was made popular by the live bands at the time including musicians like Tito Puente, Xavier Cugat, and Prez Prado. Much of today's popular music includes the Cha Cha rhythm, making the dance easily adaptable for the social dance club scene.

Samba
The Samba originated from Brazil around the 19th century when it was known as "Zemba Queca". It was first popularized by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their first film together, "Flying Down to Rio" and then Carmen Miranda, particularly the film, "That Night in Rio". During the 1950s, Princess Margaret played a leading role in popularizing the dance in British society during her flamboyant demonstrations of the dance at events.

Rumba
The Rumba originated from Cuba, where African slaves imported to the country introduced dances that emphasized movements of the body rather than feet. The rural form of the Rumba in Cuba was described as a pantomime of barnyard animals, and was an exhibition rather than a participation dance. It was introduced into the USA in the 1930s as a composite of this rural Rumba with the Guaracha, the Cuban Bolero. The British dance teacher Pierre Lavelle visited Havanna in 1947 and brought back to Britain many steps and rhythmic interpretations. The dance continues to be an audience favorite.

Paso Doble
The name "Paso Doble" in Spanish means "Two Step" and refers to the marching nature of the steps. The dance first became popular amongst the upper classes of Paris in the 1930s, with its dramatic and theatrical poses. The Paso Doble portrays a Bullfight with the man as the Torero and the woman, his cape.

Jive
The dance has an interesting history and has been called many different names. It was first performed competitively during the 1880s and known as the Cakewalk because the prize was frequently a cake. During the 1920s, dances such as the Foxtrot, Charleston, Black Bottom, and various other steps combined to form the Lindy Hop, named after Charles Lindbergh who made the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight that year, because of the amount of time the dancers appeared to spend in the air. In the 1930s, the dance at the Savoy in Harlem was described by Cab Calloway as like the frenzy of jittering bugs, so it soon became known as the Jitterbug. Now called the Jive, it is an energetic dance that is particularly popular with youths and young adults.


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