ballroom dancer paul karmiryan guiding a female dancer into a bevel pose

5 Most Popular Ballroom Dance Steps — And How to Do Them

If you’re interested in jumping into Latin Ballroom dancing styles but you don’t know where to begin, you’ve come to the right place! We joined So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars pro Paul Karmiryan for a quick breakdown of the 5 most popular steps of the International Latin Ballroom styles. Learn how to perform a fierce paso doble, find elegance in the smooth rhumba, and have fun with every move in between!

Cha-Cha

Perhaps the most well known of these styles, the Cha-Cha originated in Cuba and features fun, sharp footwork.

Swivel your hips as you move from side to side in small chasse steps, continuously bringing your moving foot to a bevel position. Pause in a check position while stepping to the front and extending your front leg while stepping back.

Lacey Schwimmer’s Beginner Cha-Cha Course

Samba

The party dance of the 5 Latin ballroom styles! Once you nail this one you won’t want to stop.

Start by bringing your knees together and around to the side as you shift your weight from your right to your left before shooting your leg back. Find the bounce while collecting your legs in the center and moving to the opposite side!

Want to dive deeper into Samba? Check out Lacey Schwimmer’s Beginner Samba Course on CLI Studios! You’ll start with an overview of basic samba techniques like hip circles, knee circles, weight transfers, and arm placement, and then learn a syllabus of terminology and steps like batucadas, the whisk, botafogos, and more! Put all of the moves you learned together with a spicy combo at the end of the course that will put your samba skills to the test.

Rhumba

Get into a groove with this slow and hip-focused dance!

Transfer your weight from leg to leg as you roll your hips in a figure 8 motion, collecting your leg in a bevel position in between sides. Focus on moving your entire body smoothly. Move your arms freely from side to side and feel the rhythm as you glide around the dance floor.

Paso Doble

This dance is full of passion and is inspired by the movements of matadors in a bullfight!

Move your arms in a sweeping motion as you take 4 steps in place. Shoot your hands forward, bending through your legs before extending your body up on your toes. Next, shift your weight from side to side with a step crossing in front of you.

The Jive

This dance is a non-stop good time—and will have you breaking out into a good sweat after just a few minutes of dancing!

Alternate kicking each leg forward before transferring your weight from back to front and chugging it to the side with a little hopping motion.

You can check out all of Paul’s combination-based classes in our on-demand library to learn Latin Ballroom Fundamentals, explore Latin Fusion styles, and master his choreography! For an even deeper dive into ballroom basics, try Allison Holker’s 5-part series, Ballroom Basics.

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