The Ballroom Dance Company

Ballroom Dance Instruction for Singles and Couples

Ballroom Dance Lessons and Classes in Portland Oregon


Class Calendar

Lesson Info


Gift Certificates

Photo Gallery

Contact Us


International Style Ballroom Dances

Standard Latin
Waltz Cha-Cha
Tango Samba
Viennese Waltz Rumba
Foxtrot Paso Doble
Quickstep Jive

International Standard Dance Descriptions

International Waltz

Waltz is danced to music with three beats to the bar. This means that if a step is taken on each beat, then each bar starts with the opposite foot to that of the previous bar. This can be a source of great difficulty for the beginner, but when mastered gives the dance a beautifully romantic lilt. Examples of Waltz music include Moon River(Andy Williams), Wonderful World of the Young(Various Artists), Unbelievable(Nat King Cole).

International Tango

Tango evolved from the Argentine Tango popular in the early 20th century. While the Argentine Tango was and is very soft private dance, with visual emphasis on the leg movements... This character changed dramatically in Paris in the 1930's, where the dance was combined with the proud torso of the other ballroom dances, and given a staccato action. This moved the visual emphasis to the torso and head, a characteristic which remains to this day.

International Style Viennese Waltz

Viennese Waltz is a fast (180 beats per minute), simplified version of the waltz. In 1754 the first music for the actual "Waltzen" appeared in Germany. The word Waltz means "to revolve." As the name infers, the partners revolve around each other as they traverse the floor. This dance became hugely popular in Vienna in the early 1800's, from which it spread to England and later the Americas. It is consequently known today as the "Viennese Waltz." Examples of Viennese Waltz music include When Irish Eyes Are Smiling(Frank Patterson), Piano Man(Billy Joel), Chim Chimeree(Ray Conniff).

International Foxtrot

Foxtrot is danced to a slow-quick-quick rhythm to 4/4 time music. Social Foxtrots travel well across a large floor. The music is usually upbeat with an easy beat to follow, epitomized by Big Band music from the '40s. Examples of music you can dance Foxtrot to include It Had To Be You(Harry Connick Jr.), Singing In The Rain(Doris Day), Dream A Little Dream(Mamas and the Papas), I Want to be Loved by You(Sinead O'Connor). Performance-level foxtrots are characterized by smooth gliding movements.


Quickstep evolved when live bands in the 1920's played slow Foxtrot music too fast, and couples on the floor could not step fast enough to keep up with the music. It retains the walks, runs, chasses, and turns of the original Foxtrot, but incorporates athletic elements such as locks, hops, skips, and kicks. Quickstep is not played often at social dances in Portland, though you can often do Quickstep to Jive or Single Swing music. In this case dance floor etiquette calls for "Quicksteppers" to dance around the outer edges of the floor, while "Swingers" stick to the middle of the dance floor. Music you can Quickstep to includes Sing Sing Sing(Various Artists), It Don't Mean A Thing(Herman Brood), Puttin On The Ritz(Liza Minelli).

International Latin Dance Descriptions

International Cha-Cha

Cha-Cha is becoming more popular for wedding dance music reflecting our society's current fascination and romance with Latin culture. When the English dance teacher Pierre Lavelle visited Cuba in 1952, he realized that sometimes the Rumba was danced with extra beats. When he returned to Britain, he started teaching these steps as a separate dance called the Cha-Cha. We recommend all newcomers take the time to learn the Cha-Cha, as this dance is popular at social dances. Examples of Cha-Cha music you can dance to include Someday(Sugar Ray), All I Want To Do(Sheryl Crow), Lady Marmalade(Christina Aguilera), Let's Get Loud(J-Lo).


Samba has figures with very different rhythms, like the Boto Fogo is danced to a "1 & a 2" quarter beat rhythm, whereas the Natural Rolls are danced to the simpler "1 2 &" half beat rhythm. It still retains a hip movement on the half beats between steps (the "Samba Tic"), a flat carriage of the torso, and is danced with the weight forward, substantially on the big toes. Examples of Samba music you can dance to include Bailamos(Julio Eglasias) and Shake Your Bon Bon(Ricky Martin).

International Rumba

Rumba's rural form in Cuba was described as a pantomime of barnyard animals. The maintenance of steady level shoulders while dancing was possibly derived from the way the slaves moved while carring heavy burdens. The step still used today called the "Cucaracha" pantomimed stomping on cockroaches. The "Spot Turn" (also still used today) emulated walking around the rim of a cartwheel. The British dance teacher Pierre Lavelle visited Havana in 1947 and discovered that the Rumba was danced with the break step on beat 2 of the bar, rather than on beat 1 as in the American Rumba. He brought this back to Britain, together with the names of the many steps he learned from Pepe Rivera in Havana. These together with dancing the break on beat 2 rather than beat 1, have become part of the standard International Cuban Rumba. Examples of Rumba music you can dance to include Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps(Doris Day) and Take My Breath Away(Berlin)

Paso Doble

Paso Doble is one of the most famous Spanish dances seen in competition. You will recognize the music of the most popular Paso Doble, the "Spanish Gypsy Dance", the moment it begins! This dance was first discovered in Mexico and made popular here in the U.S. during the 1920's. The gentleman in the dance represents the bullfighter while the lady's movement represents the bullfighter's red cloth also known as "Cappa," or sometimes the bull.


Jive is usually the last dance in latin competition, and is one of the hardest dances athletically to perform. It contains chasse steps, kicks and turns with the feet. Often these are complicated, and partners must stay focused on the rhythm so as not to slip off-track! Partners are often judged on the energy that they give to its performance, in addition to the steps. The "moving center" of the dance, in Jive's case the handhold, should remain firm. Good coordination is essential, especially when executing sharp turns and difficult hand movements. Examples of Jive music include White I Like About You(The Romantics), Runaround Sue(Dion), Zoot Suit Riot(Cherry Poppin Daddies).

The Ballroom Dance Company
503 - 639 - 4861

We provide high quality instruction at the following location:
Shawn Gardner Dancing
8900 SW Commercial St, Tigard OR


I-5 to exit 294,
Follow 99W west
Left on Hall,
Right on Commercial
(you'll see Salon Natalia)
Ballroom is on your left


217 to exit 292,
Right on 99W,
Get in far left lane
Left on Hall
(you'll see Salon Natalia)
Right on Commercial


I-5 to exit 292B
(Kruse Way toward 72nd)
Left on 72nd
Right on Hunziger
Left on Hall
Right on Commercial

Look for the burgundy & gold building with the "BALLROOM" marquee