Latin dance as we know it today is a loose term that encompasses several dances from Cha Cha Cha to Flamenco to Caribbean dances that are lesser known to western and European audiences. These dances draw influencesand originated from a variety of influences and cultures, some of which include:
- Indigenous Roots
Many Latin dances have indigenous roots, drawing inspiration from native Mexico, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. Dance was essential part of these native and indigenous cultures. Not only was dance a form of entertainment but also symbolism of beliefs, combats, and large events.
- European Influences; Spanish and Portuguese colonists moved into indigenous empires and eventually brought their fancy and forward-thinking dances with them in the 17th and 18th century. These dances moved across Latin America and were incorporated into existing dance forms.
- African Influence; Fast forward to the 19th century, dances were a symbol of elite societies and different dances had different meanings and status associations. African slaves started having an influence on Latin dance as people became fascinated with polycentric rhythms and movement as well as whole foot steps and other dance elements.