That may seem like a simple question to answer for anyone who runs a Balboa dance school. However, the meaning of the word 'Balboa' is subject to much confusion... We will try to clarify this later on, meanwhile just be aware that the word itself can mean many different things.
About the dance - there are a lot of different dances done in the Balboa community today, but the by far most common one is the modern Balboa as we describe it below. This is what we teach for beginners and what the vast majority of international dance teachers do at Balboa dance camps today.
There is a lot to learn about the different dances, how they are related to each other and how they have evolved over the years. To become a really good dancer, it is necessary to understand the history of the dance. We teach a bit of this in our classes, and we will also add more information here later on.
The modern Balboa dance has its roots in dances from the 1920ies and 30ies, and the music is usually the Jazz style from that time; the Swing music. The dance is often described as consisting of two major parts, Pure-Bal and Bal-Swing.
The Pure-Bal part is done in close position (chest to chest) and is characterized by calm and relaxed upper bodies and at the same time a lot of footwork. The basic step is a straight rhythm where each step or non-step (hold) is led, and on top of this basic both the leader and the follower add rhythms, ornaments and styling at their own will and most often independent of each other.
Bal-Swing is mostly done in open position and has spins and turns similar to those in Lindy Hop or swedish Bugg. There are a handful of different basic steps, each with infinite possibilities of variation. Some variations can be led but like in Pure-Bal, there is also room for both dancers to improvise and add footwork and styling of their own.
The Balboa dance of today has a long history, but it was not until a few years ago that it started to become really popular. Now it's spreading incredibly fast across Europe and all over the world, and the Balboa community is growing every day.
There are lots of video clips available online, where you can see different styles of Balboa. Here are links to a few of them.
Watch our teacher's teachers dance:
Peter Loggins and Mia Goldsmith
Dan Guest and Jessica Lennartsson
Sylvia Sykes and Nick Williams
Marty Klempner and Valerie Salstrom
Andy Spitz and Christelle De Cruz
David Rehm and Marie Nahnfeldt (+others)
Randy Maestretti and Kara Britt
Anne-Helene and Bernard Cavasa
Film clips with original dancers:
Hal and Betty Takier, the Maharadja clip
The Ray Rand Dancers, the Start Cheering clip
The Beach Clip (Dancers rehearsing before a contest)
Original dancers captured on video in the 1980ies:
Willie Desatoff and Ann Mills, Hal and Marge Takier
Bart Bartolo and Natalie Esparza
Maxie Dorf (with Sylvia Sykes)
Laminu (slow Balboa):
Ray Cunningham and Alison Plys
Dan Guest and Jessica Lennartsson (performance during the 1st All Laminu Weekend in Gothenburg)
Dan Guest and Vivien Davidhazy