As America was pulled into a world war once again, dance continued to serve as an outlet of happiness in a time of national anxiety. The "Big Band Era" kept dances like the "swing" popular, as well as introducing new styles that appealed to the youth of the nation.
A new ballroom dance, the Rumba, emerged during the 1940's. It had both African and Latin (mostly Cuban) influences, and was considered the "provocative" dance of the decade's youth. The steps involved rolling of the hips and movements in small, confined spaces.
In attempt to lighten the spirits of war-stricken citizens, the "Jive" dance swept the nation. With African-American influences, the dance had characteristics of both Swing and the Lindy-hop. It consisted of small jumpy-quick movements, and was considered the fastest dance of the time. The major difference between the Jive and other dances of the time period was the fact that the dance did not travel over a large amount of space.
During the 1940's, tap dancing hit it's peak. Originally performed by mostly African-Americans, the dance gained popularity throughout American culture. The style of dance was featured in many movies, making it even more popular. The most famous tap dancer of the time was Ann Miller, who was listed as the world's fastest tapper: 598 taps per minute.
Fred Astaire is considered by many to be the first icon of dance in America. Although he was popular throughout the 1930's with his partner Ginger Rogers, he continued to lead the ballroom phenomena in the 1940's. He was featured in many Broadway plays and films, including the renowned "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), his only movie in technicolor.