Glossary of dance moves
Basic (step / figure / movement / or pattern)
A basic figure is the very basic step that defines the character of a dance. Often it is called just thus: "basic movement", "basic step" or the like. For some dances it is sufficient to know the basic step performed in different handholds and dance positions to enjoy it socially.
The box step is a dance figure named so because the steps rest in the four corners of a square. It is used, e.g., in American Style ballroom dances: rumba, waltz, bronze-level foxtrot. The leader begins with the left foot and proceeds as follows.
- First half-box: Forward-side-together
- Second half-box: Backwards-side-together
Rhythm varies, e.g., it is "1-2-3,4-5-6" in Waltz and "slow quick quick, slow quick quick" in Rumba.
Chaînés / chainé turns / chaines turns
French for "chain", a series of quick turns starting from second position going to first position alternating on either flat feet or on relevé with progression along a straight line or circle.
Chassé (French, "to chase") is a dance step with a triple step pattern used in many forms of dance. It is a gliding, flowing step with the feet essentially following a step–together–step pattern. Timing and length of steps vary from dance to dance.
Closed change is a basic step in the waltz. The man steps forward on either foot whilst the lady steps backward on the opposing foot (e.g.: the man steps forward on his right foot whilst the lady steps back on her left). They will then step to the side on the other foot, and conclude the figure by closing the first foot beside the second (hence the name "closed" of the step). Each step takes up a full beat of the music.
Cross-body lead is a common and useful move in Latin dances such as salsa, mambo, rumba and cha-cha-cha. Basically, the man on counts 2 and 3 of his basic step (assuming dancing on 1) does a quarter-left turn (90° counter-clockwise) while still holding on to the woman. On counts 4 and 5, he leads the woman forward across him, i.e., firmly leads her with his right hand on her back, so that she travels across and turns around and faces the opposite direction she was facing. At the same time, the man does another quarter-left turn as necessary in order to follow the woman and face her. At the end of the move, the dancers have their positions exchanged.
The cross-body lead can be done with single-hand or double hand hold, with or without a woman's underarm turn, or leading the woman to do a free spin.
Dos-à-dos / dosado
Dosado is a circular movement where two people, who are initially facing each other, walk around each other without or almost without turning, i.e., facing in the same direction (same wall) all the time.
Double reverse spin
This is a dance movement common in salsa, where the two dance partners facing each other change positions. The dance partners keep contact with one or two hands while stepping to rotate concentrically over 180 degrees around the same point in opposite directions.
"Gancho" means "hook" in Spanish and describes certain "hooking actions" in some dances of Latin American heritage, in Argentine tango (leg action) and salsa (arm action and foot action) in particular.
A ballroom dance move, which is the turn on the heel of the support foot while the other foot is held close and parallel to the support one. At the end of the turn the weight is transferred from one foot to another.
Inside partner step
The term is applied to an individual turn of a partner in the couple. Basically, it denotes a turn where the arm of the partner doing the turn begins by moving towards the "inside" of the couple (the line running from the center of one partner to the center of the other). The meaning is intuitively clear, but it may be performed in numerous ways and in different handholds, so that even accomplished dancers are confused. In dances such as swing and salsa, inside and outside turns most commonly refer to underarm turns done by the follower. Since in these dances the follower's right arm is normally used to lead a turn (most commonly by the leader's left arm, but sometimes by the leader's right arm when a cross-hand or "handshake" position is used), an inside turn is normally a left (counter-clockwise) turn, while an outside turn is a right (clockwise) turn. However, if the follower's left arm is used to initiate the turn, the intended direction of turning may be opposite. (Alternatively, the non-ambiguous terms "left turn" and "right turn" may be used.)
See Direction of movement for more detail.
Moving the knee upwards and then quickly kicking downwards with the foot. The ankle is stretched, that is, the toes are pointing down.
A lock step is an alternative variation of a chassé action which occurs when the moving foot swings to a stop across the track of the standing foot rather than closing next to it. In the Latin dances the combination of the crossed position and the turnout of the feet means that the rear toe will be pointed at the heel of the other foot, while in the Standard dances the lack of turnout means the feet will be parallel. In Standard the basic locking action is usually preceded and followed by a left side lead. The Latin lock step is often featured when cha-cha is danced in open position with a one-hand hold.
The moonwalk is a dance technique that presents the illusion of the dancer being pulled backwards while attempting to walk forward.
Outside partner step
Cf. Inside turn.
The term is applied to an individual turn of a partner in the couple. Basically, it denotes the lead/follow connection directed "outside" of the center of the spinning individual. Inside and outside terminology can not be determined by relativity to partnership as such position alternates every 180 degrees of rotation. Connection points and application of active side are consistent only with regard to the axis of rotation and direction of spin.
See Direction of movement for more detail.
A pirouette usually means turning or spinning on one foot while touching the standing leg with the opposite leg in a bent position.
See Ballet glossary#Rond de jambe. A toe of the straight leg draws a semicircle on the floor. In ballroom dances the direction is usually from the front to back.
The thunder clap is a form of dance that incorporates clapping in the air with a sliding motion. To perform this dance one must raise one hand and then with the second hand meet the first one half way making a clapping sound; that hand must then fully extend. This motion is repeated to the beat of the music.
- In tap dancing, the time step is a recognizable rhythmic tap combination. The term comes from the time of great tap dancers that used their distinctive time step to tell the band the desired tempo. Common tap time steps are classified as single, double and triple. The basic rhythm and tempo remain the same but the number of sounds that happen on the second and sixth count of an eight-count phrase denotes single (often a single step) double (usually a flap or slap-tap) or triple (commonly shuffle-step). While these are the universal time steps, dancers often choose to create their own time steps, following the pattern two bars repeated three times with a two bar break.
- Time steps is a figure in International Style cha-cha-cha.
- In various rhythmic ballroom/social dances, time step sometimes refers to steps in place that mark the characteristic rhythm of the dance, "2-3-cha-cha-cha" for Cha-cha-cha, "1,2,3,4" for pasodoble, "1,2,3,...5,6,7,..." for "salsa on one", etc.
The walk is probably the most basic dance move. It exists in almost every dance. Walks approximately correspond normal walking steps, taking into the account the basic technique of the dance in question. (For example, in Latin-dance walks the toe hits the floor first, rather than the heel.)
In dance descriptions the term walk is usually applied when two or more steps are taken in the same direction. A single step, e.g., forward, is called just thus: "step forward".
Curved walks are done along a curve, rather than along a straight line.
The various kinds of whisk are dance moves in International Standard and American Smooth dances. They are characterised by the partners crossing their outside legs behind their inside legs, arriving in promenade position.
- "Glossary of Round Dance Terms" (PDF). International Choreographed Ballroom Dance Assiciation. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "Left Box (Reverse) Turn". BallroomDancers.com. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- Moore, Alex (2002). "Definition of technical terms". Ballroom Dancing (10th ed.). Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780878301539..
- "Double reverse spin". BallroomDancers.com. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- The Ballroom Technique (10th ed.). London: Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance.
- "Impetus". BallroomDancers.com. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- "Natural turn". BallroomDancers.com. Retrieved 2020-05-02.
- "Reverse turn". BallroomDancers.com. Retrieved 2020-05-02.
- "Natural spin turn". BallroomDancers.com. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- "Side whisks". BallroomDancers.com. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- "Wing". BallroomDancers.com. Retrieved 2020-06-09.