Linedancer WikiDance

General Dance Terminology Explained

Here is a directory of commonly used words and phrases associated with dance with an explanation of their meaning. If you find something is not listed, please let us know.

The correct alignment or placement of the body ensures a good posture is achieved which helps to prevent unnecessary strain on muscles and ligaments and friction on joints. Safe dance principles will include an awareness of body and how it moves and the correct alignment of different areas of body.
When two or more dance patterns are combined it is know as a amalgamation. This may be two part of two different patterns to make a new complete pattern or two or more complete patterns danced one following the other.
The ‘& count” is used to identify the step that falls between two beats of music as in 1 & 2 & 3 & 4. In common time a walk forward would be 1,2,3,4, taking four steps. A walk forward with ‘& counts” would take eight steps but in the same time. 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & = Eight Steps.
This is a Brazilian word used to describe a strong Samba rhythm which is generally played by large percussion groups and traditionally accompanies street festivals, carnival and parades. The Samba music is based in 2/4 time with a high bass drum beat on the first beat, a lower foundation beat on the second and a highly syncopated rhythm is played over the top. Think Brazil, think carnival, think Batucade.
From the Samba the a Bota Fogo pattern is a three step repeating routine with a gentle bounce. It often uses the counting pattern of 1 a2. 3 a4. An example would be -forward on right foot. Left to the side with light and quick weight change. Return weight to right foot. Repeat pattern leading on left foot.
This term refers to a sequence of music that does not fit into the structure of either the chorus or the verse of the song. A Bridge generally indicates that a section or sections have been added to the music which alters the musical pattern. Used as a transition between two parts of the music or a preparation to return to chorus or verse. Popular songs often connect the verse and chorus via a bridge. When this happens some choreography specifically accommodates the bridge with additional steps. The bridge is often referred to as the middle eight or the release. In dance terms it is often referred to as tag meaning the choreographer has created extra steps to allow for the phasing of the music.
The CPB is in the general area of the solar plexus (abdomen) for the gentlemen, and navel for the women. Being aware of your CPB, both consciously and instinctively, gives better control of overall dance movement and balance.
Used to prepare the body to move into a turn. The body is turned against the standing foot towards the direction of the turn. e.g. Left shoulder would be pulled back with weight on forward right foot in preparation for a turn to the right.
This refers to a step backwards with a bent knee making a slight dip (if used in partner dancing) the lady would take a corresponding step forward. Sometimes called a Hover or a Check.
Also known as Latin motion, it is the distinctive hip movement classic in all latin dances. The motion is created by stepping with the inside ball of the foot first then rolling through to the full foot, the heel barely touching the floor - described as "kissing the floor" with your heel. Then using the kiss to push off the floor into the next step. The push will straighten the knee and create the hip roll.
Hips rotate around the hips through the action of the feet and knees. The straightening of the knee happens after the full weight transfer. As a result, the Cuban hip motion results in a more fluid leg movement.
Light rock steps in a three step pattern starting and ending with feet together. Side rock on the right foot and return weight to the left, then return weight to the right foot as you close right to left. Repeat leading with the left foot. 1 & 2, 3 & 4. Think:- Rock right to side (1), Rock left in place (&), Close right to left (2) The motion uses hip action in syncopation.
A code of conduct offering advice on social dance conduct and guidelines devised to ensure the dance floor can be shared and enjoyed by all. It takes into account an element of health and safety on the dance floor.
This term refers to the strongest best in a measure of music. In 4/4 rhythm the down beats will be on count one and two. The upbeat will be on counts three and four.
Well known, simple patterns are referred to as figure basics. Generally they are used when instructing new dancers. The basic figures are not established as a formal guide to teaching but most experience teachers use them to give dancers basic skills and confidence.
Being aware of those around you. Paying attention to movement and direction so as not to disrupt or bump into others. Watching and anticipating what is going on around you so that everyone is able to enjoy the dance floor.
As in the Argentine Tango when the legs and feet are a major influence on the dance. Foot articulations are high and low flicks, kicks used in interlacing with partners legs to add drama and excitement to the performance.
Establish from ballet technique.There are five basic foot positions known as the first through fifth positions.All five positions require the feet to be turned out. First Position The feet together in a straight line Second Postion Aligned as first position but feet spaced about twelve inches apart. Third Position One foot in front of the other.The heel of the front foot is touching the instep of the back foot. Fourth Postion Either open or closed.One foot is placed about twelve inches in front of the other.Heels are aligned. Fifth Position One foot is placed in front of and in contact with the other.The heel of one foot aligned with the toe of the other foot.
Referring to the body position more commonly used in couple dancing.Creating a frame is when the body is used for connection and posture that results in a pleasing shape.A pose that adds styling and grace to a performance while assisting with balance and timing.
Genre is used to describe and identify the many different types of dance. Example, Line dance, Tap Dance, Ballroom Dance. Folk Dance, Latin Dance etc..
When the action is paused for effect with the weight held on the supporting foot for one or more beats of music. Used for dramatic effect and musicality.
The hips are rotated around the spine. With feet place slightly apart underneath the hip bones, knees bent, chest lifted and arms relaxed. Push hips to one side, push to the back and then push to the other side and back to the front in a smooth circular motion. Can be performed in small or large circles slowly or a speed.
The action of movement in a given direction used to aid to flow into the next movement.
The Line of Dance describes the counterclockwise flow of dancers around a ballroom floor. In dances that travel around the dance floor such as Waltz, Quick Step or Foxtrol it is customary and safer for all dancers to travel in the same direction.
When dancers use the speed of an action to help propel or assist the the next movement in a routine.
The ability to hear and interpret music - to be able to identify different rhythms and timing and be able to instinctively feel and artistically express dance to the music.
A Spanish word meaning eight - describing the figures eight shape that the step pattern makes on the floor. Step forward on right foot, swivel a half turn to the right as the left foot sweeps to close next to right. Stepping through on the left foot swivel a half turn to the left as the right foot sweeps to close next to left. Feet stay close to floor and closed in the swivel turn.
(pronouned - Pah-d-bah) A ballet move and also a traditional step pattern in Scottish Country dancing. It is a three step pattern performed generally on the spot over three beats of music. It consists of one long and two short movements transferring weight from one foot to the other on the spot. Line dance inference would suggested a long step to the side followed by a rock back (or forward) to quickly recover.
A musical pattern. Generally consisting of a regular number of beats which are repeated throughout the music. More often then not music is phrased in eight bar patterns but odd-measures are not infrequent. A self-contained piece of choreography that has a definite beginning, middle, and end; Choreography is normally phrased in eight bar patterns or to match a specific song structure.
Dancing with your feet is one thing, dancing with your heart is something else.
Restart can have two meanings. 1) TO FIT THE MUSIC A restart appears during a dance to specifically blend with the music in which case the choreography is stopped at a particular musical point and the dance routine restarts either from the beginning or from a designated point. 2) TO RESTART (REPEAT) THE ROUTINE A point in a dance routine when the choreography ends e.g.32 counts. As the song continues the dance routine will simply 'restart' from the beginning and keep restarting until the music ends. Often referred to as "Repeat."
It is the beat and accents of the music that creates the musical rhythm. The beat value or accents and the timing of the beats is what creates the rhythm.
The effect created in waltzes as the first forward step in a pattern is taken with a heel lead lowering the body. The following steps taken on the toes raising the body. Repeating the pattern of heel, toe, toe give the Rise and Fall of traditional ballroom waltzes.
The name given to either a grapevine or weave with a Ronde sweep leading into a repeat of the pattern.Example:- Step right to right side (1) Cross left behind right (2) Step right to right side (3) Cross left over right (4) Sweep right from back to front in circle to end crossed over left (5) Step left to the left side (6) Cross right behind Left (7) Sweep left from front to back in circle to end crossed over right (8)
A technique used to prevent dizziness when making repeated turns.The eyes focus on one point holding the head in position while the body starts the turn, the head follows the body and the eye return to the focus point. That pattern is then repeated.
A Step Sheet is choreography in written form. A Step Sheet (Script) gives the name of the choreographer, where they are from plus contact details. It will include the name of the dance and when it was created.It will provide precise instructions on which steps are to be perform and how to perform them and give information on music suggestion, the level of the dance, the number of walls, the step count and all other relevant information.
Syncopation is a musical rather than a dance term but it is commonly used to described step patterns that have more rhythmical nuances than standard single step patterns.It is also referred to as double time.e.g.Instead of dancing a four step pattern with one step for each whole beat as in 1, 2, 3, 4.In double time or in syncopation eight steps are danced in the same amount of time, one step on each half beat as in 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 making a total of eight step in four beats of music.
This is generally a ballroom term which relates to turning. Telemark is just another way of saying turn. Reference will be made to both Open and Closed Telemarks in each case it relates to the degree and direction of the turn and more often than not the following steps.
Refers to the speed of the music which dictates the pace of the dance. It is usual indicated by the number of beats per minute (BPM) This can relate either to the musical value of the note or to the time between the beats.
A variation is a reference to any modification to a set piece of choreography. It is the same pattern danced with a variation. In line dancing everyone knows there is no such things as a mistake… they are merely variations that often make us laugh.
A pattern that involves one foot being crossed behind the other foot putting weight onto the back foot and then returning it to the front foot. The steps of a whisk are performed in place.