Dance Terms from A - Z
Ball(1) The rounded part of the foot between the toes and the arch.
(2) Described in the footwork section of a technique chart, abbreviated “B”. A “Ball” step is taken with the heel slightly raised off the floor and is usually initiated from the inside edge of the ball of the foot. .
Ball Flat Described in the footwork section of a technique chart, abbreviated “BF”. A “Ball Flat” step is taken first with the ball of the foot (usually initiated on the inside edge)and then lowered to the whole foot (flat)
Ball Heel Described in the footwork section of a technique chart, abbreviated “BH”. A “Ball Heel” step is taken first with the ball of the foot and then rolling backwards onto the heel. It is used in the description of backward walks to indicate the delayed lowering of the heel.
Heel/Heel Lead (1) The part of the foot directly below the ankle and behind the arch.
(2) Used in the footwork section of a technique manual abbreviated as “H”, “HT”, or “HB” In all three examples, the first part of the step is taken with the foot flexed and the heel in contact with the floor, then rolling down to a flat foot. “H” is used when there is no rise on the step. “HT” is used when there is commencement of rise at the end of the step. “HB” is sometimes used in Tango to indicate a heel lead without rise but with turn. “HF” is used predominantly in samba and is not a heel lead since there is no flexing of the ankle.
Inside Edge A Footwork term indicating that the foot is placed first on the inside edge of the ball or whole foot prior to completely transferring weight to the whole foot.
Stride Used in the ballroom dances to indicate the furthest distance between the feet as a step is taken.
Toe Used to describe footwork where the weight is on the toes of the supporting foot with the heel raised.
Toe Heel (1) Footwork starting from a rise on the toes of the supporting foot and then lowering onto the heel. (2) The footwork used on back steps in the Smooth and Standard dances where the weight rolls backwards onto the foot from the toes to the heel.
III. General Technique Terms
Across A foot position taken either forward or backward in CBMP that is taken further over the path of the other foot.
Alignment (1) The direction that the feet are pointing in relationship to the room and the line of dance. (2) The position of the different body parts relative to one another. Proper alignment is achieved by lining up the different “blocks of weight”: the head, shoulders, rib cage, hips, legs, and feet. Related terms are Poise and Posture.
Amount of Turn The amount of turn, described in fractions, to indicate how much turn is made on one foot or between two or more consecutive steps. Related terms are Body Turn, Body Turns Less and Body Completes Turn.
Backing A term used in the description of Alignments to specify a step which is moving backwards (i.e. Backing LOD, Backing DC). Related terms are Facing and Pointing.
Body Rise Elevation of the body achieved by straightening the knees.
Body Turn Amount of turn of the body when it is different from the feet.
Body Turns Less/ Body Completes Turn Used primarily on the inside of turns when the amount of body rotation is less than the amount of turn made by the feet. Body Turns Less is usually followed on a subsequent step by Body Completes Turn.
Broken Sway (1) Body sway, which does not result from the natural swinging action of the body.(i.e. Oversway). (2)Dropping of the side during a normal sway.
Brush The action of closing the moving foot to the standing foot without changing weight, between steps.
Center (1) The middle of the dance floor.
(2) In the technique charts in manuals, the Center refers to an imaginary line running parallel to the Wall and dividing the room, and is different on each line of dance.
Contra Body Movement (CBM) Used to commence turns in the Ballroom dances. Occurs only on forward and backward steps and is the action of turning the right side of the body toward the left moving leg or the left side of the body toward the right moving leg.
Contra Body Movement Position (CBMP) A foot position taken forward or backward where the foot is placed on the same track or across the track of the other foot. This position is always used when stepping outside partner in order to maintain a good body position .It is also used on LF forward walks and RF back Walks in Tango. This concept is frequently confused with Contra Body Movement because of the similarity of the names, but it is important to remember that CBMP is not a turn of the body, but rather a placement of the foot.
Cuban Motion A distinctive hip movement used in most American Style Latin dances achieved by alternating the bending and straightening of the knees with carefully timed weight changes. The hip action in the International Style Latin dances differs in that weight is taken onto a straight leg instead of a bent knee with a more direct weight change.
Diagonal Movement either forward or backward which is simultaneously lateral (sideways) and progressive (forward or backward.
Element The components of a dance pattern, i.e. footwork, sway, CBM, etc. that make up a figure and creates the product of what the figure is.
Facing A term used when presenting alignments to mean that the body and feet are positioned in the same direction. (i.e. Facing LOD, Facing Wall)
Flat Used in the “footwork” section of a technical manual this means that the whole of the foot is on the floor during a particular movement. (i.e. 3rd step of Samba Walk, 2nd step of a Reverse Turn in Tango for follower.)
Follows The particular figures, which can logically by danced after a given figure.
Foot Position The direction of the moving foot in relation to the standing foot. Common foot positions are LF Forward, RF Side, LF closes to RF.
Foot Rise Elevation of the body using the ankles by pushing up onto the balls or toes of the fee
Footwork The part of the foot in contact with the floor at a specific point in time. (i.e. Heel, Heel Toe, Toe Heel, Toe)..
Heel Turn A turn on the heel of one foot.
Instep The part of the foot which is on the inside edge, between the ball and the heel.
Latin Hip Motion The specific hip action used in the International Latin dances, characterized by stepping on a straight leg with a slightly quicker transference of weight. Cuban Motion is another type of hip motion used in the American Style rhythm dances.
Line of Dance Refers to the direction of movement in a ballroom that is parallel to the walls and moves counter clockwise around the room so that all the dancers travel in the same direction.
Lowering The action of coming down from a position of rise by bending the knees and lowering the heel to the floor. It is a characteristic of Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, and Quickstep.
Moving Used in connection with Alignments as given in a technical manual to mean the direction that one is traveling when different from the direction that the foot is pointing (i.e.1st step of a Closed Promenade in Tango)
Moving Foot/Moving Leg Refers to the foot or leg that is about to take a step verses the foot or leg that has the weight (standing leg).
No Foot Rise Indicates that the dancer should not rise to the toe of the foot, but rather keep the foot flat. This action is used on the inside of turns on the back step and also on progressive backward steps in certain dances (i.e. Foxtrot). This will typically be abbreviated NFR in dance manuals.
Outside Foot The foot which is furthest from partner when in Promenade, Outside Partner, or Side-by-Side Position.
Pivot A turn on the ball of the foot keeping the free leg held forward or back in CBMP.
Pivoting Action A movement that occurs on a Right foot Forward pivot with the Left Foot not held in CBMP.
Point An extension of the free leg in any direction placed on the floor without weight, and with the heel raised and only the toes in contact with the floor.
Pointing An alignment term meaning that the foot is placed in a particular direction (usually to the side) that is different from the direction that the body is facing.
Precedes The particular figures which can logically by danced before a given figure.
Rise and Fall The rising and lowering of the body through the flexing and straightening of the knees, ankles and feet.
Shoulder Leading The older and now outdated term for Side Leading
Side Leading This action refers to taking a Forward or Backward step where the entire side of the body moves with the leg. Used to prepare to step outside partner and also used on Right Foot Forward Walks (Left Foot back Walks for follower) in Tango.
Standing Leg/Standing Foot The leg (or foot) that is holding the majority of the weight so that the other leg (foot) is free to move.
Step A complete transference of weight from one foot to another.
Supporting Leg/Supporting Foot Same as Standing Leg/Standing Foot to mean the leg or foot that is holding the majority of the weight so that the other foot is free to take the next step.
Sway An inclination of the body away from the moving foot, usually toward the inside of a turn. In some cases, however, sway may be made toward the moving foot. Normal sway is a result of hip swing. Broken sway is a result of bending from the waist .
Swivel A turn on the ball of one foot prior to taking a step.
Tap (Touch) Touching the floor with the free foot without weight. It is usually placed close to the standing foot with the ball of the foot.
Toe Pivot A turn on the toes of both feet, with feet together. Example: Double Reverse Spin and Outside Spin.
Toe Release The action used when stepping backwards where the toe of the front foot lifts from the floor leaving the heel in contact with the floor.
Walk Backward The precise and specific manner of taking a back step in the Ballroom dances.
Walk Forward The precise and specific manner of taking a forward step in the Ballroom dances.