Glossary of Dance Terms

  • Basic Waltz Steps. (Left, Side, Close, -- Right Side, Close.)  These six steps are the building blocks for all forms of waltz, and indeed, an important grounding for all genres of dances.  If a beginner dancer, first practices these Basic Waltz Steps until they become embedded in the subconscious mind, mastering all forms of dancing will become an effortless enjoyable and rewarding experience.
      A similar analogy is the learning of multiplication tables by rote until they are firmly implanted in the mind. Without this simple ability which we all take for granted we would be unable to solve complex mathematical and physics equations or even simple  maths problems.  The same is true with dancing.  It's easier if one knows the Basic Waltz Steps.

  • Basic Waltz Steps explained It's quite simple.  First face the way you want to go.  Left foot steps forward.  Right foot diagonally forward until it is parallel with and apart from the left foot.  Left foot closes sideways to right foot until they are together. when the feet are together, shift your body-weight from the right foot to the left foot so that the right foot is free to step.  Next, Right foot steps forward.  Left foot diagonally forward until it is parallel with and apart from the right foot.  Right foot closes sideways to left foot until they are together. when the feet are together, shift your body-weight from the left foot to the right foot so that the left foot is free to step.
    So these are the basic steps.  Six foot movements to be learnt.  Easier than learning your times tables.  If you run out of room going forward, simply reverse direction and go backward same process but stepping back instead of forward. Hint:- Say aloud to yourself, "Left, Side, Close, -- Right Side, Close, Left, Side, Close, -- Right Side, Close."

  • Twinkles.  Funny name but another simple exercise to vastly improve your dancing. Forward together back together.                   To do this, first Left foot forward then Right foot forward to join (close with) the Left foot.  Change weight.  Next Left foot  steps back then Rightt foot back to close with the Leftt foot.  Change weight.  Repeat these 4 steps over and over, making sure that your steps are left right left right and so on.  You can perform the same exercise starting with the right foot.

  • Ballroom Hold,  Closed Position.  In  ballroom dancing, this is the most basic and common position used to move around the dance floor.  Man and lady stand in front of each other with body contact, slightly offset to the left. The feet should be positioned  so that the right foot of either partner can step between the other partner's feet.  Man's left hand to lady's right hand, palm to palm in an upper-hand clasp, with fingers and thumbs closed around partner's hand.  Man's right hand on lady's back. Right hand is loosely cupped with fingers and thumb together (not spread apart).  Hand connects to her back on her shoulder blade. Lady's left hand and forearm rests on man's upper arm.  This connection can vary, based on the length of each partner's arm  and relative height.  A well-matched couple of average height and arm length will find her hand resting on top of the junction of his deltoid and bicep.
    A variation of the Closed Position is the Right or Left Parallel Position.  The Right Parallel Position (or Outside Right Position) is similar to the Closed Position with the exception of foot positioning.  ​In the Right Parallel Position, the woman’s feet are to the right of the man’s feet. The couples’ right shoulders should be directly across from one another.  The man’s right hand should be placed slightly lower on the woman’s back.​ The Left Parallel Position (or Outside Left Position) is similar to the Closed Position with the exception of foot positioning.  In the Left Parallel Position, the woman’s feet are to the left of the man’s feet. The couples’ left shoulders should be directly across from one another.  The man’s right hand should be placed slightly lower on the woman’s back.

  • Ballroom Hold, Promenade Position.  The Promenade Position is a "V"-shaped (open) position with man's left side and lady's right side slightly open, allowing both boy and girl to walk forward down the floor.  Hand positions are the same as for closed position.  The man's head should be turned to the left, the lady's to the right.

  • Open Facing Position​.  Any position where partners stand facing each other, apart but within arms reach. There are many possibilities of contact points, but the most common are the hands, as in the two-hand hold, where the man's left hand holds the lady's right hand, and his right hand holds her left.  His palms are turned upward, and hers are turned downward.  Other possibilities include a one-hand hold such as man's left to lady's right or man's right to lady's left, a "cross-hand" or "handshake hold" such as man's right to lady's right or man's left to lady's left.

  • UPPER SHADOW HOLD:- Lady stands in front of Man and slightly to his Right side facing the same direction.  Lady's Left shoulder blade should be in light contact with Man's Right chest.  Lady raises both arms so the elbows are slightly lower than the shoulders.
    The elbows are sharply bent to allow the forearms to slope upwards and slightly forward from elbows to hands, with palms Facing front.  Man raises his arms and takes hold of Lady's hands from the outside placing his thumb on the back of Lady's hand and the four fingers in the palm of each hand.  Lady will lightly close the fingers on top of the Man's hand.

  • LOWER or SEMI-SHADOW HOLD :- This position is exactly the same as UPPER SHADOW HOLD except that the Man will place his Right hand on the Lady's Right hip with the Lady placing her Right hand on top of Man's Right hand.  Lady must extend the Right elbow outwards away from the body.

    Alternatively, the Lady may leave the Right hand extended to the side just below shoulder height.  Free arm may be used in co-ordination with the music.

    Man and Lady mostly use the same foot and travel in the same direction.

  • OPEN EXTENDED HOLD :- Man and Lady stand side by side facing the same direction with the Lady on the Man's Right side.

    Man holds Lady's Left hand in his Right hand at shoulder height with the free arms extended to the side just below shoulder height.  Free arm may be used in co-ordination with the music.

    Man and Lady use opposite feet and travel in the same direction.

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