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H. Leon Raper




Paddle Turn

A Paddle Turn occurs in one spot over the weighted foot. The free foot is used as a paddle when needed to refresh the turning energy. During each turn the CPB must be centered over the weighted foot and the hips and shoulders must be aligned.

Passive Connection (Tone, Resistance)

A Passive Connection would be considered neutral with a very slight amount of resistance.  This occurs during follow-thru of a step pattern.  Also see Centering/Centered.


Absolute Pattern
Adjusted Pattern
Rhythm Pattern
Step Pattern
Independent Step Pattern
Dependent Step Pattern


A phrase is a musical sentence. Phrasing is the punctuation of a musical structure. The melodic structure of a composition is made up of phrases that balance one another. That is, the notes or sounds of a phrase sound like they belong together.

To see the importance of phrasing, consider the analogy of reading a poem. Without proper phrasing in its presentation, the poem would become just a series of words with no spark and very little feeling. Phrasing and Accent bring life to poetry, music and dance.

Mini Phrase
4/4 Time = 8 beats of music
3/4 Time = 6 beats of music
Minor Phrase
4/4 Time = 16 or 24 beats of music.
Major Phrase
A Major Phrase is a series of Mini Phrases. The number of Mini Phrases will be that which will express a complete musical thought such as in a Chorus, Bridge, Verse, etc. In 4/4 Time the number of beats per Major Phrase would be completely dependent on the music and could be 32,40,48 or more beats of music (increasing in Mini Phrase increments).


Is a ballet turn (spin) performed in place with one leg in relevé and the other in passé. During each turn the CPB must be centered over the weighted foot and the hips and shoulders must be aligned. Also see Ballet Terms.

See: YouTube Videos


Is the frequency of the musical sounds - the number of vibrations per second of some sound producing element. A pitch could be high, low, medium, etc. This definition is included only for general information. It is not of general interest for the dancer except for understanding the concept of an Accent.


A Pivot is a turn on the weighted foot up to a maximum of 1/2 turn.

In researching the definitions of a Pivot or a Pivot Turn it is like trying to make a selection from a very large menu in a Chinese Restaurant. About the only commonality is that a Pivot or Pivot Turn is a turn on the ball of the foot. From there every writer gets into the act adding their additional characteristics. The following are just a few of the other other definitions.

Another definition in common usage that says a Pivot is the same as what this writer defines as a Pivot Turn.  Another definition states that the Pivot can be executed on the balls of both feet.

YouTube Videos: Pivots,

Pivot Turn

A Pivot Turn will be defined as a Pivot executing a 1/2 Turn (180 degrees) keeping the inner thighs together during the turn.

However, there are several other different definitions of a Pivot Turn in common usage as follows: (1) Defined as a full turn (360 degrees). (2) The same as this writer's definition of a Pivot.

Plié (plee-ay)

A downward bending movement of both knees. A half bend is called a demi-plié and a deep bend is called a grand plié. Also see Ballet Terms.


For most dances good posture is defined as: body erect, eyes level, buttocks tucked in. There are several techniques recommended by dance instructors for accomplishing good posture.

One technique is to pull the tummy muscles into the CPB. This results in many of the desired posture elements to occur. However, it takes a little practice to be able to isolate the tummy muscles so they can be pulled into the CPB.

Another technique is to lift the shoulders up, back and then down.

Another technique defined by Skippy Blair is to "project the centering knob, at the base of the neck, straight back." For a complete definition see "Walk Like A Dancer" by Skippy Blair.

Posture exceptions occur in some forms of swing dance such as Lindy Hop that use what is called a C-Frame.


Press the ball of the foot down into the floor in order to move the CPB in the desired direction. Also see Foot Leads

Problem Areas

The following are helpful suggestions for basic students or those who have danced for a while and are having difficulties. Also see Problems & Solutions (Techniques & Problem Solving for Dance Instructors)

Count if you want to learn to dance

Count or repeat the teacher's verbal instructions. If you can't lock onto the rhythm patterns you will never learn to dance.

Standing on both feet

Don't stand on both feet or your pants will fall off. Keep the unweighted heel off the floor.

Don't watch your feet:
Don't watch your feet or all your kids will be born naked. Also, you will make a lot of mistakes.

Stepping (Walking or In Place)

First you have to decide if you are a people or a duck. Ducks waddle, people don't.

Walking steps: Walk in strait lines unless directed otherwise. There is a technique called "tracking." Single tracking is walking on one line. Double tracking is walking on two lines very close together with one foot on each line.

Steps in place: The feet must be kept very close together when stepping in place. One common problem is that new dancers have their feet too far apart.


You must learn the technique of centering or your dancing will always be out of control.


Dancers must learn the meaning of connection (active & passive). Without proper connection a leader can't lead and a follower can't follow.

Lead & Follow

Leaders: Dancing is not meant to be a wrestling match. The leader must not drag the follower around the dance floor. You must learn the principles of connection (active & passive).

Followers: Once you receive a lead you must execute everything under your own power. Leader's classify followers as follows: either they dance like a feather or they dance like a mack truck.

Spaghetti Arms: Spaghetti arms as they are commonly referred to is normally a follower's problem. When the leader leads, the follower's body is expected to respond in some manner. What often occurs with new follower's is that their arms just move and the body goes nowhere.


Centering: You must learn the technique of centering or you will always have problems with turns.

Spotting: Whoever turns must spot in some direction or they will get so dizzy that they might be arrested by the dance floor police for being under the influence.

Leader's: Don't crank turns.  It throws follower's off balance.

Follower's: Execute turns under your own power (without help) or you will get off balance.

Monitor something

Don't just kick your brain out of gear, monitor something like the count, centering, movement, etc.  Also see Teaching Techniques & Problem Solving.

Problems & Solutions

Techniques & Problem Solving for Dance Instructors

Progressive Break Turn

There are some similarities between the Break Turn and the Progressive Break turn in that the turn is done on both feet. The differences are that the Progressive Break Turn does not return from whence it came. For example do the following:

Double Rhythm Example - common followers styling

Count 1:
Step forward onto your Right foot (4th foot position) -- leaving a little weight on your left foot ... Turn: Execute 1/2 turn on both feet in the opposite direction of your forward foot (Left Turn, 4th foot position)
Count 2:
Step together onto your Left Foot (1st foot position) or Cross in Front.

Triple Rhythm Example - common followers styling

Going beyond just two steps and on to three opens up many styling options (such as in a Triple Rhythm. For example lets take the first two steps above and add a third.

Count 3:
Step forward onto your right foot (4th foot position) -- leaving a little weight on your left foot ...Turn: Execute 1/2 turn on both feet in the opposite direction of your forward foot (Left Turn, 4th foot position)
Count & or a :
Step together onto your Left Foot (1st foot position) or Cross in front/together
Count 4:
Step together onto your Right Foot (1st foot position) or step back (4th foot position)

Please note that this Progressive Break Turn is a new term I have come up with. However, I would welcome suggestions for another name if anyone can come up with a better one. Contact me - H. Leon Raper

Promenade Position

The dance partners are standing in a "V" shaped closed position stance and hand-hold.

The normal Ballroom form is with the right side of the leader's torso in contact with the center of the follower's torso, with the other side of both dancers other slightly open. The dancers will be spotting down the LOD.

Other forms have the right side of the Leader's torso in contact with the left side of the follower's torso, with the other side of both dancers other slightly open. The dancers will be spotting down the LOD.


This is normally thought of as the retraction of the foot after a Kick or Dab.


A regularly recurring accent. One example could to accent all the down Beats. Another example could accent all the up beats.  And yet another could be to accent every 4th beat,  or 8th beat, etc.


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H. Leon Raper