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Absolute Pattern

An Absolute Pattern is a basic dance or Step Pattern done alone or by yourself. There are no partners in an Absolute Pattern as it's completely and individual dance and a good way to learn before dancing with a partner. When you add a partner this becomes an Adjusted Pattern.


An Accent in dance is a movement or shape performed in such a way as to give emphasis. Accents can be in music or dance. An accent may take place on a particular beat or melodic detail.

An example of an accent might be a louder note or beat in a song, but this is not the only way to create an accent. You could also have an accent occur on an off beat, or during a rhythm change. Accents are also used in music and may sometimes be referred to as a Stress.

Active Connection

As a part of lead and follow, an Active Connection is when the person leading the dance initiates the dance pattern. When the person following has learned or responded to the lead the connection changes to a Passive Connection.


Adagio is a musical and dance term that translates from Italian to "slowly" or "at ease." In the context of dance, particularly in ballet and other classical dance forms, "adagio" refers to a segment of a dance piece or choreography that is characterized by slow, flowing, and graceful movements. Adagio movements often emphasize the expressive and lyrical aspects of dance, with dancers performing slow and controlled movements with fluidity and emotional depth.

Adagio is in contrast to "allegro," which is a fast and lively section of a dance, and "andante," which is a moderate tempo. In ballet, adagio movements are often used to showcase a dancer's flexibility, extension, balance, and the ability to convey emotion through movement. Adagio sequences can be some of the most visually captivating moments in a ballet or dance performance, as they allow dancers to create beautiful shapes and lines while moving with great control and poise.

adagio allegro

Adjusted Pattern

An Adjusted Pattern is a basic dance or Step Pattern done with a partner. When you add a partner to a step pattern you learned alone (an Absolute Pattern), there may be an period of 'adjusting' to the dance. This is where the name comes from.


As a dance, Alegrías is a solo flamenco dance or musical form performed by a woman. An Alegrías has a rhythm consisting of 12 beats.


Allegro is a musical and dance term that translates from Italian to "fast" or "quick." In the context of dance, particularly in ballet and other classical dance forms, "allegro" refers to a segment of a dance piece or choreography that is characterized by fast and lively movements. Allegro movements often involve jumps, leaps, quick footwork, and dynamic combinations of steps.

Allegro is contrasted with "adagio," which is a slower and more lyrical section of a dance, and "andante," which is a moderate tempo. In ballet, allegro movements are essential for showcasing a dancer's agility, precision, and ability to execute rapid steps with grace and control. Allegro sequences are typically found in various dance forms, including classical ballet, contemporary dance, and even some traditional folk dances.



Alignment is the relative position of your bones in various positions. Alignment is very important for health and safety in dance. Having incorrect alignment can result in injury. As an example, we've all heard that sitting up straight helps to keep your spine "aligned". Slouching can cause back ache and longterm it can cause injury. In dance the principle is the same. Keeping proper alignment in dance will help to keep a dancer safe and more effective in their routine. Having good Body Placement (See Placement) will often help with proper alignment.

American Rhythm

American Rhythm is a category of Ballroom Dance that along with American Smooth constitutes what is known as the American Style. American Rhythm is mostly danced (competitively) in the United State and Canada. Examples include the Cha-cha, Rumba, and many more.

American Smooth

American Smooth is a category of Ballroom Dance that along with American Rhythm constitutes what is known as the American Style. American Smooth dance allows partners to separate. That is they do not need to remain in closed position and are allowed to perform individually while with partnered. Examples include the waltz, tango, and foxtrot.


An Anchor (sometimes referred to as the Anchor Step) is typical in West Coast Swing and refers to the final rhythm measure and dictates the position the dancers will end with.


Arabesque is a classic position in ballet where the dancer stands on one leg which can be straight or bent, while the working leg is fully straight extending long behind the dancer either on the floor or in the air.

Arm Styling

Arm Styling is the position and movement of your arms that reflect the character and style of the dance.


Attitude is a classic position in ballet where the dancer is standing on one leg with the other lifted, to the front or back. The leg in the air is bent at the knee so that it forms roughly a 145 degree angle. The position is usually done with one arm raised.

Example of Attitude


Back Spin

A Back Spin (backspin) is a spin done on the upper back by swinging your legs across your body or using your hands to create spin. When the spin begins, the legs are typically tucked into the chest to increase the spin speed. Back Spins are popular in breaking or breakdancing.


Balboa is an eight beat swing dance done in the closed position. It's generally faster paced (200 BPM and up to 320 BPM) but can be performed slower than 200 BPM.

Ball Change

A Ball Change is a dance step that involves shifting weight from the ball of one foot to the flat of the other foot. This could be a step back on the left ball and rock back to the flat of the right.


A ballerina is a female dancer in ballet. The Prima ballerina (first dancer) is the leading role ballerina.


Ballet is a classic artistic theatrical dance performed to music with precise steps and gestures. Classical Ballet is characterized as a graceful and light fluid movement which implements the use of pointe shoes. Classical ballet originated in Renaissance Italy and established its present form during the 19th century.


Ballon translates roughly to "bounce" or "ball". It means to jump but to do so with the appearance of lightness and little effort. Ballon jumps should look as if the dancer is bouncing like a ball. A Ballon is a jump about aesthetics and quality, it's about looking light and graceful. It's not a jump about height but a jump about elegance. In dance the term ballon is often associated with ballet but can be used in other dances.

Ballroom Dance

Ballroom dance is a formal social dance with a partner. Ballroom dances today are done socially as well as competitively. Ballroom dances evolved from European folk dances such as the waltz, Latin American dances such as the tango, rumba, and cha-cha, and dances of 20th-century origin such as the foxtrot and quickstep. Competitive ballroom dancing has been separated into two categories, American Style and International Style.


The Bamba is an old folklore foot-tapping dance from Mexico danced in ballrooms.


The Beat is the pulse of the music and is considered a rhythmic unit of time. The beat is often defined as the rhythm listeners would tap their toes to when listening to music.

Blank Rhythm

A Blank Rhythm is an even rhythm that has no weight changes.

Body Flight

Body Flight is the concept that a dance performed at it's highest level becomes almost meditative or spiritual for the dancer or dancers. The idea being that at this level, the dance consumes all things to the dancer and nothing else exists, just the dance. It could also be characterized as extreme focus in ones craft.

Body Lead

Body Lead is when the dance leader initiates or leads the dance through their body and not with their arms pushing or pulling. It is the body that is creating the force or weight transfer.

Boogie Woogie

Boogie Woogie is genre and dance style that was developed by African American dancers in the 1870s and became popular in the 1920s. Many parts of Boogie Woogie have been adopted into many mainstream dances today.

Bossa Nova

Bossa Nova is a Brazilian music / dance that is like a combination of jazz and samba. In fact it was born as a fusion of Jazz and Brazilian music. Bossa Nova was developed and popularized in the 1950s and 1960s.

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

The BPM or Beats per minute refers to the speed or tempo of the music measured in beats (see beat).


A Break in dance refers to a change of direction. Breaks can be simple or more complicated by adding turns (break turn).

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Break Ending

The Break Ending is a break and then end to a specific dance. It's generally an end to a dance with some additional movements.

Break Turn (Spot Turn, Switch Turn, Military Turn)

A Break Turn is executed by the dancer taking two steps with a 1/2 turn occurring between the steps in the opposite direction of the Forward Foot (on the first step).

turn turns


A Brush is the brushing of the ball of the foot (or toe tap) against the floor. Typically this is done in a forward or side direction and is a common tap dancing move. A Brush is similar to a scuff, however a scuff allows the heel of the foot to brush the floor as opposed to the toe. Repeating this brushing on the floor during movement forward and backward results in what is called a Shuffle in tap dance and other dances.

Buffalo Step

A Buffalo Step (sometimes called a jump shuffle jump), is a tap dance step that involves jumping and landing on one weighted foot then taking the unweighted foot and performing a shuffle (or two brushes). After performing the shuffle, you jump off of the weighted foot and land on the other foot. At this point a single step in complete and you can repeat by jumping again onto the other foot. This tap dancing step can be done while traveling sideways or done in place.

Watch The Buffalo Step



C-Frame is the body shape maintained by dancers for Swing dance and Lindy hop. This frame is bent over forward and allows the leader to communicate the moves to the follower.


A cabriole is a step in dance, particularly in classical ballet, that involves a jumping movement where one leg is extended into the air while the other is beaten against it or "clapped". The term "cabriole" comes from the French word for "caper" or "capriole," reflecting the lively and energetic nature of this step.

cabriole caper capriole

Can Can

The Can Can originated in the 1800's in France. A defining characteristic of this dance is that women kick their legs high into the air, often revealing their stockings under their dress. Which at the time of origin was quite racy.


A Canon is a choreographic movement in dance where dancers perform the same movement at different times.

The Carlton

The Carlton is a dance defined by arm and pelvic swings combined with horizontal sidesteps. There are other moves that go along with this dance as well.

The main dance is performed by standing with feet at shoulder width apart. Next, swing both arms together to the left and up and then down and to the right and up. When you swing your arms to one side you take a sidestep in that direction. The Carlton was created by Alfonso Ribeiro and originally debuted on an episode of the television sitcom, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air".

Watch The Carlton

Cha Cha

The Cha Cha is a dance that evolved from the Mambo. It was a triple mambo and eventually became it's own dance, the Cha Cha.


A chassé (pronounced sha-SAY) is a dance step commonly used in various dance styles, including ballet, jazz, and ballroom dance. The term "chassé" means "to chase" in French, and the step itself involves one foot chasing the other. It is a traveling step that moves horizontally across the dance floor and is often used to transition from one position to another or to create a sense of flow and continuity in a dance routine.

Chasses are often used as a linking step to transition between other steps or to add dynamics and speed to a dance routine. They are a fundamental element in many dance sequences and play a crucial role in creating the fluidity and rhythm of a dance performance.

chasee chaseé


Choreography is the art of arranging steps and movements (often in dance) into a complete performance.



Dance is an artistic expression and rhythmic movement performed by a person or many people often to music. Dance can be used as a way of communicating a story or expressing emotion, it can be entertainment, it can be a sport (competitive), and it can be a social event.

Dead Arm Dance

The Dead Arm Dance is characterized swaying your arms side to side across your body with the appearance that they are asleep or 'dead'. It is performed by standing and twisting your torso at the hips and leading with your shoulders back and forth in rhythm. Allow your arms to sway along with the movement as if they were asleep or dead.

Delayed Double Rhythm Unit

A Delayed Double Rhythm is a common double rhythm in west coast swing. It is used for most ball changes.

Delayed Single Rhythm Unit

A Delayed Single Rhythm is commonly seen on anchors as a touch-step or a ronde (sweep, land on the upbeat). In other words, there is not a step on the first count, but on the second, as the first step is 'delayed'. On the first count anything else can be performed other than a step, for example a kick out.

Dependent Step Pattern

A Dependent Step Pattern is a pattern of dance steps that 'ends' in such a way that the dancer doesn't have a final end step (opposite foot free). The idea is that the foot is free to continue the next step as the beginning of a new step pattern.


A Dig is a foot move where a free foot is raised with the toe pointing down. Next, the heel is brought down to touch the floor. There isn't typically a weight change to the foot that is 'digging'. A Dig is often started on the 1st beat of a rhythm.

Dig Swivel

A Dig Swivel is a dig (foot move) followed by a swivel (or turn) on the balls of the feet.

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A Dip is movement in dance between two people where the lead lowers the follower with a hand in the back (and sometimes lowers to one knee).

Disco Dance

The word Disco is used to describe both a dance and a music style. Disco Dance is a style of dance that is typically done to disco music. It became largely popular in the 1970's in nightclubs and gained mainstream popularity with the release of the movie, Saturday Night Fever.

The sound of disco music is typically a four-on-the-floor beat with a variety of instrumentation including: syncopated basslines, strings, horns, electric piano, synthesizers, and electric rhythm guitars.

Disco dance began as a loose and highly improvised style. As disco evolved certain dance moves became popular and developed into mainstays for what is now most referenced as disco dance. Some common disco dance moves include: the Bump, the Penguin, the Funky Chicken, the Boogaloo, the Watergate, the Bus Stop, the Robot, and the Hustle.


East Coast Swing

East Coast Swing is a type of swing that is often a 6 beat step pattern but can sometimes be 8 beat step patterns.

Elements of Dance

The Elements of Dance are the pieces or components of all the dances movement. For example, the space, time, body, energy, etc.


Elevé is a ballet term that translates to, "elevated". An Elevé is performed by rising up on the balls of the feet, demi-pointe or en pointe.


An Embellishment in dance is simply a method of adding detail to a move in a way that accentuates that move. An embellishment can be simple like a hand gesture or something more complex like a kick.


The Ending is quite literally the last steps or position at the end of a dance.


Endurance is the ability to perform an activity (like dance) for a duration of time that may be difficult. Endurance is necessary to perform at a high level throughout an entire performance and avoid fatigue. Having poor endurance can have a negative effect on performance which could result in poor technique or injury. For this reason, proper cardiovascular training and rest are vital.

Even Rhythm

An Even Rhythm contains movements of equal duration. An Even Rhythm Unit would be zero or an even number of weight changes / steps.


The Floss

The Floss or Flossing (aka the backpack kid dance) is a dance move characterized by standing with your feet shoulder width apart, then swinging your arms side to side across the body and behind the back. When moving arms to the left across the body both arms are in front, when the swing begins to move across the body to the right the left arm swings behind the body while the right arm remains in front. Alternate which arm is behind and which is in front on each swing from left to right. Sometimes hip motion is added to the swinging of the arms.

The Floss was created by Russell Horning also known as "the backpack kid" and has become famous for being used in a number of tv shows, commercials, and the video game Fortnite.

Watch The Floss

Fifth Position

In ballet, Fifth Position means to stand with toes pointing outward, legs crossed and feet touching. The heel of one foot is placed beside the toe of the other foot. This position is very similar to the Fourth Position in ballet with the difference being that the feet are touching.

Fifth Foot Position

In Swing, Fifth Foot Position is a foot position where one foot is in position of the other, toe to heel. The toe of one foot touching the back heel of the other.

First Position

In ballet, First Position means to stand with heels together and toes pointing out in opposite directions, square with the shoulders.

First Foot Position

In Swing, First Foot Position is a stance or foot position where the feet are simply together. There can be varying degrees to how much the toes are turned out from one another. In general this position is simply standing with both toes turned out from each other up to 45 degrees.


Fouetté is a French term that translates as "to whip" or "whipped" and is used to describe a classical ballet movement. A Fouetté can refer to one foot whipping in front of or behind the other foot, or when the body quickly shifts from one direction to another.

Fourth Position

In ballet, Fourth Position means to stand with toes pointing outward, legs crossed and feet NOT touching but separated by one foot. This is very similar to the Fifth Position with the main difference being that the feet do not touch.

Fourth Foot Position

In Swing, Fourth Foot Position is a foot position and movement that is best described as a forward step. It is beginning in First Position and then simply moving one foot directly forward.


The Foxtrot is a social / ballroom dance in 4/4 time that has American origins. The Foxtrot is similar to the Waltz and is a foundational dance for other similar social dances. It's performed with 2 slow steps followed by 2 quick steps.


Frappé is a classical ballet term meaning "struck" or "to strike." A frappé is when a dancer uses the pointed foot of the working leg to swipe (or "strike") the floor in quick succession.

Free Foot

A Free Foot is a foot with no weight applied on it. It's freely available to move in air, do a knee raise or kick, or perform another dance move such as a dig.


Gangnam Style

Gangnam Style is a dance that was created and popularized by Korean Pop Star Park Jae-sang (PSY) for his hit song of the same name, "Gangnam Style". The dance involves pretending to ride a horse while holding the reins and occasionally spinning a lasso with one hand and shuffling into a sideways gallop.

Watch Gangnam Style


In ballet, a Glissade is a gliding or sliding step movement. One leg is brushed outward and then weight is shifted to this leg, then the other leg moves out similarly to meet it.

Grand Jeté

A Grand jeté is a type of split leap in ballet, where the dancer jumps from one foot, performs a front split in air, and then lands on the other foot.

jump jumps leap leaps


The Griddy is a dance where you take very small but pronounced skip-like steps alternating on each foot, leaning somewhat on the back of your heels. When you land on a weighted foot you motion a tap up and down to the ground with the free foot. When your free foot taps the ground, you begin to bring the free foot back up and then hop or skip the weighted foot into the air at the same, both feet in the air. When you come back down, you switch feet and repeat the move with the other foot.

The movement is a fluid 1, 2 foot movement and commonly performed incorrectly as a 1 foot skip. The foot movement is the primary dance but there are a number of hand and arm movements that can be done along with it to embellish. For example, swinging your arms, pointing your fingers, throw your stick up, and throwing up B’s. The dance was created by Allen Davis a former Landry-Walker High school football player. It has become a popular end zone celebration dance in the NFL (it is considered Justin Jefferson's signature touchdown dance) as well as college football.

Watch The Griddy



Haka is a ceremonial dance originating from the Māori culture and the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand. Haka is performed by a group, which can be both men and women. The dances can involve strong energetic movements, jumping, foot stamping, and shouting or chanting. Haka dances could be performed for many reasons from celebrations to war.

The Haka used as a war dance has been popularized by the New Zealand rugby union team, the All Blacks since 1905. The All Blacks rugby team performs this dance before a match as their opponent watches. It's viewed as a way for the team to celebrate their heritage as well as intimidate the opposing team.

Heel Lead

A Heel Lead is a step forward where the heel of the foot hits the floor first, then the rest of the foot, finally by transferring weight to this foot.

Heel Pivot

In ballroom dancing, a Heel Pivot is a turn made on the heel after a step back. The turn occurs on the heel of the foot that stepped back while the other foot is in the air following the step back. It is like a Reverse pivot but your feet end up together rather than in a step position.

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Heel Pull

A Heel Pull is a type of Heel Turn (or step back and turn) where the foot is pulled back and to the side of the other foot. Footwork begins on the heel, then inside edge of the foot, finally the whole foot.

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Heel turn

In ballroom dancing, a Heel turn is a step back and turn on the heel of the supporting foot. The step begins as a back step, toe first touches the floor followed by heel. Next, the turn begins and the free foot moves to be side by side the weighted foot. Weight should then shift to the other foot.

turn turns


A Hop is a move performed on one foot. That is, the same foot that used to rise off the floor is used to return to the floor with. There is no weight change.


Hula is a traditional Polynesian / Hawaiian dance. It is a visual dance and tells a story with the hands, arms, face, and hip swaying.


Inside Foot

The Inside Foot is the foot that is closest to your partner when you are standing side by side or facing away in other directions, not directly facing.

International Style

International Style is a style of ballroom dance throughout the world. The term is used to separate it from American Style. International Style is separated into two categories, Standard Ballroom (or simply Standard or Ballroom) and Latin. Standard Ballroom includes dances like the Waltz, Tango, and Foxtrot. Latin includes dances like the Cha Cha and Samba.

Interpretive Dance

Interpretive Dance is a form of Modern Dance that is designed to communicate feelings and emotions of a story. It's commonly thought of as a performance art form.



A jeté is a type of leap or jump in ballet in which the weight of the dancer is transferred from one foot to the other. There are several variations of the jeté some of which include the grand jeté, jeté battu, and tour jeté.

jete jump jumps leap leaps


Jitterbug is a dance style associated with various types of Swing dances such as Lindy Hop, Jive, and East Coast Swing.


Jive is a lively, energetic, fast paced dance form that is similar to East Coast Swing.


A Jump in dance is much like a hop but the intent is to rise higher off the floor. Like a hop you would still return to the floor on the same foot, and there is no weight change. (See Leaps)

leap leaps jump jumps



A Kick in dance can be any rapid movement with a free foot in air, in any direction. It could be simply from the knee or with the extension of the full leg. Kicks are often used as an Embellishment in dance.


Kinesthetic or Kinesthetic Awareness is a term that relates to having awareness of one's body position and movements in space.



A Landing is the way in which a dancer lands and carries themselves as they return to the ground after a lift, leap, hop, or jump.

land landing leap leaps jump jumps


To Lead in dance is to act as the director of movements in the dance with a partner. Leading takes place both in improvisational dance and in choreographed routines.


There are a number of different leaps or jumps in dance. Different types of dances have varying leaps. One way to define a leap from another has to do with the feet (or single foot) used to jump as well as used to land. To simplify things, one might consider that there are only 5 possible options with regard to the feet used in a leap.
They are as follows :

  • Two feet used to jump, and landing on both feet.
  • Two feet used to jump, and landing on one foot.
  • One foot used to jump, and landing on the same foot.
  • One foot used to jump, and landing on the other foot.
  • One foot used to jump, and landing on both feet.

jump jumps leap leaps

Left Turn

A Left Turn is simply a counterclockwise turn, (a turn to your left).

turn turns


A Lift in dance can mean a couple of things. It can mean simply raising oneself up on to the ball(s) of ones foot or feet. A Lift can also be a dance movement where one dancer raises their partner into the air. This is typically done with the grounded partner's hands on the hips of the airborne partner. A Lift of this kind is also common in figure skating.

Lindy Hop

Lindy Hop is a style of Swing dance. Its origin is traced back to ballroom dancing in the 1920's.



Mambo is both a dance and a genre of music. As a dance, it is similar to the Rumba or Salsa. It is like Swing but set to Cuban rhythms and jazz. Mambo first started in Cuba around the 1930s.

Military Turn

A Military Turn is another name for a Break Turn. It is executed by the dancer taking two steps with a 1/2 turn occurring between the steps in the opposite direction of the Forward Foot (on the first step).

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Modern Dance

Modern Dance is a style of dance that was born in defiance of structured or traditional dance (like ballet for example). This defiance of structure or traditional dance steps makes Modern Dance difficult to define. A dancer's style can cover a wide scope of moves influenced by many other dance styles.

However there are discernible characteristics of Modern Dance. For example, in Ballet dancers are meant to appear "light" and "weightless", while in Modern Dance dancers are encouraged to use gravity and their bodies to convey "feelings" and emotions. This characteristic helps to define Modern Dance, that is that a dancer is encouraged to be expressive of their inner feelings and emotions. A dance can be interpretive in that regard, and it can be improvisational versus a traditional choreographed dance.


The Moonwalk is a dance move that simulates taking forward steps while moving you backwards. It was created by none other than the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. To perform this move you place weight on one foot that is flat on the floor. Then you position the other foot in front like a step and curl up the foot so that your toes are the only part of your foot contacting the floor. Next, switch weight to the foot in front and apply pressure on the toes and push yourself backward. Leave the other foot flat and allow it to slide on the floor backwards.

When you have pushed and slid the distance of a step, bring the front foot that is on your toes down and flat against the floor. Now bring the back foot (that had previously slid back) up on your toes and repeat the process. Note : No feet ever come up off the floor! This is more or less a sliding motion. Various embellishments can be made to enhance the illusion of walking, like swinging arms, etc.

Watch The Moonwalk

Movement Pattern

Also called a dance pattern, a Movement Pattern is a movement or movements made from elements of dance (Movement Phrases) that are repeated and are recognizable.

Movement Phrase

Also called a dance phrase, a Movement Phrase is a series of movements linked together in a distinct choreographed pattern.

Movement Sequence

Sometimes called a dance sequence, Movement Sequence is a series of Movement Phrases linked together.



A Narrative is a choreographed structure to a dance that tells a story and communicates that story through the entirety of the dance.


A Natural or Natural Turn is a turn to the right in a clockwise direction.

turn turns


Open Position

Open Position is a dance position with a partner. With Open Position there is less focus on being connected by the arms to your partner. Dancers may break or turn away from one another, they may only hold by one hand or none at all.


Orientation in dance is the direction in which the dancer is facing. This can mean the dancer's entire body is oriented in a direction. The orientation determines what the audience sees. For example, if a dancer is kneeling and oriented (facing) toward the audience, the audience cannot see the dancer's feet.

Outside Foot

The Outside Foot is the foot furthest away from your partner at any time when not facing directly or directly away.

Outside Hand

The Outside Hand is the hand furthest away from your partner at any time when not facing directly or directly away.


Paddle Turn

A Paddle Turn is a turn performed in any direction by way of anchoring all weight on one foot and using the other foot as a 'paddle' to move and spin the body in a turn.

turn turns


Passé is a French term for "gone by" or "passed." In ballet, a Passé is a movement where one foot passes in back or in front of the knee of the supporting leg. It can also refer to one leg passing the other in the air.


Pathways are patterns created in the air or on the floor by the movements of a dancer.


A Pattern is a repetition of movements in a dance. For example, the steps in a dance are often in a pattern.

Pee-wee Herman Dance

The Pee-wee Herman Dance (Tequila) was created by Paul Reubens (also the creator of the character Pee-wee Herman). The dance is characterized by standing with one leg a step in front of the other, bending at the knees, swinging both arms in unison from the front of your body to the back, and turning your head from the left to the right as you change arm positions. A subtle up and down motion like a bounce without leaving the ground is also sometimes present during arm and head changes.

During the dance, you can take a step forward or backward to change your leg and foot positions. For example standing with your left foot back and your right foot forward, performing the dance moves a few times then taking a step forward with your left foot and leaving it now in the forward position and your right foot now in the back position. The dance also has a few other arm movements left and right then mimicking a dive motion that is done at random. The Pee-wee Herman Dance was popularized in the movie Pee-wee's Big Adventure where the character performed the dance to the song Tequila in a biker bar.

Watch The Pee-wee Herman Dance

Phrase / Phrasing

A Phrase is a measure or measures of music like a melody. Phrasing is fitting dance and movements to that melody. Phrasing may be varied and adjusted by the use of lead-in steps designed to put dancer on a varying beat.


A Pirouette is at least one complete 360 degree turn of the body on the point of the toe or the ball of the foot. Typically, a pirouette is done on one weighted foot with the other foot raised near the knee of the weighted leg. Although a one footed pirouette is common, both feet can be used.

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In dance, a Pivot (sometimes called a Pivot Turn) is a turn in which weight is on one or both feet and the turn comes from the body rotating on a vertical axis running through the center of the body. The feet swivel or turn with the body in this turn and the turn does not exceed 360 degrees.

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Placement (sometimes called a Body Placement) is a term used to describe the way in which a dancer holds or carries their entire body. It is about presentation and positioning and encompasses the way the arms, legs, head, body, hips, and so on are held and placed. Good Body Placement assists in performance of dance technicals and movements. A dancer with good Body Placement for a dance will be more able to execute the fundamentals of the dance. Having correct Placement also contributes to proper alignment.


Plié is a ballet term that is used to describe when a dancer is bending at the knees. A grand plié is a full bending of the knees, while a demi-plié is a half bending of the knees. The bend should occur with the legs turned out from the hips and the knees open and over the toes. Plié are typically done in 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th positions in classical ballet, both at the barre and center in classes. Correct use and development of a plié is essential to a dancer's movement and technique.



Quickstep is an International Ballroom rhythm that is a 4/4 time and is basically a faster Foxtrot.



Relevé is a French term that literally means "raised up". The term is used in classical ballet and describes a movement in which the dancer rises on to the toes (demi-pointe or a fully en pointe). The Relevé is an essential step in ballet and is often taught at the beginner level of ballet.

Right Turn

A Right Turn is simply a clockwise turn, (a turn to your right).

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Rondo is a choreographic form of three or more sections or themes that alternate from the main theme to the next theme, back to the main theme, and then proceed to the next theme, always returning to the main theme. For example, if A was the main theme and B, C, and D were other themes or sections the order would look like this : ABACADA.

Ronde de Jambe

A Ronde de Jambe is a manuever or movement where by the dancer or performer moves a leg in a circular motion. This can be performed on the ground or in air.


A Routine is another word for a dancer's complete choreography created for a piece of music to be performed.


The Rumba is a Latin dance which originated in Cuba and is considered to be a romantic dance as it was originally a dance performed for marriage. One defining characteristic of the Rumba is hip swaying that occurs over a standing leg while taking small steps with slightly bent knees.



Salsa is a Latin Rhythm / dance that has it's origins in Cuba and jazz music. Salsa is supposed to be a 'hot' flavored dance and is largely associated with mambo style dance patterns.


The Samba is a Latin Rhythm and dance that originates from Brazil that is in 2/4 time. Samba can be broken down into two different dances. One is the traditional Brazilian Samba which can include a partner but is also performed solo at carnival. The other is simply a lively modern ballroom dance that resembles the traditional Samba.


A Scuff is a forward foot swinging kick-like movement where your heel brushes the floor and is typical in tap dance. It is performed by bending your leg back behind you at the knee, then swinging forward like you would a kick motion. When your foot passes the floor you allow your heel to "scuff" and strike the floor as it passes to a forward kick. A Scuff is like a brush which allows your toe to brush the floor instead of your heel.


A Scuffle is the repeated back and forth kicking motion of a leg bending at the knee. While moving back and forth you have your heel strike and brush the floor moving forward, and your toe do the strike and brush on the way back. This is different from a Shuffle which is toe strikes and brushes only. Both the Scuffle and the Shuffle are common dance and tap dance moves.

Shuffle (Tap Dance)

A Shuffle is the repeated back and forth kicking motion of a leg bending at the knee. While moving back and forth you allow your toe strike and brush the floor on the motion forwards and backwards. In a Scuffle, you would allow your heel to strike and brush the floor on the movement forwards. The Shuffle and the Scuffle are common dance and tap dance moves.


Sissonne is a ballet term that means to jump from both feet and split the legs "like scissors" in the air prior to landing. The sissonne is a common ballet leap or step and is typically taught in intermediate ballet classes. There are many forms of sissonne in ballet with minor variations to the definition. Varying forms of sissonne may include landing on one or two feet and in different positions (third positions, etc.). The key is that a sissonne will always begin the jump by pushing off the floor with both feet.

jump jumps leap leaps

Social Dance

A Social Dance is a category of dance that involves a social function and couples dancing, like ballroom dancing. In a Social Dance the dancing is intended to be social and participation is the focus, unlike a performance.

Split Leap

Split leaps are type of jump in dance where the dancer splits their legs while in air before landing. Examples include the grand jeté, stag split leap, and straddle split leap.

jump jumps leap leaps


A Step is simply a single change of weight. This could be from both feet balanced to all on one foot, or from one foot to another.

Straddle Split Leap

A straddle split leap is a type of jump in dance where the dancer performs a side split (or middle split) with their legs while in air before landing. The leap is performed by jumping off one foot, performing the split in air, then landing on the other foot.

jump jumps leap leaps


Swing is an upbeat style of dance that includes a number of more popular and specific dances from the 1920's to the 1950's. Swing dance style developed around swing music (a mix of swing jazz, rock and roll). Some examples of more specific types of Swing dance are Lindy Hop, Balboa, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Jitterbug, and Jive.


Syncopation is the concept and art of performing accents in music that do not occur directly on the main beat. In dance, Syncopation allows a dancer to be more creative and unique with the dance.



The Tango is known as both an International Ballroom and American Ballroom dance. Having originated in Argentina, the Tango is also an Argentine dance. The dance is typically done in closed position with a partner, but leaves room for breaks. Hips and legs are held close and for the most part, bodies must be in constant contact.


Tempo can be thought of as the speed of the music and the speed of the motion of a dance. Tempo is usually measured in Beats Per Minute or BPM.

Third Position

In ballet, Third Position means to stand with one foot in front of the other, parallel, toes pointing out away from each other, and with the heel of the forward foot touching the arch of the back foot.


A Turn is a step and rotation of the body on a vertical axis which results in changing the direction previously faced. There are many types of turns and they all may have slight variances that make them distinct to their dance style.

turn turns


Up Beat

In music an Up Beat is an unaccented beat preceding an accented beat. In dance, it's typically the 2nd beat of a 4/4 time and the 2nd and 3rd beat of a 3/4 time.


Unison means to simultaneously perform the same action. In dance this would mean to have 2 or more dancers performing the same choreography at the same time.



A Variation in dance is a small change to a traditional style of dance or movement. For example, the Viennese Waltz could be considered a variation on the traditional Waltz.

Variation (Ballet)

In classical ballet, a variation refers to a dance that is performed as a solo.

Viennese Waltz

The Viennese Waltz is a classical style ballroom waltz. It's defined by having smaller steps, smoother turns, and a faster pace than the waltz.



The Waltz is a ballroom dance with 3 beats in a 3/4 tempo with an accent on the first beat. The Waltz is performed with a partner, that is it's a couples dance where the pair turn together repeatedly around the dance floor.


In dance, Weight is simply your body weight and is used to describe steps and other dance movements. For example, a single weighted foot would mean that you are supporting your entire weight on one foot. A weight change would mean that you shift the weighted foot from one foot to the other.

West Coast Swing

West Coast Swing is a dance style derived from Lindy Hop and is performed with a partner. It's characterized as an elastic looking dance due to its extension-compression technique (push together and pull away from each other while remaining connected at the arms). West Coast Swing allows for improvisation and both open and closed positions. Typically West Coast Swing uses 6 and 8 beat step patterns.