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Aiming: Positioning your body so that it is offset by 1/2 body distance to your own left, with your right foot pointed in between your partner’s feet.

Arch Turn: The Arch Turn is so named because that’s what it looks like when you join raised hands with a partner and turn underneath them. The turn can be performed by one or both partners. This is also known as an Outside Under Arm Turn.

Close: Bringing one foot together with the other with a transfer of weight from the moving foot to the supporting foot.

Cross: A forward or backward step in which one foot is drawn in front of or behind the other foot.

Follow: The attempt to figure out what the leader is doing and move in the indicated direction. Traditionally, the woman is the follower and the man is the leader.

Free Foot: The foot which is not supporting the body’s weight. It is “free” to move.

Hesitation: A balance step equivalent to a “wait” or pause for at least one count which is frequently used in the Waltz.

In Place: A shift of weight from one foot to the other with no directional movement.

Inside Underarm Turn: An Inside Under Arm Turn, also known as a Loop Turn, involves turning under the arm which is drawn across the midline of the body, forming a “loop.” Inside Under Arm Turns proceed to the left for women and to the right for men, though the latter is less common.

Kick: A quick movement of the foot forward, backward or to the side without a transfer of weight.

Lead: Guidance generally initiated by the hand, fingers, arm or body to move the couple in the desired direction. Traditionally, the lead is delegated to the man, while the follow is delegated to the woman.

Lean: Forward body pressure by the man preceding forward motion indicating that dancing is about to begin.

Line of Dance: An imaginary counterclockwise circular line indicating direction of dance.

Loop Turn: A Loop Turn or Inside Under Arm Turn can be performed by the man and woman. However, the man’s Loop Turn is more advanced in nature and will be reserved for a more advanced course. For the woman, a Loop Turn is a full turn to her left with her right arm drawn across the midline of her body, forming the appearance of a loop with the joined hands of the couple.

Non-progressive: A moving dance which is space-limited. For example, jumping is a “non-progressive” movement because you stay in the same place. The East Coast Swing is an example of a non-progressive dance.

Outside Under Arm Turn: An Outside Under Arm Turn involves turning under the arm which is extended to the side, forming an “Arch” over the head of the turner. The main outside under arm turns proceed to the right for women, and to the left for men.

Pivot: A turn made on the ball of the foot. If you are doing a right pivot, your body will turn right. If you are doing a left pivot, your body will turn left.

Progressive: A directionally moving dance. For example, walking is a “progressive” movement. The Waltz and Fox Trot are examples of progressive dances.

Quick: A quick step (q) takes 1/2 the time of a slow step (S). Each “quick” step gets 1 count of music. Quicks are generally danced in pairs.

Rise and Fall: Motion specific to the Waltz in which the partners lower and raise their bodies as they dance, creating a down-up-up movement.

Rock: A movement typically used in the Swing in which weight is transferred between the feet without a change in position. The feet may leave the ground but they always return to the same spot. For example, a back rock involves a step taken backward (Bd) on the ball of the foot, followed by a rock forward in-place (Fd IP) on the other foot.

Slow: A slow step (S) occupies the same amount of time as two quick steps (q). In other words, each slow step gets 2 counts of music. Slows also are often done in pairs (eg, Fox Trot - SSqq)

Supporting Foot: The foot which is “supporting” the weight of the body.

Touch: Bringing the feet together to “touch” without transferring weight to the moving foot (as opposed to a “close”).

Transfer: Shifting weight from the supporting foot to the free foot at the end of a step.

Uglies: Gawky appearance created by awkward foot positioning when a pivot is not used.

Under Arm Turn: Under Arm Turns can be broken down into two types: Outside Under Arm Turns and Inside Under Arm Turns.

Weight Change/Shift/Transfer: Movement in which the weight of the body goes from one foot to the other.

This marks the end of the Ballroom Basics category. Click here to return to the Ballroom Basics main page. If you would rather return to the Online Dance Tutorial main page to take a look at the Waltz, Fox Trot and Swing, click here.


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