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Dance Terminology

Glossary of Dance Terminology  Compiled by Don Deyne

This list was compiled using glossaries form other sources, most notably Country Dance Lines, R K Publishing, Joyce Warren, and an organization who's President has asked that I remove it's name, since some people think I'm saying it's their glossary. This is MY glossary, meaning, it's the terms I use in my classes and in my step descriptions. - Don Deyne

Country Time Dance Lines NOTE: This glossary was taken from Don Deyne's old web site which is no longer on line  with his permission. The descriptions, definitions, and comments herein are Don's. The use of Don's glossary is an attempt to help standardize terms among those of us who write the dance steps and who try to interpret dance steps written by others.

ACROSS

Movement across the Line of Dance or 
Movement of one leg in front of the other  

ALIGNMENT

The position of the body with relation to the Line of Dance

FLOOR
ALIGNMENT

Forward, Forward Left Diagonal, Forward Right Diagonal, Center or Left, Wall or Right, Reverse LOD, Reverse Left Diagonal, Reverse Right Diagonal

PARTNER ALIGNMENT

The symmetric alignment of a couple

AMALGAMATIONS

(aka CLUSTERS or COMBINATIONS)
A group or sequence of dance figures or patterns

AND

1  Half of a Quick count (& 1 or 1 &)
2  A Call such as "ready and"
3  Indicates simultaneous action
Note: In Don's step descriptions, the word "and" notes simultaneous actions, while the figure "&" indcates movement on a half beat of music

APART

1  Movement away from partner or one foot away from the other
2  Placement of feet apart from each other (2nd position) 

BALANCE STEP

A step in any direction, followed by a Close (no weight) and a Hold

BEHIND

A step with the free foot crossing behind the weighted foot 

BODY MOVEMENTS

GESTURE:  Any movement not connected with supporting the body weight
STEP:  The transfer of weight from one foot to another
LOCOMOTION:  Movement of the body from one place to another    
JUMPING:  Movement without a point of support 
TURNING:  Changing position in a circular fashion

BOOGIE

The free hip lifts and moves in a circular motion in the direction of the weighted foot 

BOOGIE ROLL

1. Similar to Cuban Motion, using a forward and backward movement
    of the pelvis
2. A circular movement starting in the pelvis region, moving through the
    diaphragm, chest and shoulders 

BOOGIE WALK

To move the free leg by lifting the hip and stepping forward

BREAK

1 A change or reverse of direction
2 See
Rhythm Break 

BRUSH

(aka SCUFF)
To brush, sweep or scuff the foot against the floor 

BUMP

Dancers bump hips to the side or the buttocks of their partners

CENTER

Individual: Balance point of the body mass - located near the diaphragm
Couples:   Center point between partners

CHARLESTON

aka Black Bottom aka Montana Kick
A 4 count pattern of steps and kicks
(Kelly Gillette (and thus, NTA) advocates that a Charleston must start with a left step)
Step forward left
Kick forward right
Step back right
Point the left toe back

She may be right, but what would we call it when it starts on the right foot. I personally call it a charleston emphasizing which feet are doing what.

CHAINÉ

A 360 degree turn, feet together in first position, changing weight

CHASE

A figure where one partner pursues the other

CLOSE

To bring the feet together without a change of weight

COUNT

A call used to count the rhythm of foot movements and weight changes, or to count the beats of music

CONTRA BODY MOVEMENT (CBM)

A movement of the body into or from 3rd or 5th foot position which turns the opposite hip and shoulder toward the direction of the moving leg 

CUBAN MOTION

Hip motion initiated by using the inside edge and ball of the foot during weight transfer 

CUP AND PIN

The man holds his left hand with the palm facing inward, thumb over the lady's fingertips. The lady curls her right fingertips over the man's left fingers. The hands are held approximately at the lady's waist level. There is resistance needed for many changes of positions and turns. 

DIAGONAL

45 degrees out from the center of the Line of Dance (direction)

DIG

To touch the ball or heel of the free foot to the floor with a strong emphasis 

DRAW

(aka DRAG aka SLIDE)
To bring the free foot slowly together to the weighted foot 

EXTENSION

To stretch or extend parts of the body 

FAN

Circular motion of the free foot
TOE FAN: Toe swings outward, pivoting on heel, and back
HEEL FAN: Heel swings outward, pivoting on ball of foot, and back

FAN KICK

High, straight leg kick where the extended leg makes a circular sweep 

FLEX

To bend slightly or relax a portion of the body Example  the flex of the knee

FLICK

Sharp, quick kick backwards with a pointed toe and a flexed knee

FOOTWORK

The use of the five positions of the feet in dancing
FIRST POSITION Feet together, toes forward and slightly turned out CALLS  Home, Center, Together
SECOND POSITION Feet parallel, shoulder width apart
THIRD POSITION Heel to instep, or ball to heel 
Used in rock steps, shuffles, polkas, triple steps, and basic swing
EXTENDED:  Feet apart, heel pointing to instep
FOURTH POSITION Walking step, forward or back, and rock steps
FIFTH POSITION Heel to toe   Often used in a rock-step 

FOOT PARTS

Toe, Inside edge of toe, Outside edge of toe
Ball, Inside edge of the ball, Outside edge of the ball
Heel, Inside edge of heel, Outside edge of heel
Flat, Inside edge of the flat foot, Outside edge of the fiat foot

FOLLOW THROUGH

The non-support foot passes by the weighted foot before changing directions

FRAME

Dance posture for the purpose of maintaining balance and appearance

FREEZE

A stop, no movement

GRAPEVINE (aka VINE)

A continuous traveling three-step pattern to the side with crosses behind and/or in front 

HEEL SPLIT

(aka WING, SCISSORS, PIGEON-TOE, BUTTERFLIES, ETC.)
Feet together with weight on balls of both feet.
Move heels apart on count 1, and together on count 2
FAST HEEL SPLIT takes one beat of music and is counted as "& 1"

HOLD

A count to describe a designated time before taking another step

HOME

Original starting place

HOP

A spring into the air from one foot and landing on the same foot

HOOK

(aka CROSS)
The free foot moves as a pendulum in front of or in back of the weighted foot and is kept off the floor  The toes pointing downward

HOOK COMBINATION

A 4 count move using (1) heel (2) hook (3) heel and (4) together

ISOLATION

Movement of one part of the body independently of the rest

JAZZ BOX

(aka JAZZ SQUARE)
Well there's plenty of fight over this one, but I call a jazz box several ways (then explain which one I'm using either in class or in my step description) it may not be right, but it works for me. A couple of examples:
Step forward left
Step right across left
Step back left
Side step right

or:
Step right over left
Step back left
Side step right
Step forward left
 

JUMP

Spring into the air off both feet and land on both feet 

KNEE POPS

(aka HEEL STOMPS)
Lift both heels off the floor by bending the knees
Return the heels to the floor 
Takes one beat of music and counted as "& 1" 

LEAD

A non-verbal communication that initiates and continues movement 

LEAP

A transfer of weight from one foot to the other. 
Push off with a spring and land on the ball of the other foot,
letting the heel come down  Bend knee to absorb the shock

LEFT

Refers to the left foot, hand, hip or a direction

LOCK

A tight cross of the feet in 1st or 2nd position

LOD - LINE OF DANCE

Counterclockwise around the dance floor

LOOP TURN

An underarm turn to the left for the lady and to the right for the man 

LUNGE

A weight transfer to a bent leg with the other leg extended

PIGEON TOED

A pattern traveling sideways bringing the toes together leaving the heels apart, then bringing the heels together leaving the toes apart

PIVOT

A traveling turn executed with thighs locked and feet apart in extended fifth position

PREP

A lead-in move or step a set up used as a preparation for a turn or a change of dance position 

QUICK

A step or weight change that takes one beat of music 

RESISTANCE

A balanced force and counter force between two bodies

RHYTHM BREAK

To leave the natural rhythm of the pattern 

RIGHT

Refers to the right foot, hand, hip or a direction

RISE AND FALL

Coming up on the toes by bracing the ankles and stretching the spine then lowering to the heels
BODY RISE
The body rises by bracing the leg muscles and stretching the spine then relaxes to a natural stance

ROLL

The indicated body part circles right or left 

ROUND DANCE

All types of social dances were once called round dances. Today round dance refers to couples or groups of three or more, doing routine patterns dancing counterclockwise or clockwise around the dance floor

SAILOR STEP

A triple step dance pattern accomplished by leaning in the opposite direction of the crossing foot (weight stays centered over lead foots original position)
EXAMPLE:  Leaning toward left
(1) Step left behind right
(&) Side step right
(2) Side step left (to original position) 

SCOOT

(aka SKIP)
(NTA) Slide of the weighted foot (or feet) forward, backward or sideways.
(ME)  A hitch with movement of the weighted foot

SHUFFLE

A triple step similar to a Polka step with no lilt (says NTA)
EXAMPLE:  SHUFFLE FORWARD LEFT
1  Step forward left
&  Bring the right foot up to the heel of the left foot
2  Step forward left
Note:  From a technical stand point, a shuffle would be smooth, a polka would have lilt (bounce), and a cha-cha would have Cuban Motion.  This may be of little or no concern to the social dancer especially the beginner. 

SHIMMY

Alternating shoulder movements forward and backward

SLIDE

A movement in any direction 
Stepping on one foot and then draw or slide the other foot up to the weighted foot 

SLOW

A step or weight change that takes two beats of music

SPIN

A 360 degree turn on one foot

SPLIT

The feet move apart with the weight evenly distributed over both feet

SPOT

A step in place that does not progress in any direction 

SPOTTING

Focusing on a fixed point through a turn 

SYNCOPATED SPLITS

Feet move apart separately and are brought back together 
Counted as "& 1, & 2"

STEP

The transfer of weight from one foot to another

STEPS

WALKING - SLOW Usually takes two beats of music
RUNNING - QUICK (Half of a Slow) takes one beat of music
SLIDE (left or right)  May be taken to a Slow or Quick count
PIVOT - A movement of the feet, turning on the ball or balls of the feet
BALANCE - A step, together, hold 

STROLL

A forward diagonal step followed by a cross behind (lock) and another step forward

STRUT

Moving forward, place the heel then the ball of the foot on the floor for counts 1, 2

SUGAR FOOT

Alternating swiveling feet in the direction of the un-weighted foot
Taken in place or traveling 

SWAY

A tilt of the chest to the side, without lowering the torso. Stretching from the side upwards 

SWING

The free foot is raised and moved forward, backward, sideways or crosswise 

SYNCOPATED PATTERN

Any variation of a defined dance pattern

SYNCOPATED RHYTHM

To step between the down beats 
Any rhythm pattern which uses accents other than the down beat 

TURNS

OUTSIDE
A turn to the right for the lady and left for the man,
INSIDE
A turn to the left far the lady and right for the man
FREE TURN
To turn independently without any body contact
CHAINÉ
A turn with feet together in 1st position with a weight change
3 STEP TURN aka CONGA
A 360° turn in 2nd dance position, taking three weight changes and ending with a touch or point. Often called a turning or rolling vine, because of it's common usage as a variation within a dance
PADDLE TURN
A turn either left or right, using a series of ball changes with 3/4 of the weight staying over the turning foot
PIVOT 
A 180 degree turn taking two weight changes to complete. Done in extended 3rd or 4th dance position with the thighs locked
TRAVELING PIVOTS
Pivots danced down LOD in extended 5th position
PIVOT TURN aka MILITARY TURN aka BREAK TURN
Transfer weight to the forward foot then turn 180° in the opposite direction of the forward foot. Return weight to original foot
SPIN
A 360° turn on one foot
TWIRL
A square dance term for turning the lady

VARIATIONS

Any movement of footwork that is different from the original footwork.  Personal note:  If you change the count or flow of the dance IMHO it's not a variation. I won't say it's wrong, Oh what the heck, YES I WILL

WEIGHT CHANGES

BALL CHANGE
A change of weight from the ball of one foot to the other foot
CROSS
To move one foot over the other, either in front or behind
KICK, BALL, CHANGE  May also be done as a Heel, Ball, Change.  ex:
1 - Kick forward right
& - Step down on ball of right
2 - Change weight to left
IN PLACE, RECOVER
Return the weight to the original supporting weighted foot
ROCK
Two weight changes with the feet apart, taken in any direction
SWITCH
Shifting weight from one foot to the other in a rapid sliding movement 
TOGETHER
To bring the feet together with a change of weight

WEIGHTED LEG/FOOT

aka SUPPORT LEG/FOOT
The foot/leg bearing the weight of the body. The foot you're standing on.