Dance Techniques


Jan and Leonie dancing Latin American

Ballroom Technique


Tango Technique 


Dance Exercises





Ballroom Technique



The position of the feet in relation to the room.

Use facing or backing when the feet and body are in line.

Use pointing when the foot is in a different alignment to the body.


Amount of turn

Measure between the alignment of the feet positions.



The correct distribution of the weight of the body when dancing.


Basic Figure

A figure that is considered to form a part of the basis of a particular dance.



When the moving foot is being taken from one open position to another open position, the word Brush is used to indicate that this foot must first close up to the fool supporting the weight of the body, but without the weight bring changed.



A figure of three steps in which the feet are closed on the 2nd step.


Chasse Turn or Closed Turn

A turn that is danced with a Chasse or with the feet closing on the 2nd or 3rd step.

Eg Chasse Reverse Turn


Contrary Body Movement (CBM)

A body action.

The turning of the opposite side of the body towards the moving foot, either forward or backward.

Generally to initiate turn.


Contrary Body Movement Position

A foot position where the foot is placed across the front or back of the supporting foot, either in front or behind.

To maintain body line.


Fallaway Position

A position used in advanced variations in which the man and lady move backward in Promenade Position.



A completed set of steps.



Foot work refers to that part of the foot that remains in contact with the floor.

Waltz, Foxtrot and QS refer to Heels and Toes (where Toe includes Ball).


Heel Pivot

A turn on the hell of one foot only, in which no change of weight occurs. The Heel Pivot might be termed a "compact Chasse,” and is used instead of a Chasse in the last part of the Quarter Turns in the Quickstep.


Heel Pull

This is a type of Heel Turn used by the man in some backward Natural Turns. The feet may be kept apart instead of closed, and the weight is more forward than in a Heel Turn.


Heel Turn

A turn on the inside of the stepping foot, the closing foot being kept parallel to it throughout. The weight is transferred to the closing foot at the end of the turn. It should be noted that, although the major part of the turn is on the heel, it is actually commenced on the ball of the foot. This will occur naturally and is shown in the charts.



A figure or part of a figure in which progression is temporarily suspended, and the weight retained on one foot for" more than one count.



A part of a figure in which the moving or turning of the body is checked, while the feet remain almost stationary.


Line of Dance

The normal line of forward progression along each of the four sides of the room.


Natural Turn

A turn to the R.


No foot rise

No foot rise occurs when stepping back on the inside of most turns when the heel of the supporting foot will remain in contact with the floor until full weight is taken on to the next step. The rise is felt through the legs and the body only.


Open Turn

A turn in which the third step passes the second step instead of closing. The lady's counter part to a man's Open Turn is usually a Heel Turn.


Outside Partner

A step taken forward by a partner on the right of both the other partners feet.

In such steps the bodies must keep close contact, the outside movement being achieved by stepping rather across the front of the body. The partner's step would be described "Partner Outside," and must be taken across the body at the back. Thus all such steps are placed in C.B.M.P. In some advanced variations the outside step is taken on the Left side of the partner.


Partner in Line

Partner Square

Square to Partner


Terms used 10 indicate that the couple are standing in the normal dance position, i.e. facing each other and with the man's and lady's feet approximately opposite each other.




A turn on the ball of one foot, the other-foot' being kept in front or behind in C.B.M.P.



The position of the body in relation to the feet.


Promenade Position

The position in which the man's R. side and the lady's L. side are kept in close contact, and the opposite sides of the bodies turned out to form a "V” shape. The feet are usually turned to the same direction as the body.



A term used in timing steps. A quick step always occupies half the time of a slow step.


Reverse Turn

A turn to the L.



The word "Rhythm" is used in a broad sense, and usually refers to the accented beats of the music which recur regularly and give character to the music.

Rhythm, however, is something much more subtle than this. It might be likened to colour. There are basic colours from which the expert can produce an infinite variety of beautiful shades. Similarly we have basic rhythms in all our dance music. The expert musician will produce numerous subsidiary rhythms from these, thus giving the music an entirely different character, which the expert dancer will endeavour to express in his dancing.


Rise and Fall

The elevation and lowering that is developed through the feet, legs and body.


Side Leading

Taking the same side of the body either forward or backward with the moving foot.



A turn taken over two feet

eg spin turn, outside spin



This usually refers to one movement of the foot, although from a "time value" point of view this is incorrect. In the case of a walk forward or backward, for instance, the time value of the step is not completed until the moving foot is drawn up to the foot supporting the weight, ready to commence another step. Thus, when instructed to rise at the end of a step the dancer should not commence to rise until the moving foot is passing the foot supporting the weight of the body.



Sway normally is the inclination of the body towards the inside of the turn.

Eg steps 2 & 3 of a Waltz Natural Turn



 A turn on the ball of one foot.



This indicates the speed of the music. The approved speeds for the standard dances are:

Waltz               30 bars a minute   

Quickstep         50 bars a minute

Foxtrot            30 bars a minute   

Tango              33 bars a minute

VW                  60 bars a minute


Time Signature

The number of beats in each bar of music.



A varied and more advanced figure, additional to the basic figures.



Tango Technique



To understand the commencing position, stand with feet together facing wall, then keeping feet flat turn ¼ to L, at the same time slip RF 5-8 cms (2-3 inches) back so that the toe of the RF is approximately level with the instep of the LF.


The hold is similar to the hold in the moving dances, but is more compact:

1.  The Man holds the Lady slightly more on his R side — although care must be taken not to exaggerate this position.

2.  The Man's R hand will be placed slightly further across the Lady's back — the tips of his fingers reaching slightly beyond the Lady's spine, the line of the forearm sloping slightly downward. The Lady's L hand will be placed on the Man's back just under the Man's R armpit and her R hand will be placed in Man's L hand.



The differences in the Tango Walk as compared to the other dances are:-

1.  There is no Rise and Fall.

2.  The knees are held very slightly flexed but tone is maintained in the leg muscles.

3.  Because of the Tango position, the LF Walk is taken in CBMP and the RF Walk is taking R side lead. In a similar way he RF Walk back is taken in CBMP and the LF Walk back with a L side lead. The Walk will normally curve to L

4.  The feet are slightly lifted and placed on each step — rather than gliding to position as with other dances.

5.  The feet are moved with a sharp or staccato action and the back fool on a Forward Walk is delayed as long as the music will allow. The Backward Walk is danced with a similar action.

6.  When stepping forward in CBMP on LF and taking into account the curve to the L it is important that the L heel is placed on, not across, the line of the RF. When stepping back in CBMP on RF. in a similar way the R toe is placed on, not across, the line of the LF.

7.  Whenever the Man steps back LF with a L side lead, the R heel will be released as RF commences to move back into the following step. At the commencement of all other back steps the front foot will be released. When the Lady steps back on either fool the front toe will be released.


 Dance Exercises


Following / trust

Ladies dancing with heads to the left and eyes closed


Ladies and men dancing by themselves

Balance / Lead

Ladies and men dancing with one arm (R to L)

Ie good for ladies balance and man’s lead

Isolation / Side leads

Stand in front of a mirror and rotate body from side to side. Feet do not move


Dance by yourself. Turn to left half a turn, heel toe and stop on the foot. Go back and turn (heel toe) and stop on that foot. Make sure feet are held in CBMP and are touching the floor during the turn.

As you improve speed the interval between the turns.



Stand on a step with ball of foot and use ankles



Latin Dancing Exercises



Stand on a step with ball of foot and use ankles


Cha / Rumba


Figure 8 with the hips, but keep heels on floor and keep knees straight.