Ballroom Dance Terminologies to Learn as Beginners

Ballroom Dance Terminologies to Learn as Beginners


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Ballroom dancing is such an amazing way to express one’s self.

You will find people from all walks of life somewhat interested in or full-on passionate about it.

Have you ever thought of actually enrolling in a dance class?

Perhaps you are currently enrolled in one, but you’re still trying to find your way through everything.

If yes, then this read would prove to be helpful to you.

Here, we will list down several ballroom dance terminologies to help you understand the world of ballroom dance better.

Top Ballroom Dance Terminologies

People who are fascinated by ballroom dancing could see the dance floor as their playground or school.

They see it as their playground in the sense that they can do what makes them happy.

On the other hand, some view it as their school in that they can learn greater things and discipline as they continue their practice.

However, those who are just starting their journey may find it quite confusing, especially since there are several dance terminologies that only those acquainted with this practice understand.

Here are some of the most common ballroom dance terminologies:

  • Amalgamation – mixing two or more patterns and movements.
  • Arm Styling – the movement or position of your arms that define style and character.
  • Axel – jumping while landing on the same foot.
  • Ball Change – the act of transferring your weight from one foot to another.
  • Break – refers to as simple as the music being stopped.
  • Body Rise – bracing your leg’s muscle with relaxation afterward.
  • Bow – bending slightly toward the waist as a sign of respect and acknowledgment.
  • Center – the balance point of your body.
  • Change Step – three progressing steps that are usually done with the basics of the box step.
  • Chase – the act of running after your partner.
  • Close – an act as simple as putting your feet back together.
  • Cuban Motion – shaking the hips while alternately bending and straightening the knees.
  • Curachas – side breaks.
  • Dancer’s Compass – dancers do need to follow some movement flows. This is actually the actual diagram where they study things out.
  • Dancing Position – standing directly in front of your partner only being a few inches apart.
  • Fan – one foot freely doing the circular motion.
  • Feet Apart – just the opposite of the Close position; separating both legs and feet.
  • Flex – probably the best word in the list, which means to relax a part of your body.
  • Floor Craft – leader’s showmanship that he can control the dance floor and everyone gets to follow his or her instructions.
  • Flick – an act where the pointed toe together with the flexed knee gives a sharp kick backward.
  • Foot Rise – using your ankle to elevate the body.
  • Frame – body posture, or the way you carry yourself.
  • Free Spin or Free Turn – free-spirited independent turn.
  • Freeze – to stop from any movements.
  • Holds – partners do hold hands.
  • Inside Turn – follower turns under the left or right arm of the leader.
  • Isolation – everything on your body is in a freeze position except for one part as per instructions.
  • Line of Dance – the dance floor is being dominated by the counterclockwise flow of movements.
  • Link Step – steps that combine two or more figures.
  • Lilt – soft and down movement of feet.
  • Lunge – transferring the weight of the bent leg to the other extended leg.
  • Natural Opposite – copying your partner’s exact movement except that you are doing it in the opposite direction.
  • Natural Turn – smooth right turn.
  • Open Break – both partners do break continuously.
  • Open Facing Position – both partners are standing distantly from each other while maintaining eye contact.
  • Promenade Position – imagine you and your partner stands on each of the ends of the letter V.

This term simply instructs them to meet at the V’s center point.

  • Reverse turn – a left turn.
  • Rise and Fall – from the words themselves, this means immediately reaching for your toes after the jumping.
  • Rock – Forward-backward-forward movement of the body while having the feet apart.
  • Shine – partners do the dance without physically connecting with each other.
  • Slide – sliding the free foot towards the weighted one.
  • Slow – taking more beats from the music.
  • Spotting – Ballroom might cause you dizziness with a lot of turns.

This is a technique that you focus on one spot until you can no longer do so. This would help with the dizziness.

  • Sway – body’s movement toward left or right.
  • Syncopate – injecting personal touch or creativity by adding or subtracting steps from the planned choreography.
  • Tap – tap the floor lightly.
  • Tempo – the speed of the music.
  • Variation – mutated steps derived from the common ballroom steps.
  • Wave – series of links far from your partner.

It may look like the longest list that you would probably ever have in a lifetime to remember, but mind you, that is just the beginning.

No world-class ballroom dancer ever reached where he is now if he never focused on studying the basic ballroom terminologies during his early career.

There would be times when you mix up these terminologies in your head.

Indeed, it can be overwhelming, but do not be frustrated.

You wouldn’t be the first person ever to feel the greater benefits that ballroom has to bring all because you chose to study ballroom dance terminologies.

As you go on, you’ll begin to see that your endurance, flexibility, creativity, and even social connectivity flourish.

You’ll be surprised that your health is in good shape too.

Finally, you’ll also notice that your discipline and concentration are higher than they used to be.

Final Words

It is fulfilling to know that your passion turned out to be the greatest wealth you’ll have, and that is health.

These ballroom dance terminologies do have its domino effect.

It continually affects every aspect of the dance, the dancer’s attitude towards things, and lastly, his performance.

Ballroom dancing is a passion that goes beyond.

Whichever phase you are now with your ballroom career, when you do know the real purpose behind why are you studying ballroom, then this list would feel like a little shorter and easier to remember.

You’ll suddenly see how fast you can catch up with the terminologies when you study it with action.

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9 thoughts on “Ballroom Dance Terminologies to Learn as Beginners”

  1. Joseph Stasaitis

    Really enjoyed your article on ballroom dancing.  Have done some but not for some time.  A few years back when I spent some time on a couple of different occasions in the Philippines I became aware of how much they enjoy ballroom dancing in their country.

    I had a lot of fun learning a bit of ballroom dancing and being around people who were really proficient dancers.  

    Thanks for the extensive list of terms.  Didn’t realize there were so many.

    You may have just inspired me to get back to the ballroom.  In fact, my fiancee has been expressing interest so the timing is great.  Thanks so much.

    1. Jonathan

      Mr. Joseph, I’m happy you enjoyed the read… Hope you and your girlfriend have lots of fun on the dance floor!… Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  2. Paul

    Hi Abraham, Really enjoyed this article. There is truly something fascinating about ballroom dancing. I’m afraid as I was growing up it wasn’t ‘cool’ at all so I steered clear. My loss. I had no idea of all the terminologies that existed and I got dizzy just reading them hehe. Maybe it’s not too late for me and it’s an excellent way of meeting people in a happy healthy environment.

    Dance on bro Paul

  3. Gracen

    Hi Jonathan! Ballroom dancing is indeed a great way of expressing one’s self and I love it so much. I had wanted to enroll in it but I found myself procrastinating. Your article has really re-kindle the zeal to get enroll in a dancing class. Thanks for taking your time to list the terminologies so that those starting out can be conversant with these terms. It will go a long way in making the ballroom dance interesting and less confusing. Thanks for your informative article.

  4. Seun Afotanju

    Ballroom dancing has seem to be one of the things I wish to do but I can’t, it’s has a lot of terminology and it’s won’t really be easy knowing them all but it is worth the try, anyone who want to go to the ballroom must understand these terms. I myself love going to the ball so I’ve got serious practice with these terminologies.

  5. Ayodeji

    Hi Abraham,

    What an awesome post! This is so chock full of useful information and dance steps that I can’t wait to dig deep and start utilizing the resources you have given me. Am a beginner so that counts a lot

    I must admit I find it insightful to read your blogging. Keep up the good work.

    1. Abraham

      Thanks for stopping by Ayodeji!… I’m glad you got value 😀

  6. Telma

    What good information you bring to us here. I always want to do ballroom. When I watching dance with stars, I can even blink with so much beauty and elegance. The lady seems that she is flowing holded by the arms of her partner. I just need to convince my husband now, and I don’t know how, but don’t worry, I will figure out.

    About the terminology that’s you talking about I definitely will have to learn every single one of the ones you present here.

    Like the word ” FLOOR CRAFT” for example, before you mention I had no clue of the signification of. As you said “There would be times when you mix up these terminologies in your head”, I could tell you that I am mixed up right now, but I am sure you practice I could learning with no time, especially if will be others using this terminology around me,

    Thank you for an amazing article you post.



    1. Abraham

      Hey Telma! Thank you so much for swinging by 🙂 I glad that we are able to provide value to you about the ballroom dance world!


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