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The Eight Main Directions in Ballroom Dancing

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Definitions of Terms Used in Ballroom Dancing

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In ballroom dancing there are eight main directions in the ballroom space. It is important for every ballroom dance student to learn these directions because these direction terms are used by dance teachers to describe body positions and movement directions. In particular, in international style ballroom dancing, these direction terms are used in the definition of every figure in the standard syllabi. These eight directions are sometimes shown in a figure called a dancer’s compass. Most progressive dances such as the waltz, the foxtrot, and the quickstep proceed around the ballroom in a counterclockwise fashion. Most students have heard terms such as “moving line of dance” or “facing back line of dance.”

The eight directions are 1) Line of Dance (LOD), 2) Back Line of Dance (BLOD), 3) Toward Center, 4) Toward Wall, 5) Diagonal Center (DC), 6) Diagonal Wall (DW), 7) Back Diagonal Center, 8) Back Diagonal Wall. See the diagram and watch our free video to obtain a better understanding of these terms.

Notice that these directions can be used to describe facing positions and movement directions. Thus a person might be described as “facing diagonal center,” but moving so as to be “backing diagonal wall.”

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