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Definitions of Terms Used in Ballroom Dancing

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Definitions of Terms Used in Ballroom Dancing

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In this video we will provide the definitions of terms used to describe dance movements and dance positions.

Definitions of Dance Terms


Part 1: Definitions of Slow Movements and Poses

Attitude – Attitude is a pose on one leg with the other lifted and bent at approximately a 120-degree angle. Attitude may be executed to the front or to the back.

Arabesque – Arabesque is the position of the body when supported on one leg with the opposite leg extended behind the body. The arms may be held in various positions, one being to create the longest possible line along the body.

Developpe – The developpe is a movement in which the working leg is drawn up to the knee of the supporting leg and from there smoothly out to a position in the air, usually at 90 degrees (i.e., parallel to the floor).

Lunge – A lunge is a transfer of weight to a bent leg while keeping the other leg extended.

Passe – In going to passé position, the working leg is drawn up the standing leg to this position.

Part 2: Definitions of Speed Terms Used in Dancing

Adagio – Adage or in Italian “adagio” means slow, and in dance terminology, adagio means a slow movement. Thus adagio is not a pose or a figure but a reference to any slowly developing movement. Adagio movements may include poses and figures such as developpes, arabesques, and attitudes.

Allegro – Allegro is the opposite of adagio. Allegro means fast and in dance terminology, allegro means a fast movement such as a flick or a kick.

Part 3: Definitions of Dance Movements and Action Figures

Rond de Jambe – the literal translation is round of the leg. In this movement, a straight leg is swept in an arc.

Spotting – When spotting during turning movements, the dancer attempts to focus and re-focus upon the same stationary spot. In other words, spotting is focusing on a fixed point through a turn. Some folks say that spotting helps prevent dizziness. In any event, it is usually judged as aesthetically pleasing since it makes movements appear crisp and controlled.

Prep – A prep or preparation lead is a pre-lead that starts or signals the beginning of a new step or turn.

Part 4: Definitions of Terms Used in Theatrical and Exhibition Dancing

Lift - A lift is a theatrical, exhibition type of dance movement in which one partner lifts the other from the floor.

Drop – A drop is a theatrical type of dance movement in which the follower's head and torso are lowered below the knee level of the leader while at least one part of the follower's body remains in contact with the floor.

Drag - A drag is a theatrical type of dance movement in which the follower is scooted along the floor surface by the leader. The leader may effect the drag either through leverage or through compression.

Lean – A lean is a stationary figure where the weight of one partner is partially supported or counterbalanced by the other partner.

Slash or Slide – A slide is a movement where one partner transports the other, though the transported partner maintains contact with the floor.

Jete – a jete is a movement where the dancer jumps from one foot to the other. In the dramatic grande jete, the dancer performs a split while at the center of the leap.

Tour Jete – The tour jete is a jump from one foot to the other while performing a haf turn.

Plie – A plie is a lowering movement to a position approximating a sitting position. Notice that a ballet plie differs from a ballroom plie.

Attitude Turn – An attitude turn is a turn executed while in the attitude position.

Ride – A ride, sometimes referred to as a horse and cart movement occurs when one partner supports and rotates the riding partner on an axis.

Sitting Hen – Here we see a theatrical type of dance movement sometimes referred to as a sitting hen.

Pot Stirrer – Here we see a theatrical type of dance movement sometimes referred to as a pot stirrer.

Hop - Here we see a hopping movement, sometimes used in dance choreography to correspond with rat-a-tat-tat beat sequences.

Leverage Move – This is a generic term that refers to movements and figures requiring significant counterbalancing actions.

Split – A split refers to a figure where the legs are split apart (separated apart) usually to an angle of 180 degrees.

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