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Ballroom and Latin dance terms and definitions!

In this dictionary you will find definitions for dances and dance terms used on this site and in the ballroom dance community. Terms are sorted alphabetically, making this a handy reference for beginning and advanced dancers alike. Common Abbreviations are listed in their own section.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M
N | O |
P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Common Abbreviations


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.

Passepassé - A movement in which the pointed foot of the working leg is made to pass the knee of the supporting leg. The result is a figure “4.”
See 'Definitions of Dance Terms' video >>

picture line - A dance figure (e.g. Oversway, Contra Check) characterized by changing shapes in stationary position. Also known as line.

pirouette - A complete turn on one leg. The dancer usually goes round more than once. The dancer spots (see "spotting") in order to avoid becoming disoriented. Pirouettes are usually fast.
See 'Turn Technique' video >>

pivot turn - A 180 degree turn on the ball of one foot, performed in extended 3rd foot position with the thighs locked. A series creates traveling rotations, with 180 degrees of rotation per weight change.
See 'Turn Technique' video >>

polka - A moderately fast dance (200 beats/minute) in 2/4 time for couples, originating in Bohemia in the 19th century and becoming popular in Europe and in the U.S.A. The dance consists on "triple steps." The count is 1&2, 3&4.
See the Polka Learning Area for more information >>

prep - A lead-in move or step a set up used as a preparation for a turn or a change of dance position.
See 'Definitions of Dance Terms' video >>

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