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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


tango - Characterized by stunning, sharp head-turns and provocative figures this Latin dance ranks in popularity among ballroom dancers only behind the waltz and foxtrot.
See the Tango Learning Area for more information >>

Theater Arts/Cabaret Division - A division at DanceSport events that involves dramatic lifts and drops usually performed by strong, highly trained dancers requiring unusual flexibility and balance.

third position - Heel to instep, or ball to heel. Used in rock steps, shuffles, polkas, triple steps, and basic swing.

time signature - The sign of figures at the beginning of a musical composition or section or movement indicating the number and kind of beats to the bar (e.g. 3/4 indicates 3 beats to the bar, with the number 4 signifying that the basic beat is a quarter note).

top line – A posture and frame concept. The horizontal line that runs from elbow to elbow and through both shoulder blades.

traveling pivots - Pivots danced down LOD in extended 5th position.

Triple step - Triple steps are popular in swing dancing. The Triple Step is a three step sequence taken on two beats of music. If the first step of the triple step is taken on count 1, the second step is taken on the half beat between counts 1&2, and the third step is taken on count 2. The step timing is often called out as 1&2. Usually the triple step is two quick steps and one slow, called out as "quick-quick-slow", or, using numbers, as "one-and-two.”
See 'Basic Steps in Ballroom Dancing' video >>

turns – Most turn types, including pivot turns, chaine turns, chasse turns, and spiral turns are shown in our free streaming video: Turn Technique in One Short Lesson.

two step (night club) - A simple dance danced to slow, romantic music.
See the Night Club Learning Area for more information >>
Also see our Night Club DVD dance videos >>

two step (Texas) - A fast traveling dance with many turns and normally danced to country music with a tempo range of 170-200 beats per minute. The basic step is like walking, except the timing is quick, quick, slow, slow.
See the Texas Two Step Learning Area for more information >>
Also see our Texas Two Step DVD dance videos

two step (triple) - Uses a progressive version of the triple timing swing basic and progresses around the perimeter of the dance floor in a counterclockwise fashion. Also called double two step, the shuffle or the Fort Worth shuffle.
See the Triple Two Step Learning Area for more information >>

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