|BASIC DANCE INFORMATION
Congratulations! You're about to embark on a marvelous, fun-filled journey! Ballroom and
Country dancing, including Two Step, Waltz, East and West Coast Swing, Cha Cha, Samba and
lots of line dances are now in vogue all over the country. The basic patterns are easy to
master. With practice you'll be dancing after just a few quick lessons.
Following are a series of terms used in both ballroom and country dancing. You should be
familiar with these as this knowledge will make learning quicker and easier. Much of this
information will also be introduced to you during the early stages of instruction.
LINE OF DANCE
(or Direction) is always counterclockwise around the dance floor. One very nice feature of
country dance emporiums is the large size of their dance floors. This offers dancers
plenty of room to move comfortably. However, with the popularity of country dancing,
almost every place is crowded with enthusiasts. There are three distinct groups of dances:
One group moves around the floor counter-clockwise and is referred to as
"Smooth"; (such as the Two-Step, Waltz, etc.) Another group is danced
more-or-less in a "Spot" (the Swings, Cha Cha, etc.) and "Line" dances
where it is unnecessary to have a partner. You will be taught to perform your smooth dance
patterns in the proper line-of-dance.
The occasional "bump" into another couple, or the stepping upon your partner's
foot, is often unavoidable. However, should this occur, you should always apologize to the
other party. RIGHT OF WAY: The partner moving forward (to the other partner moving
backward) always has the "right-of-way." If you step upon the partner moving
backwards, it means they did not correctly "reach" with the toe in order to get
out of your way. The partner who was stepped upon should learn better toe-reaching
technique and apologize to the partner moving forward. Later in this material we will also
discuss common-sense courtesies for the gentlemen as well as the ladies.
is trying to learn too much too soon. As a result, many attempt to learn too many step
patterns without a complete understanding of the Basics, and the techniques involved. In
the overall grand scheme of things, PATTERNS ARE THE LEAST IMPORTANT PART OF LEARNING TO
BECOME A GOOD DANCER! Most people take dance instruction in order to learn enough to go
out socially and have fun. Our primary purpose with these dance classes is to HAVE FUN as
we instruct you in the proper use of Basics. For those of you who wish to progress
further, we also offer Intermediate and Advanced material. Only the most dedicated
devotees of dance ever think about entering dance competitions, especially in the
beginning. With that in mind, we'd like to tell youup frontthat far more
important than Step Patterns are the following:
Timing, Balance, Posture, Poise, Partner
Relationship, Footwork, Leading, Following, Smoothness, Costuming and Pattern
Amalgamation. As you begin your instruction, you first are introduced to the individual
step patterns for each dance. However, you can see by the list above that they are last in
importance to overall good dancing enjoyment. Next is a short definition of each of those
is the single most important part of dancing. Timing should never be confused with Rhythm.
Every human being is born with rhythm...heartbeat, breathing, walking, running...all these
are rhythms. Timing is the ability to move through a variety of step patterns to various
types of dance music and STAY IN TIME WITH THE MUSIC AS IS PLAYS! Music for each dance can
be played very "slow", "medium", or "fast". Very
seldomif everdoes recorded music begin at one speed (or tempo) and then speed
up or slow down...the possible exception being slow songs that fade out at the end.
Being able to dance to the correct tempo of
the music, regardless of its speed, is what truly makes the movements "feel
good." As you will soon see, Country Two Step, while somewhat similar to standard
ballroom Fox-trot, never changes and is always counted Quick, Quick, Slow, Slow. This is a
total of six beats of music per pattern. Below are some additional terms you need to
commit to memory to make your learning easier.
Good balance is a most important asset to good dancing. Like walking, you dance on only
one foot at a time. Good dancing can only be achieved by the development of good balance.
We will give you several exercises to aid you in the development of better balance. Unlike
walking, dancing is done with a more erect bearing see Posture). The proper placement of
the hands and arms are equally important. They should remain up with the elbows lower than
the shoulders on a slightly downward angle. This "upper body line" needs to be
retained at all times whether you are in closed or open position to your partner. Think of
a tightrope walker. Their arms are up and holding a long balancing pole.
Good dancing requires that both partners should have good posture at all times. This
requires keeping the head and chest lifted, the spine straight and the weight
center-forward over the balls of the feet. Nothing can wreck the appearance of a dance
couple faster than poor posture, regardless of how many step patterns they do or how well
they perform otherwise.
is the confidence you gain from dancing in time to the music, with a big smile on your
face, good posture and an understanding of Partner Relationship.
Every time you step onto a dance floor you become a "performing artist." You are
creating a "show" for everyone sitting around the sidelines watching. You and
your partner are now a "team" and each must understand their own respective
"role." You must know how to properly "relate" to one another as you
move around the floor (see Lead/Follow).
As stated previously, you do not "dance" like you "walk."
Understanding the correct footwork is an equally important phase of learning. When moving
forward, always lead with the heel of the foot, instantly transferring the weight to the
ball of that foot. When moving backwards, always lead with the toe extended from the
ankle, reaching from the top of the thighnot the waist or hips. You will be shown
how and where to turn the foot either outward or inward in order to make smooth turns,
pivots and spins.
One of the most often misunderstood terms is "leading." A man should merely
"indicate" through the top part of his body (and occasionally through his arms
and hands) where he wishes his partner to dance. The lady must likewise know enough of her
own part to dance the movement effortlessly. The gentleman should never push, pull, shove,
jerk or otherwise intimidate the lady. For a gentleman to correctly and properly lead his
lady, it is far more important for him to know WHEN to lead. If you lead too quickly or
too late, the lady will have difficulty following and she looks (and feels) bad on the
Good men dancers are a very rare breed.
They've spent time, effort (and in some cases a lot of money to purchase dance lessons) in
order to learn and gain confidence and self-assurance. They are in constant demand
everywhere they go! If you want to be a popular, sought-after dance partner, develop the
correct lead for every pattern you learn! You will quickly learn that no two lady partners
are ever the same. Even though you go through your "routine" of patterns
virtually the same way with each lady, it will "feel" different every time you