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If this is the look you give your instructor when they throw out a fancy ballroom term, then this post is for you!

As a beginner, these ballroom dance terms can be intimidating if you have never heard them before.  Even more advanced dancers may not have a complete understanding of what every term their instructor uses. So, let’s break down some common terms you will likely hear throughout your dancing career.  


  • Alignment is the directions that the leader uses to navigate the room in the traveling dances.  

  • Amalgamation means taking several steps in a dance without doing a basic in between.  This is a great way to learn how to dance more fluidly.   
  • Chasse is the side together side motion that you would use in dances like Bachata and Cha Cha.  
  • Dance position for social dances is how the leader and the follower hold each other.  Here are pictures of instructors Laz and Sam demonstrating the following dance positions!


Closed position

Promenade position

Shadow position

Outside partner position

Open position


  • Foot positions includes the balletic positions and how they move.  First position is considered a “neutral” position since your feet are straight under your body.  The other positions, however, can move either forward and back or side to side like a compass. Here is instructor Sam demonstrating for the five ballet foot positions:

First position

Second position

Third position


Fourth position

Fifth position
















  • Footwork is specifically what part of your foot is touching the floor.  Some examples for what it could refer to is the toe or the ball of the foot.   
  • Line of dance – If you look at the diagram under the “alignment” definition, you will see that this is the label for the arrow that goes all the way around the room.  It is the counterclockwise movement around the floor that dancers in traveling dances like Waltz and Tango follow. This is very important as it minimizes collisions on the dance floor!  
  • Poise is leaning forward over the balls of the feet for Latin dances like Rumba, or leaning back over the heels for Ballroom dances like Waltz.  
  • Slows and quicks – If you are interested in reading a more in-depth explanation, check out our Part 2 of our music theory blog post!  In short, slows take up two beats, and quicks are one beat. 
  • Sway refers to stretching to keep your balance during rotation in Waltz, Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz. This is what makes the dance look and feel voluminous and like it takes up a lot of space instead of being static.  
  • Syncopation –  This topic is also discussed in more detail over on our “music theory part 2” blog post!  Syncopation in dance refers to when there are two steps in one beat, like in Cha Cha or, as the name suggests, Syncopated Hustle.  

Now that you know all of these terms, contact us to schedule a lesson and impress your instructor with your knowledge!  

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