Learning to dance well is itself quite challenging, trying to master dance terminologies can be frustrating.
But if a dancer is well acquainted with dance terminologies, it will definitely help in learning to dance well.
Below are some useful terminologies that dancers hear often during classes:
Formation dance is a style of ballroom dancing. It is pattern or shadow team dancing by couples in a formation team.
Team Peninsula Grace Dance Group doing a line dance number at the Bravo Dance Competition (BravoComp2011).
A line dance is a choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines en
or rows without regard for the gender of the individuals, all facing the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time.
Line dancers are normally not in physical contact with each other.
In contrast to line dance, there are in fact two distinct dance categories of round (circular) dance: 1) ethnic, folk or country dances;
2) dances that are more closely related to ballroom dancing.
Modern social round dancing is choreographed and cued (led) ballroom dancing that progresses in a circular pattern,
counter-clockwise around the dance floor. The two major categories of ballroom rhythm found in round dancing are the
smooth or international rhythms, such as foxtrot and waltz, and the Latin rhythms, such as cha-cha and rumba.
Round dancing differs from free-style ballroom dancing in that in most cases each round dance has been fully choreographed
ahead of time,
and a "cuer" or leader at the front of the ballroom tells the dancers, as they dance, what steps to do. As the music plays, and
just ahead of the beat, so the dancers have time to respond, the cuer names each dance figure in the choreography.
As a consequence, all the dancers on the floor are dancing the same steps at the same time.
Double Partner Dance (Trio)
This kind of dance involves dancing of three persons together: one man with two women or one woman with two men.
Since the 1980s, double partner dance is often performed in the Hustle, Salsa and Swing dance communities, in which experienced
leaders leading two followers.
Partner Performance Dance
(Left) A young couple doing the Bachata at Bravo Dance Competition (BravoComp2012). (Right) A young couple doing the Kizomba at a social dance party to ring in Year 2016.
Partner dances are dances whose basic choreography involves coordinated dancing of two partners, as opposed to individuals
dancing alone or individually in a non-coordinated manner, and as opposed to groups of people dancing simultaneously in a
Lead and Follow
A characteristic of partner dances is lead and follow, whether choreographed or freestyle.
During a dance, the leader initiates a move and let the follower execute
the move. With proper lead and follow, the dance will look very connected.
If the dancers each remember their move and execute the move on their own, then the partnership will look very disconnected. This is when a lot of "tugging" and "muscling" result between the partners.
A performer doing the Fan Dance during a Halloween party at Bravo. (2015).
Performance dance (also known as concert dance or theatre dance in the UK) is a dance performed for an audience. It is frequently
performed in a theatre setting, though this is not a requirement, and it is usually choreographed and performed to set music.
Social Dance Social dance
is a major category or classification of danceforms or dance styles, where sociability and socializing are the primary
focuses of the dancing. Social dances can be danced with a variety of partners and still be led and followed in a relaxed, easy
atmosphere. This compares to other major categories based on purpose, such as ceremonial dance,
competitive dance, erotic dance, participation dance, or performance dance.
Many social dances are partner dances. In fact, quite often when speaking about social dances, ballroom or other partner dances
come to mind. However it is natural to include in this category such groups of dances as circle dances, line dances,
novelty dances, or simply club dancing in solo.
Car of CARnHAL is leading a participatory Rabbit Dance to ring in Year 2016
As a result of the great popularity which ballroom dancing is enjoying, it is necessary to evolve a form of dance that
could express the rhythm and yet could remain "on the spot".
Take Foxtrot as an example,
a form of the dance that can express the slow syncopated 4/4 rhythm and yet can remain "on the spot" has been developed.
This does not mean that the "traveling" is dropped, but the "on the spot" dance does provide a means of enjoying the music
in a background which large numbers of people can afford and enjoy.
The "on the spot" dancing is known
appropriately as crush, then rhythm dancing. It is now called "social" dancing and possibly this conveys its purpose and
limitations: it would be anti-social to attempt to stride around a ballroom crowded with dancers, to dance with only one
partner when out at a party, or to be so engrossed with the performance of figures that any conversation is taboo.
West Coast Swing, as another example, is a slotted dance. Socially, it is considered good etiquette (particularly on a crowded floor) to
use a fixed slot, in order to allow dancing without incident.
Having danced the slot repeatedly, the couple "has a claim" on the area, and other couples usually cooperate and establish their own
slot parallel with the dancers.
Examples of social dances that may be danced in "round" fashion are bolero, cha-cha, foxtrot, hustle, jive, Lindy hop, mambo,
merengue, paso doble, quickstep, rumba, salsa, samba, single swing, slow two step, tango, two step, waltz,
Viennese waltz and West Coast swing.
Fad and Novelty Dances Fad dances are dances which are characterized by a short burst of popularity, while novelty dances typically have a
longer-lasting popularity based on their being characteristically humorous or humor-invoking, as well as the sense of uniqueness
which they have.
Novelty dances might include quirky and unusual steps, or have an unusual name. They may
also have been fad dances which have remained popular over a longer period. It is not necessary that they ever were fashionably
An example is the Youtube hit of Gangnam Style parody.
Rocket Rueda performing a Salsa Rueda at Bravo. (2012).
Salsa rueda, also referred to as casino de rueda, is a kind of round dance in which there is no complete pre-choreographed
sequence, and the dance patterns are called out in a random order.
Choreography Choreography is the art of designing sequences of movements in which motion, form, or both are specified.
The word choreography literally means "dance-writing" from the Greek words "χορεία"
(circular dance or 'choreia') and "γραφή" (writing).
The term "choreography" first appeared in the American English dictionary in the 1950s. Prior to this, movie credits used various
terms to mean choreography, such as "ensembles staged by..." and "dances staged by...".
To create a true (true to the music) choreography, a piece of music is selected by the choreographer, and the different steps or
figures are chosen to
fit the music. For example, if the music swells and pauses briefly, then a dance step that rises and stretches is put into that place; if there
is a little syncopation in another part of the song, then a quick step is inserted. Lifts, drops, dips and tricks are sometimes invoked
to fit the music where there are crescendos, syncopation or pauses.
The creation of a piece of choreography is
like engineering a machine (in fact, an art in itself), with every gear and lever in just the right place to give smooth and
When a musical number is very carefully choreographed, the dancers will be dancing "in" the music and the audience will be treated to enjoy the
Of course there are cases of poor choreographies in which the different steps or figures are poorly strung together without much regard
to the music. Even worse is dancers dancing off-beat; in this latter case, the audience will have a difficult time to either enjoy the
music, nor the performance.
In music, syncopation includes not only a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected in that they deviate from the
strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak, but also powerful beats in a pulse. These include a stress on a normally
unstressed beat or a rest where one would normally be stressed.
CARnHAL, performing to "I've Had the Time of My Life".