The Basic of Partner Dancing How to Learn and Master Ballroom Dance

Welcome to Learn and Master Ballroom Dance! Ballroom Dance can be lots of fun and great exercise as well. To get started, let’s learn some very basic concepts about how Ballroom Dance works. There are a variety of styles or dances inside the larger category of Ballroom Dance. We’ll cover six of the most popular dances in this course—Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Rumba, Cha Cha, and Swing to start. Within each of these specific Ballroom Dance is a set of figures. For example, in Rumba you will learn nine different figures. Each figure is made up of a series of steps or footwork. 

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Think of it like this, the individual steps are the letters. Combine these steps to form an entire figure—or a word. And on the Ballroom Dance floor, connect these words or figures to say what you want to say with that Ballroom Dance.

It’s also important to know that Ballroom Dance is split into two divisions: AMERICAN STYLE and INTERNATIONAL STYLE. 

We are going to focus on the American style, and within it are two different categories—SMOOTH DANCES and RHYTHM DANCES. Waltz, Tango, and Foxtrot are American Smooth dances; and R umba, Cha Cha, and Swing are American Rhythm dances.

Ballroom Dance Terms

In each dance is a fundamental figure called a Basic. A BASIC is a standardized group of steps, which together with other patterns, constitute the foundation of a Ballroom Dance.

Think of it as the default figure in every style of Ballrom Dance. 

FRAME refers to the position of the arms and torso while in Ballroom Dance position.

(Figure 1.1)

Finding Your Center ( Ballroom Dance )

To find the center or the core of your body, imagine a straight line running from front to back and another line from side to side through your body. Where the two lines intersect is your center or cor e. It’s not on the exterior of your body; rather, it’s found in the interior of the body. The objective when dancing is to keep your center or core aligned in the center of your body, ( Ballroom Dance ).

Body Alignment ( Ballroom Dance )

Body alignment refers to four blocks of weight: the head, the torso, the hips, and the legs. Your head should be sitting directly over your shoulders and ribs, which are situated directly over your hips and legs. ( Ballroom Dance )

Use your partner or a mirror to check your alignment and make adjustments accordingly. ( Ballroom Dance )

The Five Foot Positions ( Ballroom Dance )

Mark demonstrates the Smooth foot positions while Jaimee demonstrates the Rhythm positions. The difference is that in Rhythm dances the toes are turned out with heels together and in Smooth dances the feet ar e parallel.

Points of Contact ( Ballroom Dance )

The Five Points of Contact:

  1. Leader’s left hand to follower’s right hand
  2. Leader’s right hand on follower’s shoulder blade
  3. Follower’s arm on top of leader’s arm
  4. Follower’s hand on leader’s shoulder or arm 
  5. Body contact

Dance Positions ( Ballroom Dance )

POSITION refers to the placement of the two dancers to each other. The most fundamental Ballroom Dance position is the closed position. CLOSED POSITION is the normal hold where man and lady stand facing each other with their arms lifted together in frames. (Figure 1.12)

PROMENADE POSITION is a V-shaped dance position where both the man and lady move forward in the same direction. (Figure 1.13)

OPEN POSITION refers to any dance position where the man and lady stand apart or slightly apart, with one or two hands in contact. ( Ballroom Dance )

(Figures 1.14–1.15)

APART POSITION is when the man and lady have no body contact. ( Ballroom Dance ) (Figure 1.16)

RIGHT and LEFT SIDE POSITION is an open position where the lady is to the right or the left of the gentleman. ( Ballroom Dance )

(Figures 1.17–1.18)

Leading and Following Practice ( Ballroom Dance )

Here is a simple exercise to help you and your partner learn to respond to each other as you dance. Stand facing each other and touch palm to palm. Gentlemen, slowly walk forward toward the lady and then walk backward, using the center of your body to move. Ladies, you will wait a fraction of a second until you feel your partner move to take the step. ( Ballroom Dance ).

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