Advancing Communication in Dance
With particular focus on California’s official State
West Coast Swing
1998 - Latest
"a" COUNT -
(1) Professional DANCERS use the "pick
up" count, the "&a" that is danced before
the Downbeat. Musicians frequently speak of "Rolling
the Count" - or the “Dancers Count” ("&a1 &a2").
This is an upper level count for Musicians,
but a vital necessity, even at a BASIC level, for
serious dancers. (2) Most musicians are more
familiar with “Straight Count” - "1-e-&-a 2-e-&-a" -
where the "&a" comes after the beat.
Pit Musicians (those who play for professional
stage dancers) are more familiar with Rolling the
Count. (3) Professional Dancers usually learn to
"Roll" the Count very early in their training.
Once referred to as "Magic Count", because of the
difference it made in one’s dancing, Rolling Count
is part of the "Essence" of Classic West Coast
Swing. Rolling Count actually creates a more
rhythmic performance in ALL forms of Dance. It is an
essential foundation element in both Samba and
West Coast Swing.
(see "AND" COUNT, ROLLING COUNT)
ABSOLUTE PATTERN - ADJUSTED PATTERN -
A. ABSOLUTE PATTERN -
(1) An ABSOLUTE PATTERN is one that is danced
alone. It is the precise footwork that places the
"Center Point of Balance" (CPB) in the RIGHT
PLACE at the RIGHT TIME with the least amount
of expertise. (2) It is important to note
that the term "Absolute" does not refer to any
specific Style or Discipline of dance. It simply
represents any precise dance pattern that you wish to
do, danced alone, without the complication or
adjustment to a partner. (3) When any two people
dance together we are observing an Adjusted
B. ADJUSTED PATTERN -
(1) The "Adjusted" Pattern describes what
we see when any two partners dance together. The
"Adjusted" Pattern changes slightly from
the "Absolute" with every Partner. (2) Keeping
the Absolute Pattern in one's mind creates
better form for both partners. (3) The use and
understanding of Absolute & Adjusted Patterns in
the training of West Coast Swing dancers,
produces an excellence that is worth the effort. This
technique works for every dance, but is most
easily observed in Classic West Coast Swing.
When TEACHING, it is important to review the "Absolute"
pattern before teaching a variation. When Dancers copy
material from a Video, they are copying an adjusted
rather than the "absolute" pattern. Knowing, and being
able to apply, "Rules of Movement" & "Rules of Music"
allows a dancer to recreate an absolute
pattern, having only observed an
(also see: RHYTHM VARIATION, STYLE VARIATION)
(1) "Emphasis" or "Stress" on one particular
sound in the MUSIC. The most easily
recognized ACCENT in MUSIC is when the accent
occurs at the start of a new measure. However, it
is usually even more noticeable on the first beat of a
new phrase. (2) A Dancer can
ACCENT (emphasize) any part of any step pattern
in order to interpret what he hears or feels
in the Music. The dancer is not required
to accent every accented beat in the music. (3)
Accents are individual “Hits” that do not
interfere with the regular PULSE of the dance.
Accents are “in addition to,” but not “instead of,”
pulsing the dance.
(also see: CHARACTERISTIC, ESSENCE, PULSING)
ACROBATIC or GYMNASTIC maneuver -
(1) A term used for Swing Competitions (and other
dance forms) to describe those moves which are
sometimes illegal in some Classic or Traditional
(2) This includes dropping to one or both knees,
deep splits, backbends, cartwheels, handsprings, lifts
(also see: DROP, SPLIT, LIFT)
(1) In Partnership Dancing the "ACTION" of the
leader is felt and reacted to by the follower. (2)
In West Coast Swing the primary lead takes place on the
"&a" before count "1" of the next pattern. The reaction
of the follower is to land on the beat of the music for
count "1." (3) Action/ Reaction also takes place
if the follower does an unexpected syncopation which
takes more time than the leader expected. It is then
the leader's responsibility to react in a way that both
compliments, and accommodates that action.
ADJUSTED PATTERN - see ABSOLUTE PATTERN
ADVANCED RHYTHMS -
(1) Includes all of the more difficult
Syncopated Rhythms. (2) Any Rhythms that are more
complex than the Primary and Secondary Rhythms.
(also see: PRIMARY RHYTHMS, SECONDARY RHYTHMS)
(1) A move whereby one partner lifts the other
into the air with a rotational movement that is
primarily completed by momentum.
(2) Full weight of one partner is supported by the
(also see: LIFT)
AIR SHUFFLE -
(1) An "Out & Back" move like a shuffle in
Tap Dancing, except that the foot does not hit the
floor. (2) Say "&a Kick and Step-Step" to a Count of
"&a 1&a2.” (3) Air Shuffles are used to precede a
"Shorty George" (Swing, circa late 1930s). (4)
Most little "Kicks" in Swing Syncopations (if they are
well executed) are actually "Air Shuffles."
(also see: KICK, SHUFFLE)
(1) A series of patterns that flow from
one to the other. (2) Ideally, this "series" of
patterns will fit into major phrases of the music
When teaching smaller amalgamations to
any 4/4-time music, there is a formula that helps
develop creativity in the dancer. For Swing
routines, first teach simple, whole phrases of 32
beats of music. ( Computed as: four 6-Beat patterns
plus one 8-Beat pattern) Next, teach a few 16 beat
phrases. (Many dance tunes have 6 sets of 8
instead of four sets of 8. Finally, add
a few Rhythm Breaks (4 beats each) Before long, the
dancer will be able to fit those dance pieces to ANY
arrangement of music.
(also see: LINK, PHRASING, RHYTHM BREAK)
AMERICAN "COUPLES" DANCING -
(1) American Couples Dancing runs the gamut from
basic Social Dance to Competition & Performance level.
The distinguishing word here is "American". (2)
American style, according to Golden State
Dance Teachers Association, refers to a style of
dancing that moves easily from "open" foot position
to "closed" foot position patterns, at every
level of training.
Focusing on movement to music, GSDTA
places patterns and styling as a secondary
issue, compared to connecting the dancer to the
music, and to each other, at every level.
Author's Note: There are certain styles of
training where foot positions are “open” at one level
and “closed” at another level. That method can slow
down the development of the dancer. Foot position
selection is NOT what determines the level of
performance. “American Couples Dancing” brings
Laure' Haile to mind. As National Dance Director
for Arthur Murray Studios in the 1950s, LAURE'
influenced thousands of dance instructors. It was a
footnote of Laure's that gave validation to my wanting
to change the way patterns were being counted in Swing.
Laure’s Footnote simply read: “When teaching
a Whip, even though the ladies Walk-Walk takes
place on “5-6” - in Private lessons, I find it
extremely helpful to count that “Walk-Walk” as
“1-2.” That statement made me realize that my
thoughts and ideas on COUNTING had been correct
all along. The Universal Unit System®
was the result of that realization and changed the way
many dances would be counted - particularly SWING. (To
thousands of us who trained under Laure’ - she will
always be our "First Lady of the Dance").
AMERICAN DANCES - See: FOXTROT, CHA-CHA, RUMBA,
SALSA, SAMBA, SLOW DANCE, SWING, TANGO, WALTZ, WEST
COAST SWING, NITECLUB TWO STEP and HUSTLE
ANCHOR (or ANCHOR UNIT) -
(1) An Anchor is NOT a foot position and not a
Rhythm. It is a partner connection in West Coast
Swing, achieved when both partners place their CPB
(Center Point of Balance) behind the heel of the
forward foot. (2) An Anchor is danced on the
last two beats (last Unit) of each Step Pattern in
West Coast Swing. (3) A feeling of body leverage
that balances the resistance of both partners. (4)
Each partner is responsible for establishing his or her
The term "ANCHOR" was coined by GSDTA
in the early 1960s to clarify the difference
between the "resistance" desired at the end of a West
Coast Swing Pattern, and the lack of resistance
caused by the 1961 version of a "Coaster" Step. This
is one of the major milestones that changed the
face of West Coast Swing.
(also see: COASTER STEP)
“AND” COUNT ("&" COUNT) -
(1) The Dance Count that comes half way between
the beats when counting Straight Count: “&1&2-
&3&4- &5&6- &7&8.” (2) In Upper level
Counting (Rolling Count: “&a1 &a2 - &a3 &a4,”
etc.) the location of the “&” count CHANGES to
encourage the CPB to move on the "&" count, allowing the
weight change to take place on the "a" count.
The “&” count actually belongs to the “Center”
of the body (CPB). Connecting the “&” and the “a”
allows the dancer to achieve “Measured Movement.”
That’s why it is referred to as the “&a”. It is
important NOT to call the “a” by itself, or the measured
movement will be lost. An understanding of Rolling
Count can hasten the development of ANY dancer.
Latin, Swing, Foxtrot, even Ballet, improves when the
body achieves Body Flight through Rolling Count and
(also see: "a" COUNT, BODY FLIGHT, COUNT)
ARBITRARY LABEL -
(1) A name we assign to something that we want to
remember, usually when we think that a name does not
already exist. (2) In DANCE we often
assign names to patterns or moves that we do not
know by name. (3) In COUNTRY LINE DANCES, someone
sees an unfamiliar Line Dance and gives it a
name. Usually, the dance already HAS a name!
(4) Proper use of an arbitrary label is when we
name a “move” after a place or a person. (5)
"Sharlot's Strut" was a valid "arbitrary label"
because Sharlot Jansen (now Bott) designed and
performed a pattern that everyone recognized as
"Sharlot's Strut". In California's West Coast Swing
community, SHARLOT JANSEN BOTT, ANNIE HIRSCH, MARY
ANN NUNEZ and TATIANA MOLLMANN, ( to name a few)
have perfected moves that carry their names. (6)
"Kenny's Shag," once an "Arbitrary Label" for a form
of St. Louis Shag, was made popular by the late
Choreographer/ Dancer/ DJ/ MC, KENNY WETZEL.
KENNY'S SHAG is now known throughout the country. (7)
Many Arbitrary Labels, through continued
usage, have become standards. SHORTY GEORGE SNOWDEN,
a New York City dancer in the 1930s, was responsible for
the "Shorty George." That name is now a Classic
move for Jitterbuggers, Lindy Hoppers and Swing dancers
of all styles and ages.
(also see: SAILOR SHUFFLE, SHAG, SHORTY GEORGE)
ASSIMILATION PERIOD -
(1) The time it takes for the mind to absorb,
and the muscle memory to execute, that which has
been taught. (Can be several days, weeks, or even
months according to what has been taught.) (2)
The "mileage" (practice time and absorption time)
between lessons. (3) The name that many teachers
use to describe the "5 or 10 minute" (observed and
assisted) practice session - usually half-way
through the class hour.
This "observed practice" is a planned time slot
for the teacher to recognize general areas of
development that can be stressed, following a planned
(1) A synonymous term for "style", "essence"
and/or "presence" of a dancer. (2) A
Ballet leg position (Back Attitude) where the
foot, calf and outside of the knee is bent and pressed
The "lifted" leg needs the added
technique of pressing the inside of the thigh
downward toward the floor.
(also see:: ESSENCE, STYLE)
A direction that calls for a 4th foot
position or an Open 3rd.
(also see: FOOT
POSITIONS, FORWARD, SIDE)
BALANCE STEP -
(1) A Balance Step in Waltz is SINGLE RHYTHM in 3/4
time. The dancer steps on count "1" and, staying on
that same foot, the body rises slightly on count "2" and
slightly more on count "3". The free foot, on counts "2"
and "3" touches the floor in 3rd foot position in order
to "balance" the position. (2) A Balance Step in
Samba is SINGLE RHYTHM in 4/4 time, and is called a
Balancete’. The dancer steps on count “1” - does
a slight lilt on “&” - and points the free foot back on
(also see: SINGLE RHYTHM)
(1) Balboa is a Rhythm Dance composed of
"8-Beat" patterns and "4-Beat" rhythm breaks. Basic
Step: "Back, Forward, Forward, touch - Forward,
Back, Back, touch" - The original form of EASY Basics
has a "touch" on count "4" and count "8". (Rhythm
Pattern: "Double, Single, Double, Single." )
Balboa is a product of the late 1930s and early ‘40s and
originated in Southern California on Balboa Island.
(2) The Advanced Rhythm Pattern: "Double,
Delayed Single, Double, Delayed Single" ("Back-Forward,
touch-step, Forward-Back, touch-step) - with the
touches on count "3" and count "7" of the
"8-Beat” pattern - is the form currently being taught
as the recommended basic. (3) Balboa
has a Movement Unit of "Down-Down" - a
rhythmic lilt that is really more felt than seen.
BOTH Basics are valid. Each should be taught
based on the level of the students - how much time is
available for teaching and/or - the style being danced
where the student resides..
Historical Note : (A) The advanced form
with a touch or kick on counts "3" and "7" - became the
STANDARD in the 1980s, through the efforts of
JONATHAN BIXBY and SYLVIA SYKES, two dedicated
teachers from Santa Barbara. This is the most popular
form today. Jonathan and Sylvia credit LOLLY WISE
and MAXIE DORF, two top Balboa aficionados, for
working with them on re-constructing the patterns. (B)
Balboa came out of the BALBOA PAVILION at a
time when the music was fast and the floors packed.
Fred Christofferson, Bart Bartolo, Natalie Esparza,
Willie Desatoff, Harry Berlin, Sam & Dottie Dominguez
and Ed & Inez Thompson all come to mind as
"Balboa Greats" who were still dancing in 1997 - on the
second update of this book, several are still at it in
the year 2005.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Balboa dancers fell easily
into the rhythmic, subtle bounce of the Balboa because
they had been dancing Lindy and Truckin’, popular moves
of the 1930s and ‘40s.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, SHAG,
BALL OF THE FOOT -
(1) The padded area behind the toes, meant to
cushion the joints. . (2) A frequently
misused term that suggests putting too much weight on
the padded area of the big toe.
Dancing on the ball of the big toe creates
bunions. Use the term Power Point instead of Ball of the
Foot. Think of the padded area as a mountain. In FRONT
of the mountain is the “3 Toe Base” - BEHIND the
mountain is the Power Point. Don’t stand on top of the
mountain. Use the appropriate spot for the move being
(also see: 3-TOE BASE, POWER POINT)
BALL CHANGE -
(1) A TAP DANCING term which means to make
a quick weight change on the Ball of one foot, followed
by an accented, loud, FLAT-footed landing, on the
OTHER foot. The Free Foot is in the air as the
dancer assumes a momentary "pose." (2) This term
is used in the Universal Unit System®
only in TAP dancing and MODERN JAZZ. (3) The
Rhythm of the move is a “Delayed Double” and can be
called as a “Hold & Step-Step” or a “Kick & Step-Step,”
Sometimes erroneously used to denote a "Kick
& Step-Step" or a "Hitch Kick." It is important to
know that every "Kick & Step-Step" is NOT a "Ball
Change." However, every Kick & Ball Change IS a “Delayed
(also see: DELAYED RHYTHMS, HITCH KICK)
BALLROOM DANCING -
(1) A term generally used to describe the Social
Dances of the day. (2) AMERICAN BALLROOM DANCING,
and particularly American Social Ballroom
dancing, has made dramatic changes in the teaching of
Dance. The most significant changes have taken
place because of the discoveries of "Rules of Music"
and "Rules of Movement." American dancing
concentrates on musicality and interpreting "feeling" in
the music. (3) International BALLROOM Dancing is
taught mainly for Competition and has it's own
unique style that does not lend itself as well, to
(also see: SOCIAL DANCE)
BALLROOM SWING -
A form of West Coast Swing that is different from
that used by the general West Coast Swing dance
community. Ballroom Swing usually refers to a
STYLE of West Coast Swing that uses a "Coaster"
step at the end of each pattern.
(also see: COASTER STEP)
A MUSICIAN'S term to denote the line that
separates the measures in sheet music. It is a
synonym for Measure. (1) When Musicians refer to a “12
Bar Blues” - they are describing 12 measures of
music - or a dancer’s six “Sets of 8.”
(also see: MEASURE of MUSIC)
BASIC RHYTHM PATTERN - see PATTERNS
BASIC STEP PATTERN - see PATTERNS
BASKET WHIP - see LOCK WHIP
BEAT (of Music) -
(1) In Social dance, one beat of music refers to
one "quarter note", which is how time signatures are
measured. 4/4-time means that there are 4 quarter
notes to one Measure of music. (2) Most forms of
Social Dance: Ballroom, Latin, Salsa, Swing,
Hustle, Nightclub Two Step, Line Dancing, etc. are all
danced to 4/4- time music. There are 2 beats of music
in every Dance Rhythm in each of those dances. There
are 2 DANCE RHYTHMS to each measure of 4/4-time music.
(3) WALTZ is the exception and is danced to
3/4-time music. One beat of 3/4-time music still
equals one quarter note. There are 3
beats of music in one Measure of 3/4-time music,
which translates to one "3-Beat"
(also see: COUNT, MEASURE, RHYTHM UNIT)
BEATS Per MINUTE versus MEASURES Per MINUTE -
(A) BEATS per minute (BPM) refers to the tempo
(speed) of the music, determined by counting the
number of beats of music in 60 seconds.
(B) MEASURES per Minute (MPM) - A commonly used,
but not as accurate method to measure the tempo of the
Teachers Note: Someone trained to hear
“Beats per minute” will soon be able to determine a
sizable range of tempos, in both 3/4 and 4/4-time music.
Those trained to hear Measures per minute have a
difficult time because 3/4 time music has only 3 beats
per measure. The ear cannot determine tempo in measures
per minute because measures are different with different
time signatures. Also, the range of accuracy is much
tighter with beats per minute, than with measures per
BLANK RHYTHM -
(1) Two Beats of Music with no weight changes.
(2) The dancer needs to identify what is taking
place on each of those two Beats of Music. Example:
"Kick &a Point" or "Touch &a Hold", etc. (3) A
Blank Rhythm is in the family of EVEN Rhythms
because it ends with the Same Foot Free.
(also see: EVEN RHYTHM)
BODY FLIGHT -
(1) The "lifted" look of a dancer who has
achieved a connection between the "sending
foot" and the "receiving foot" - to a point where
the CPB seemingly “floats” across the
floor. (2) That indescribable feeling of "two
people” moving as one. (3) The "airborne"
look, visible when two people achieve a
connection through action and reaction. (4)
In West Coast Swing, the action that follows the
"elastic band" feeling of a properly executed
anchor. (5) In Waltz, Body Flight is visible when
two partners are "centered" - either moving down LOD or
as they execute a turn.
BODY LEAD -
A Body Lead starts in the hand connection, but moves
from the back of the shoulder, producing an even, firm,
controlled lead that does not pull or yank.
A bent elbow on a leader, usually indicates an arm
muscle contraction, which identifies "arm leads" instead
of Body leads.
BODY POSITION CHART -
Chart for Body Positions is not
available in this printing, but will be available in the
new set of Charts being prepared. Target Date:
BOLERO - see MAMBOLERO
BOOGIE BACKS -
(1) A popular 1940s move in
Jitterbug and Lindy. The Verbal Pattern is
: "Back Together &a Kick" - "Back Together &a Kick" etc.
(2) The RHYTHM PATTERN is: "Syncopated
Double - Syncopated Double" (3) The "Count"
is "&a1&a2 - &a3&a4" . Boogie Backs
are part of the SHIM SHAM and are also used in
Lindy and other forms of Swing. Boogie Backs fall into
the category of "Rhythm Breaks.”
BOOGIE HIP - see CAMEL HIP
BOOGIE WALKS -
(1) A lilting Movement Unit of "DOWN &a DOWN"
in the Center Point of Balance ("CPB") - (2)
The weigh stays centered over one foot for 2 beats of
music. It is likened to the movement of a bouncing ball
with 2 bounces (lilts) for each dance rhythm. (3) Lilt
is achieved by relaxing the knees on every beat of the
(also see: LILT, MOVEMENT UNIT)
BOX (Box Turn) -
(1) A term used to denote a SQUARE
floor pattern. (2) It is danced in Foxtrot, Waltz
and Rumba where the actual Floor Pattern
is in the shape of a Box. (a Square) (3)
Example: Mans Rumba Box is: "Side together, forward
& hold - Side together, Back & hold." - 8 beats of
music. Sometimes called as: “Side Together Forward &a
Side Together Back”
(1) A Left Box Turn rotates left. Leader
starts with Left foot: : "Forward Side Together -
Back Side Together." (2) Right Box Turn
rotates right. It still starts with the left
foot, backing LOD - but the call is: "Back Side
Together, &a Forward Side Together." Box Rhythms
rotate in the direction of the FORWARD foot.
BOX RHYTHM -
(1) "Box Rhythm” alternates Double and Single
Rhythm in any order. The Rhythm Pattern for GSDTA is:
“Double - Single - Double - Single.” (2) Box
Rhythm, in 4/4- time, requires 8 beats of music.
An abbreviation for “Beats per Minute”
(also see: BEATS per MINUTE)
BREAK DANCING -
Popular in the 1970s, Break Dancing is a "Solo"
dance with young dancers performing clever moves to
music. This includes floor-spins on one's back, as well
as robot-like moves. Intricate isolations and acrobatic
moves are performed with great musical interpretation.
Today, 2005, Hip Hop dancing has become more popular
than Break Dancing, but each compliments the other.
BREAK ENDINGS -
A term used in the 1950s to define three simple, but
specific, Rhythm Variations.
Historical Note: At Arthur Murray’s in the
early 1950’s, this is what was being taught:
(1) 1st Break Ending: "Kick & Step-Step" to
replace a "Walk-Walk" in what was then known as Western
Swing. (2) 2nd Break Ending: "Step Point, Step
Point, Step" could replace the second triple in that
style of Swing. (3) 3rd Break Ending:
simply the 2nd break ending, followed by the 1st..
TODAY we have replaced the term Break Ending
with words like “RHYTHM VARIATION” and “SYNCOPATION”.
The term "Break Ending" originally referred to
syncopations that took place at the end of a pattern.
With today’s knowledge, we can replace any rhythm
in any pattern using any Dance Rhythm that exists.
(also see: RHYTHM CHART, SYNCOPATION)
BREAK (Flash Break) -
(1) DANCE term used to describe outstanding moves
that are not standard, but which accent specific parts
of the dance for "show" appeal. FLASH BREAKS
were popular in the 1970s and are described in detail in
the 1978 dance textbook "Disco to Tango and Back"
BREAK (Hitting the Breaks) -
(1) In dance music, musical "Breaks" sound as if
someone had actually stopped the music. (2) It may
sound like the music stops, but the beat continues.
Musical Breaks usually occur toward the end of a major
phrase (2) "Hittin' the Breaks" is a phrase that
became popular in the early 1970s, but gained more
popularity in the 1990's as more and more dancers
studied the music and started learning how to "Hit the
Breaks." (3) "Breaks" in the Music are the
strongest and therefore the easiest parts of the
music to hear.
To choreograph a "Stop" (Pose) at a Break Point
adds both interest and drama to the performance.
However, it is also exciting when a musical break lends
itself to an appropriate move that both
compliments and counters the stop in the music.
Concentrate on timing before teaching someone how to
"Hit the Breaks." Many dancers have learned to hit
the breaks before they clearly understood timing,
phrasing, pulsing and centering.
BREAK (Latin Breaks) -
(1) A change of direction in: Cha-Cha, Mambo, Salsa,
Contemporary Bolero, Mambolero, and International
Rumba.) (1) An action where the "receiving foot "
lands, ball of the foot first, returning
the "Center Point of Balance" (CPB) to it’s origin.
(2) In all of the dances listed above, with the
exception of SALSA, the LEADER breaks on his LEFT
foot on count "2" and on his RIGHT foot on "6." Salsa
breaks on “1” and “5.”
(also see: CHANGES of DIRECTION, CHECK, LUNGE, ROCK)
BREAK TURN -
(1) A change of direction that includes a
turn in the opposite direction of the forward
foot. Example: Step forward on the Left Foot,
turn right and step forward again on the Right
Foot. Verbal Call: "Forward Left, and Turn Right."
(2) This turn is popular in Cha-Cha and also very
popular in Country Line Dances. It is frequently
mislabeled as a pivot, simply because to the
untrained eye it is similar to a basketball
A pivot turn in Basketball does NOT place
complete weight on the “breaking” foot. It uses the free
foot to push the body in a different direction. That
fosters bad breaking technique for dance.
(also see: PIVOT, PIVOT TURN, TORQUE TURN)
(1) The "Breath" on the "&a" before each
Downbeat is a term that was used predominantly in
the 1960s in the early days of the Universal Unit
System®. (2) It is still used to denote the
"space" between the Rhythms. (Like the "space"
between words to identify the words in a sentence.)
Today that “breath” has become the “&a” at the beginning
of each new Dance Rhythm.
(also see: PULSE, RHYTHM UNITS)
(1) A "follow through" where one knee
brushes lightly past the other.
(2) This “Brush” can take place on a beat of
music, on an "&" count or on an "a" count,
according to the styling and desired result for a
particular dance. (3) Where the brush takes
place differs with every dance and helps
clarify the "essence" (characteristics) of each
In many dance circles today, this technique has
replaced brushing one foot past the other. Brushing the
knee keeps the knees in better alignment, and still
maintains good footwork Brushing one foot past the other
tends to rush the footwork, and frequently allows the
knees to be too far apart.
(also see: ESSENCE, TAP)
BYU “BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY” -
Well known for its comprehensive dance program in
both American and International Dance. LEE
WAKEFIELD, Director of the award winning Brigham
Young Formation Team, is known for his ability to
connect to the music. GSDTA is proud to have been
part of Lee's early training in the Universal Unit
System. His first competition was at a Golden
State Ball. Lee was part of Lenore Hughes’
Cotillion in Modesto, California.
"C" FRAME -
A slightly rounded frame that still maintains
"connection" with a partner. Used in Swing and the
Latin dances for specific styling. JACK CAREY of
Corona Del Mar, California is noted for
perfection of the "C" Frame in West Coast Swing.
CALIFORNIA SHUFFLE -
(1) A popular, repeatable Syncopation in
West Coast Swing. The RHYTHM is a Syncopated
Double and is one of several "Rhythm Breaks.”
The Verbal Call for this pattern is “& Step Point &
Step Point”. The Count is : "&a1 &a2". The
knee lifts are on the "&" count, the steps are on the
"a" counts, and the "points" are on the beats of the
music. (2) In the early 1980s, a simple form of
Swing , repeating that particular Rhythm Pattern over
and over, was called "California Shuffle." Soon,
the dance disappeared, but the name stayed as a Rhythm
Break in standard Swing and also as a
standard term in Line Dance terminology.
(also see: SYNCOPATION )
(1) The "Call" for any specific pattern in any
dance tells you "What to do." "Walk-Walk, Side
Together Back," etc. is a Description of what takes
place. (2) There can be a variety of calls
to aid in teaching a pattern. The "Caller" can call out
actual BEATS of music - or direction - or
any accent that seems in need of calling. (3)
"Call" is sometimes used as a synonym for "Cue."
(also see: CUE, VERBAL PATTERN )
CAMEL HIP (Boogie Hip) -
(1) A projection of the HIP to the SAME Side
as the "Weighted" Foot. (2) Lining up the Left
Foot with the Left Hip while the CPB stays
centered. (3) If the "FOOT" steps "LEFT-
RIGHT," the "HIP" will move LEFT RIGHT. A Camel
Hip is used in dancing a Shorty George.
(4) CAMEL HIP is the opposite of CUBAN HIP.
(also see: BOOGIE WALKS, CUBAN HIP, HIP CONTROL,
CAMEL WALK - see BOOGIE WALK
CAN of WORMS -
(1) Opening a "can of worms" is really "looking
into areas that need more clarification." (2)
When it comes to EDUCATION, the Rules of the
Universal Unit System® allow us to explore
all sorts of areas and come up with concrete solutions
that would not have been possible without the
discoveries that are the backbone of the
“Universal Unit System". (3) The "Can of Worms" has
become the Hallmark of GSDTA Teachers Training.
The ARTWORK on the GSDTA Can of Worms is that of
Seattle artist and dance teacher, DON BUTLER.
(also see: CAN of WORMS Caricature)
CANTER PIVOTS - see CANTER RHYTHM
CANTER RHYTHM -
(1) Canter Rhythm is DOUBLE RHYTHM in
3/4-time. It was a popular Waltz Rhythm in the
1930's, but is seldom used today except in PIVOTS.
(2) CANTER PIVOTS step on count "1" and count "3"
of the Waltz measure. Stepping BACK on the
left foot, the dancer pivots to the Right on
count "1", rides through count "2" and steps on count
"3." The pivots can continue through "4," ride the "5"
and step on "6." (3) DOUBLE RHYTHM in WALTZ steps
2 times to 3 beats of music. DOUBLE RHYTHM steps
on count "1" and on count "3".
Canter Pivots are great "Show" for
competition and alternating Canter Rhythm with
syncopations makes great creative waltz material.
CAROLINA SHAG -
(1) A highly stylized form of SWING,
spawned in the early 1940s in the Carolina's. The
Basic RHYTHM PATTERN is the same as in standard
Swing. "DOUBLE - TRIPLE - TRIPLE." (2) This
"mirror opposite" basic has both partners mirroring each
other on the basic pattern. Both partners do a “Rock
Step” on the 1st Rhythm, followed by traveling
forward toward each other on the 1st Triple (a
"Forward & together Back"). The 2nd Triple
(Counts 5&a6) has a unique styling that is
characterized by a "Step, Cross in front, Step",
often described as a “Soft Shoe” Triple. (3)
Quoting Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee, from
Atlanta, Georgia: "In the early days this was a man's
dance. He did all the turns and fancy footwork and
her job was to make him look good." Charlie
added that things are different today and both partners
now have a more balanced role.
Carolina Shag has a distinctive styling
with little action in the hips and upper torso.
The focus is on the feet and legs. It is
danced to Beach Music, which is also a great
sound and tempo for West Coast Swing. The dance
contains 6-Beat and 8-Beat patterns, has a
“4-Beat” Starter Step and Rhythm Breaks
and fits all the other standard criteria for Swing.
Feather Award recipients in 1994, CHARLIE
WOMBLE and JACKIE MCGEE had been undefeated
Shag Champions more than 10 years. In 2005, they
are still fantastic dancers and are known as the Good
Will Ambassadors for the Shag Community.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, UNIVERSAL
CBM - see CONTRA BODY MOVEMENT
CENTER of GRAVITY - see CENTER POINT of BALANCE note
CENTER of MASS - see CENTER POINT of BALANCE note #3
(1) Individual "Centering" is the ability to
maintain perfect balance by controlling the "Center
Point of Balance" (CPB) in relationship to the “Unit
Foot.” The CPB moves prior to the weight change from the
“sending” to the “receiving” foot. (2)
Couple "Centering" is the ability to connect the CPB
of both partners - to each other.
(also see: FLASHLIGHT TECHNIQUE, POINT of CONNECTION)
CENTERING KNOB -
(1) The Knob that connects the base of the neck
with the top of the spine. (2) Sometimes referred to,
with tongue in cheek, as the “Goddess” Knob.
The reason for coining the term “Centering
Knob” was the discovery that so many dancers were
able to achieve instant centering simply
by pressing that knob straight back. That action
stretches the chest area and shortens the back area,
resulting in great centered posture.
CENTER POINT of BALANCE (CPB) -
(1) The Solar Plexus is the “Center Point of
Balance” from which all dance movement projects. (2)
To locate your own CPB try this
exercise: Stand with your feet together. Isolate
your hip or abdomen or derriere, or even your head,
and push any one of them about 6 inches to the left
or right or in any direction. You will find that
you can still maintain balance. If
you move your Solar Plexus even 4 inches left or
right - you will find that you must move your foot,
because you have relocated your own center (CPB).
(3) Although Martial Arts and other disciplines
speak of Center of Mass and Center of Gravity,
the above exercise will tell you why we chose to
coin the term “Center Point of BALANCE.” The
CPB is crucial to the Dancer. (3) A popular
TV phrase in body shaping these days is “strengthening
the Core.” Their description of “Core” is the same as
our “Center.” (CPB)
The more accomplished the dancer, the more you
are able to observe the control that comes from the
Solar Plexus. Every well executed move originates
from the CPB.
(also see: CORE, UNIT FOOT)
CENTRIFUGAL FORCE -
(1) "The force tending to pull a thing outward
when it is rotating rapidly around a center."
(Webster's New American Dictionary) (2) This
action takes place in several areas of dance. "Flyin'
Lindy" - Swing - Spot Turns in Rumba and Cha-Cha are all
Any move that requires Centrifugal Force can be
by two partners holding hands and simply
revolving around in a circle with enough leverage
away from each other to FEEL the body lift.
(also see: C-FRAME, FLYING LINDY)
(1) "The act of certifying, by certificate or
other means, to the validity of a persons
qualifications" (from Webster's Abridged) (2)
GSDTA Certification is a 3rd level of accrediting
that attests to the fact that more than 200 hours of
training has taken place, written examinations have been
passed, and ability has been verified by video
presentation of classes in action. Further accrediting
is available to those who have passed the examinations
and are teaching at Convention level. They
have also passed an oral exam and have demonstrated the
knowledge of how to break down any pattern in any
dance by simply observing that pattern danced to
music. (3) Certification is worth whatever the
organization that "Certifies" says it is worth. Whatever
constitutes Certification is signed by someone
who attests to the fact that those
qualifications have been met.
(also see: CREDENTIAL)
(1) A Latin Dance, with an "8 Beat" Rhythm
Pattern that "Breaks" on count "2" and count
"6." The real MUSICAL COUNT and the
DANCE COUNT for Cha-Cha is "&a1 2 - 3 4 -
&a5 6 - 7 8." (2) UCWDC, the leading Organization
for Country Western Competition, made
"breaking on 2" mandatory for competition starting
in 1994. (3) American-style CHA-CHA has been
"Breaking on 2" since the birth of Cha-Cha in the
early 1950s. (4) COWBOY CHA-CHA and “COLLOQUIAL”
CHA-CHA alternate Double and Triple Rhythm and they
Break on "1" and "5." The Count is "1 2 - 3&4 - 5 6 -
7&8." This count is NOT acceptable in competition.
Historical Note: Cha-Cha is an outgrowth
of Mambo and was first introduced as "Triple Mambo"
in the late 1940s.. In order to "Break on 2" most
Studios had a Count of "2,3 - 4&1". This count
was used for many years and still continues in many
areas today. However, with the discovery of the "8-Beat"
count, about 1971, came the successful use of the full
"8-Beat" mini-phrase. The unprecedented interest in
Technique and Education in the ‘90s, launched the
discovery of the true "Rhythm Pattern" for Cha-Cha
and made dance history. The COUNT, as listed in
(1) above, allows dancers to be aware of the foot
placement of each count in the music.
A) Where to START is no longer the prime
objective. HOW to LOCATE count "2" and count "6" at all
times in the dance should be the focus of the dancer.
This concept has revolutionized the teaching and the
performance of Cha-Cha. Dancers trained in the
new count STAY on the correct beat with little or
no effort, through the entire performance. (B)
One popular Starter Step, with the man stepping
"Side Left and Back Right” on counts “&a1&a2,”
puts him on time, but OFF PHRASE for
the entire dance. This same Starter Step becomes
acceptable if the man waits and starts “side Left & Back
Right” on counts “5 6” instead of “1-2”. There is
another "Starter Step" where the man steps "Side
RIGHT" on count "1" and breaks forward on "2." As an
American dance - or in GSDTA curriculum, that is totally
unacceptable - simply because the follower is taught to
start any dance by centering her weight over her
left foot and having her Right foot free. GSDTA
suggests a Starter Step of: “Side-check” to the left on
the “a” count - return to right foot on “1,” and then
break forward on count “2” of any “Set of 8” beats of
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, MAMBO,
CHAINÉ TURN -
A Ballet term that describes a style of execution that
fits several different turns. Chaine' refers to the
action of opening and closing the feet -as in the making
of a CHAIN.
Teaching Note: Chaine' really relates to
foot positions rather than a step pattern,
and the name can describe either a Pivot OR a
Torque Turn. It is advisable in Social Dance to
use the terms Pivot turn and Torque turn, rather than
using the term Chaine'
(also see: PIVOT TURN, TORQUE TURN)
CHALLENGE (Shine Position) -
(1) An OPEN Dance Position whereby one partner
dances a Rhythm Break and the other either
mimics the same step or does something else to TOP
the first move. (2) The "Challenge" game started
with CHA-CHA in the 1950s, but West Coast Swing
soon adopted it. That form is found in many routines
today. In 1994 this "style" of advanced Swing
renewed it's popularity through the efforts of GSDTA
Syncopation Specialist MARY ANN NUNEZ of Southern
CHANGES of DIRECTION -
(1) A Step that reverses the flow of the CPB
and returns it "Home".
(2) Different degrees of changes of direction
have different names:
"BREAK" - a Change of Direction that stops the
CPB, half way to the "breaking" foot and then returns it
"CHECK" - a more severe Change of Direction
where the CPB is stopped one quarter of
the way from the "checking" foot, by leaning slightly
away from that foot, as done in Hustle, Samba or
"ROCK" - requires TWO distinct weight changes.
The CPB moves either Back and Forward - Forward and Back
- or "Side and Return" to original position. Each is
done with a rocking action. The CPB only travels two
thirds of the way toward point "B" before being
“LUNGE” - a forward or side weight change where
the CPB centers completely over the
(also see: BREAK, CHECK, LUNGE, ROCK)
(1) A distinguishing trait of a specific dance.
(2) An outstanding feature that helps to identify
(also see: ESSENCE)
(1) Charleston - is a popular Rhythm Dance of the
“Roarin' 20s" and early 1930s. The Charleston is an
American “Classic.” It is characterized by High
Forward Kicks, followed by Low Back Kicks. (2)
Two Basic "Looks" are seen in the Charleston. One was
danced as "and Step and Kick and Step and Kick"
and the other as “and Kick and Step and Kick and
Step.” (3) The standard Rhythm Pattern is
"Single - Blank - Single - Blank.” Charleston has an "8
beat" pattern, with a rhythmic bounce on every beat.
(4) The Movement Unit is a "Down-Down"
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, MOVEMENT UNIT)
(1) A Cha-Cha Pattern where one partner does a
"Break Turn" and the other follows, as if they are
chasing each other. (2) The Follower has 4 beats
of music to see what the Leader has done and then mimics
(also see: CHALLENGE)
CHASSÉ (Pronounced Shah-say) -
(1) A "Side Together" using two beats of
music, stepping once on each beat. (2) A Chasse’ is
DOUBLE RHYTHM. (3) Step to the Side in 2nd
foot position on count "1" and bring the feet together
in 1st foot position on count "2.” (4) Chasse'
means "to chase." The closing foot
chases the moving foot. (5) In International
Dance terminology, a Chasse' refers to a "triple" (3
weight changes), a "side together side.”
(also see: FOXTROT, SLOW DANCE)
(1) A tight "Change of Direction" where the
dancer's Center Point of Balance (CPB) is sent
out, but the receiving foot catches the body, and
becomes the “Sending Foot” as it lands - and sends the
body back. (2) Checks are always done on “Toe
Base”. Heel does not hit the floor.
(also see: CHANGES of DIRECTION, BREAK, ROCK)
(1) One who puts Routines together. (2) A
stricter sense of the word refers to those who make
their LIVING doing choreography.
It should be noted here that everyone who puts a
routine together is not, in the professional
sense, a choreographer. Choreographers are known by
(also see: ROUTINE)
(1) The "content" of a Routine or a grouping of
patterns, planned in a way that someone can repeat them
at a future time. (2) The WORKS of a
Choreographer. (3) Moves that are spontaneous and
not planned, but fit the music well, are sometimes
referred to as "spontaneous" choreography.
(1) A "2-Foot" move where both feet
move forward at the same time and then back at
the same time. (2) Place the Force Point in the
bent knees to "Chug" forward and in the back of the
knees to pull backward. Chugs are a popular move in the
Charleston. They can be danced alone, or danced in
parallel position with a partner.
(also see: SCOOT)
"CLASSIC" DANCE -
(1) In SOCIAL DANCE, the "CLASSICS" are
those Dances which have made an impact on society and
have withstood the test of time, having developed
standard, recognizable step patterns and teaching
techniques. (2) These dances become part of our
dance heritage. (3) Charleston, Twist, the Stroll
and the Conga are all dances that started out as Fad
dances, and with time became Classics. Foxtrot, Waltz,
Rumba, Samba and Tango have long been considered
Classics - and at this writing (2005) Salsa is well on
it’s way to becoming a time honored "Classic.”
(also see: FAD DANCES, STANDARD DANCES)
CLOSED POSITION -
A standard dance position with the Lady facing
the man, with his right hand placed on her
back, just below (but not on) the shoulder blade.
Her left hand is placed at the appropriate level for the
dance being done. His left hand holds her right hand
halfway between the two partners at her chin level
for most dances and at her elbow height for Swing.
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION CHART)
COASTER STEP -
(1) In Swing Dance Clubs, and more specifically in
Swing groups that define themselves as "WEST
COAST SWING", a Coaster Step has been replaced
by an “ANCHOR.” (2) In "BALLROOM
SWING" a Coaster Step is referred to as any
“Back Together Forward.” (3 This one simple
term has become the dividing line for two
very different, identifiable forms of SWING. The
"Coaster" is still used in many venues of
"Ballroom Swing." Competitions seldom overlap
mostly because of the decided difference in the
appearance and style of the dance.
Historical Note: The history of the
"Coaster" helps us to understand why it has been
replaced. In the early 1950s, The Long Beach,
California Arthur Murray Studio boasted a staff of
top Swing dancers. Karma Haltom would "Coast"
at the end of a pattern, turning her body on an
angle as she swiveled back left and forward right
before walking in toward her partner. To teach
that style, the easiest form was to swivel the body and
do a "Back together forward,” and then swivel to
face your partner before walking forward into a new
pattern. The term "COASTER" applied to the movement
and not the rhythm OR the direction of the feet. Arthur
Murray Studios adopted this style as part of its
National Curriculum. Over time, with revisions
of teaching manuals, more and more technique was
eliminated until finally, the SWIVEL was no longer in
print. The basic styling of the pattern was
lost. The definition began to include any "Back
together Forward" and remains so in many places
Today 2005 (and since 1978) in order to preserve
the essence and characteristic of the dance, West Coast
Swing Dancers (and particularly all GSDTA Teachers) use
an "Anchor" rather than a "Coaster.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I thought it was important
to include some of the process of GSDTA not using the
term “Coaster” in the GSDTA curriculum. Many teachers
asked “If you don’t use the term “Coaster” - what will
you call a “Back Together Forward?” My answer was “What
do you call a “Side Together Side” or a “Forward Hook
Forward?” We should not name the direction of every
Triple. Calling the placement of the feet is a much
clearer “Call” for teaching.
(also see: ANCHOR, BALLROOM SWING, FLOATING ANCHOR)
(1) A dance term that refers to a style that is
danced by the masses, but not in the form accepted by
formal competition. (2) Colloquial Cha-Cha is a
good example. This popular form of Cha-Cha “Breaks” on
count “1” and “5” in the music. (3) Colloquial
refers to doing whatever is happening in your particular
(also see: CHA-CHA)
(1) A pattern in Samba that is a
repetition of crossing one foot over the other, followed
by backward traveling, pulling moves. The "Call" is
"Kick &a Cross - and step pull and step pull - and step
pull and step pull - through 8 beats of music. (2)
Although this started out as a Samba move, it has
become a standard syncopation in Swing,
Cha-Cha and several other dances.
(1) There are different levels of DANCE COMPETITIONS,
determined by the size of area location. Example: The
local weekly Nightclub Club contest, the monthly
(more or less) CLUB contest, the State or
Regional Championships, and National and
International Championships. (2) The real benefit
of participating in competition is having a deadline to
improve your craft.
It is important to plant seeds of good
sportsmanship early in the competition game.
Competition can be a grand experience or it can
be a destructive nightmare. Not everyone is cut
out to be a Competitor.
(also see: JUDGING PANEL)
(1) Resistance that is toward each other,
with enough "Action" that it requires a "Reaction".
Example: In West Coast Swing, a PUSH BREAK requires
COMPRESSION on count “3.” This allows the Follower
to do many style variations that are not possible
without this “Count-3” compression.
(also see: PUSH BREAK, RESISTANCE)
(1) In couples dancing, particularly SWING,
the feeling of resistance between partners
that makes action and reaction a possibility. (2)
Although Swing partners may be connected through the
hands, there is also a visible "connection" that extends
from one partner's center (CPB) to the other
(also see: CENTERING)
CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL DANCE -
(1) Those Dances currently being danced by the
general public in any specific "Era". Whenever we read
the word "Contemporary,” we must determine the year of
the observation. (2) The 1990s could easily
consider "Country Dance" as Contemporary Social
Dance. (3) The TWIST Era and the "BOP" Era, along
with the JITTERBUG Era, all were considered
Contemporary Dance at the peak of their popularity.
(4) In every era and in every geographic location
there is a "Contemporary" form of Foxtrot. The DANCE
scene changes with time, but consists of the same
basic Rhythm Units danced to 4/4-time music.
(also see: FOXTROT, SALSA, TWO STEP)
CONTRA BODY MOVEMENT (CBM) -
(1) An exaggeration of a normal walking step.
(2) Example: The Left Shoulder pulls back slightly
as the Left Foot moves forward. The Right Shoulder
pulls back slightly as the Right Foot moves
forward. (3) CBM is most easily visible in Tango,
but is present in all forms of dance.
(1) Dancers should know that the active shoulder
pulls BACK, rather than thinking of the relaxed shoulder
as moving forward. (2) Slight Contra Body
Movement makes a decided difference in the level of West
Coast Swing being danced. (3) It should be
taught in closed dance position in basic Country Two
Step and Foxtrot. When this is
accomplished, all turns become easier and
it eliminates the need for “Pre-leads” and “Preps.”
CONVERSATION POSITION -
A Dance Position where both partners are
traveling forward at the same time, hinged at the
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION CHART)
"A harmonious adjustment or action as in
muscles producing complex movements."
(Webster's New American Dictionary)
A few fortunate people seem to be coordinated at
birth, but the average person needs some degree of
coordination training. Everyone can improve
coordination through training. Many schools teach the
Dance Dynamics® Motion Study Routines developed through
the Universal Unit System® as a foundation
for Coordination Training.
COORDINATION SKILLS -
(1) Those moves that demonstrate the ability to
walk with the body upright, to a measured beat, arms
swinging in the opposite direction of the moving
foot. (2) Those skills that show dexterity of
hands, feet and body.
(A) The degree of coordination skills can be
measured through observation by someone
knowledgeable in the GSDTA training techniques. (B)
Every form of coordination training includes
rhythmic exercise, along with repetitious movement of
different parts of the body. (C) Teaching
Dance Rhythms can start as early as Kindergarten
and performing them is a skill that lasts a
lifetime. (D) Current public school sports
programs reward those who are already coordinated, but
do little to correct the inabilities of those whose
bodies lack coordination. One of the
primary goals of GSDTA is to aid in the training of
Teachers who work in "early childhood education"
and/or Coordination Training for any age.
A SAMBA pattern that is Single Rhythm with a
"Call" of "Forward - Point back - Forward - Point
back" The "Point back" presses the big toe
into the floor, eventually creating a "Subtle Triple.”
(also see: SAMBA, SUBTLE TRIPLE)
(1) A popular word in exercise circles in
2004, 2005 & 2006. Located in the area of the
Solar Plexus, it includes the muscles that surround
that area. Exercises are taught to “strengthen the
core” feeling the muscles pulling inward, toward the
solar plexus, from all directions.
Author's Note: The excitement in GSDTA
circles is that the description of "Core" (frequently
used on TV) corresponds with our description and
location of Center Point of Balance (CPB).
see: CENTER POINT OF BALANCE)
(1) A Dip - The Leader steps back on his left
foot, lowering the weighted leg by bending the weighted
knee. His Center Point of Balance (CPB) stays centered
over the weighted foot. His free foot is extended
forward. (2) The Follower does a “Natural
Opposite,” stepping forward on the right foot, lowering
onto a bended knee, as her left foot stretches straight
back. (3) Medio Corte' refers to a lesser degree
of a dip. Partner dances Natural Opposite.
(also see: DIP)
COUNT - LEVELS of Counting (for dancers,
choreographers, and dance musicians.)
(1) The 1st level of Counting is simply
counting the actual Beats of Music as they are
written and heard: "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8" ( "Sets of
8.") Dancers should first learn to count "Sets
of 8" in the music, in order to establish the
location of Downbeats and Upbeats. (Musicians
call these "Sets of 8" the Dancers count). Pit
orchestra musicians on Broadway are all familiar with
counting "Sets of 8." (2) The 2nd level of
counting for dancers is to understand the beats of
music in every dance pattern. They start
counting on "1" with every new pattern and count through
the number of beats in that specific pattern. The
number of beats in a pattern will always come out to an
EVEN number (2-4-6-8-etc.) The "Pattern Count" does
not always correspond with counting the beats of the
music, but will ALWAYS keep the dancer dancing on the
correct beat. (3) The 3rd level of counting is
great for choreographers - but difficult for many
dancers - and absolutely not necessary for social
dancing. For those professionals who can count
the music, above all else, no matter what patterns are
being danced, it certainly is advisable to count the
actual beats of the music, without changing the count
for patterns. Some people learn this technique very
easily. Caution: For some people, unless your
basic dancing is ALWAYS solid on the Downbeat, counting
in "8s" , tends to develop a habit of skipping an
occasional beat in a pattern and winding up dancing on
the Upbeat. Use this level of counting only when it
really WORKS for you. These LEVELS of counting
have nothing to do with Rolling or Straight count, which
is a separate issue.
COUNT - MUSICAL COUNT -
(3) The 3rd level is a
ROLLING Count, sometimes referred to as the
"Dancer’s Count." (Musicians refer to it as
"swinging the beat" - or "rolling the beat"). Rolling
Count is counted out as: "&a1&a2 - &a3&a4 - &a5&a6 -
&a7&a8.” (4) Every piece of music has a specific
number of BEATS in each measure and in each
Mini-phrase. There is also a specific number of beats of
music in each Step Pattern in dance.
(A) It is important for the student to know when
we are counting beats of music in the MUSIC - or
counting beats of music in a STEP PATTERN. The
full range of "COUNTS" includes the "&" and the "a"
counts. (B) It is also important to count actual
"BEATS of Music” and not Foot Placements.
Example: Triple Rhythm in 4/4-time can be counted as
"&1&2" or as "&a1&a2" - but never "123.” (C) Each
Dance Rhythm takes only two beats of
MUSIC, with six possible steps (counts) in those
two beats. Musical Rolling Count helps develop
the dancer's ability to coordinate all three body zones
into their performance. It also allows the dancer to
progress to his or her own highest potential.
COUNT - ROLLING COUNT (Rolling Triple) -
(1) Rolling count breaks each beat of the music
into 3 separate parts: "&a1 - &a2 - &a3 - &a4"
(through 8 beats of music). Musicians call this a
“Dancers Count.” They refer to this form as “Swingin’
it” - which has to do with the "feeling" of the dance
and not a particular KIND of dance.
Rolling Count is the secret to an upper level dance
(2) Rolling Count produces what we call "3 dimensional"
COUNT - STRAIGHT COUNT
(1) Counting BEATS of MUSIC using
the "&" count between the beats. "&1&2 -&3&4
-&5&6 -&7&8" Straight Count also includes "1e&a - 2e&a
- 3e&a - 4e&a etc." This last one is a very "busy"
count for a dancer and develops a "rushed" look in West
Coast Swing. It frequently gives the impression that
the dancer is off- time. STRAIGHT count puts a
ceiling on the dance and does not encourage
rhythmic interpretation for Triples and
COUNTRY SWING -
(1) "Country Swing" can be interpreted many
different ways, according to where you live and
who you ask. (2) The standard recognized
Swing forms for Competition: any style of East
Coast or West Coast Swing. (3) There is also a
"4-Count" Swing and a Rodeo Swing that are sometimes
referred to as "Country Swing" but these are not allowed
(also see: EAST COAST SWING, WEST COAST SWING)
COUNTRY TWO STEP -
(1) A dance that is primarily "6-Beat" patterns
which travel Line of Dance around the floor.. RHYTHM
PATTERN is "Double, Single, Single” and the most popular
"CALL" is still "Quick-Quick - Slow --Slow.” (2)
Country Two Step is part of the Foxtrot "family"
but is distinguished by the constant changing of the
Lady's position as she is moved from "Cuddle" to
"Sweetheart" to "Promenade" to Closed position, while
she and her partner continue to travel Line of Dance.
Underarm Turns and Spins further characterize the dance.
In a Basic Pattern, one knee brushes past the
other knee, creating a “follow-through” on count “4” and
count “6.” Dancers need to go beyond Quicks and Slows,
and understand the entire COUNT: "1 2 - 3 4 - 5 6.”
A popular trend for competition is to pulse the
up-beats on counts "4" and "6". This not
only produces an exciting look and feel but also gives
character and life to the dance.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
COUNTRY WALTZ - see WALTZ
COUNTRY WESTERN DANCING -
(1) The most popular Couples Country Dancing
includes: Country Two Step, Waltz, East Coast Swing,
West Coast Swing and Cha-Cha. Country Dancing started
its rise to popularity as a "contemporary" dance about
1978 -'79, with the popularity of the JOHN TRAVOLTA
Movie "URBAN COWBOY.” (2) Country Dancing
also includes LINE DANCING. (3) By 1994,
Country had become the dance of the decade. Local and
National Competitions, Conventions, the UCWDC,
CWDI, ATCDA, GSDTA, NTA and NACDI had all
contributed to the fact that COUNTRY DANCING was a major
influence in Social Dance during the 1990s. (4) At
the 1994 FEATHER AWARDS, three Country Personalities
received awards. DAKOTA DAVE GETTY, for
choreography; STEVE ZENER, UCWDC President for
the best event of the year; and TOM MATTOX, for
having the most impact on Country Western Dancing. Tom
is credited with introducing West Coast Swing
into Country Competition and is also known for having
the largest “Country” Dance Club membership
in the Nation.
COUNTRY CALENDAR was a popular Dance Newspaper, read
Coast to Coast. Monthly columns by Skippy Blair
kept teachers Up to Date in an “Ask the Teacher” column.
Ernie Wheeler, owner and editor, served the dance
community by also maintaining an 800 Information Line.
(also see: TWO STEP, WALTZ, SWING, LINE DANCING)
COWBOY CHA-CHA -
Same Foot Western Line Dance. Sometimes referred to as
Cha-Cha breaking on “1.”
CPB - see CENTER POINT OF BALANCE
CRADLE - see CUDDLE
(1) "To give credence to" - (from Webster's
(2) Certificates are issued to attest to the
validity of what the credential states. (3)
Someone checking the credentials of an individual
- be it by Certificate or by personal representation -
should contact the organization or person who signed the
credential to ascertain what the credential represents.
(also see: CERTIFICATION)
CRITICAL TIMING -
(1) When a dancer is ON TIME, not just at the
start of a pattern - or on the Breaks - but on time
ALL of the time, all the way through each pattern.
(2) Except in rare circumstances, Critical Timing
requires a Rolling Count. (3) The CPB
transfers the weight precisely on the beat of the music.
Simply having the foot hit the floor, in time with the
music, does not qualify as being on time.
(also see: ROLLING COUNT, DOWNBEATS, UPBEATS)
(1) “Critical analysis or evaluation of a subject”
(from Webster’s New World Dictionary). (2) Dance
Critiques from GSDTA: An analysis that seeks out
elements that can immediately upgrade the level of
Historical Note: GSDTA initiated the
practice of Dance Critiques in the year 1985. They
started out as a tool to add to the dance education of
those taking GSDTA Teachers Training. Later they became
more commonplace at competitions to advance the
knowledge of competitors. In the year 2004, Critiques
were added to the Certification process of the Judges
Training through the National Dance Dynamics
Certification Board, (NDDCB).
Author's Note: Although I spent many years
working on the development of Judges Training, I find
that doing Critiques is more rewarding than judging for
me personally.. A good Critique can help a dancer
develop skills to a new level. Judging is always painful
for me because I have to evaluate one person’s
development over another. I get excited over any
dancer taking a step up - rather than scoring higher
that someone else.
(1) A FOOT POSITION that represents a
weight change The Free Foot crosses over the weighted
foot, landing toe first next to the arch of the other
foot. This is a backward crossing action. (2) For
Annotation in the “Sheet Music for Dancers” a
Cross is annotated as an X.
(also see: CROSS in BACK, CROSS in FRONT, GRAPEVINE)
CROSS BEHIND -
(1) A "Call" for a diagonal DIRECTION (
NOT a Foot Position) as in teaching a Grapevine.
(2) Example: "Side Cross in front, Side Cross
Behind.” Dancer travels in the direction of the foot
that steps to the side.
CROSS IN FRONT -
(1) A "Call" for a diagonal DIRECTION (
NOT a Foot Position) as in teaching a Grapevine.
(2) Example: "Side Cross in front, Side Cross
Behind.” Dancer travels in the direction of the foot
that steps to the side.
CROSS SWIVEL -
(1) A popular Swing PATTERN where the
weighted foot swivels in the direction that the
free foot is headed. The free foot then crosses over
to execute a weight change. The name is actually
descriptive, except that the SWIVEL comes
BEFORE the CROSS. (2) A common "CALL" for
this pattern is "&a Cross, &a Cross", etc. The
swivels take place on the "&a" counts.
(also see: CROSS, STRUT, SWIVEL)
CROSS TURN -
(1) Facilitating a Cross Turn relies heavily on
(2) Example: In a LEFT CROSS TURN, the
Right foot crosses over the Left foot,
landing toe first, parallel to, and almost touching, the
Left foot ( the Right knee is slightly bent).
Pressing the heel of the Right foot and the
Toe of the Left foot down into the floor forces the
calves together as the right knee straightens. This
action initiates a rotation of the body to the LEFT.
(3) This rotation will take the body three
fourths of a complete turn. To complete
the turn, the heel and toe pressures reverse.
CUBAN HIP -
(1) A projection of the HIP to the OPPOSITE
SIDE of the Weighted Foot. (2) If the Feet
are marching forward or in place, and the "CALL"
is to step “LEFT RIGHT, LEFT RIGHT" the Hip will
project "RIGHT LEFT, RIGHT LEFT.” (3) Cuban Hip is
frequently referred to as OPPOSITE HIP Movement.
(4) Cuban Hip is used in Upper level, American
style, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Mambo, Mambolero and several
styles of Swing. (5) An International Latin Hip
is a cross between a Cuban Hip and a Camel Hip.
(also see: BOOGIE HIP, CAMEL HIP)
CUBAN MOTION -
(1) The smooth, controlled movement that takes
place when a dancer uses a Cuban Hip action, staying
centered over the Unit Foot. Cuban Motion allows to the
body to move freely without the head going up or down.
All of the hip action takes place in the abdominal area
and is not governed by the knees.
(2) An International Latin Hip is a cross between a
Cuban and a Camel Hip.
CUBAN WALK -
(1) Walking a straight line, single tracking,
using Cuban Motion.
(1) A Dance Position that places the Lady
to the man's side by looping one hand over her head and
wrapping that arm around her. Neither hand lets go.
(2) This position is popular in numerous dances that
includes Waltz, Cha-Cha, Country and Swing..
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION CHART)
(1) Calling out the name of a pattern before
the pattern starts. (2) In a Line Dance, a
"Cue" could be the naming of the next set of moves,
called out on the last 2 beats of the previous set.
Routines are often “Cued” during instruction.
(also see: CALL)
(1) In Dance, part of the Curriculum consists of
a series of Step Patterns that show what is being taught
at a particular establishment - or by a specific
organization. (2) In GSDTA it also includes a
series of Modules that represent the various areas of
dance that are included in specific classes or
DALLAS PUSH -
(1) A form of Swing, popular in Texas,
that does a "Double Resistance" on the end of
each pattern. (2) TERRY RIPPA, noted dance authority
in Texas-style Swing, describes the form of
double resistance as a Syncopated Body Rock. (3)
He describes the Basic level as doing a
regular "anchor", followed by a "Hitch
and Go" on counts "1&2" of the next pattern.
(4) The more advanced styling of this dance uses
a very highly evolved Rhythm Variation on both
the "anchor" of the previous pattern and the
1st Unit of the new pattern. The "Anchor" for the
Lady only steps twice: Once on count "5" and again on
the "&" count before "6.” Her next step is on the "&"
count before "1.” She holds back for count "1"
and steps on the "&" count before "2" and also on count
"2.” The entire move is a continuous body ripple.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, HITCH,
DANCE (DANCING) -
(1) A series of physical, rhythmical moves that
set up a "feeling" of musical flow even if no music
exists. A Dancer can dance to the rhythm of any sound or
even an imagined sound. (2) Interpretation of
Music through physical movement. (3) In
Social Dance, these movements conform to rules and
principles that govern each particular dance, according
to the “Essence” of the dance.
DANCE COUNT -
(1) "&a1 &a2 &a3 &a4" etc. (2) This "rolling
count" makes dancers FEEL the music at an early
stage in their dance development.
(also see: "a,” "AND,” COUNT)
DANCE ETIQUETTE - see ETIQUETTE
DANCE MUSIC - see MUSIC
DANCE POSITIONS -
(1) The position of One Partner in relationship
to the placement of the other Partner.
There are primarily only 9 or 10 BASIC
Dance Positions. Everything else is a slight
variation of one of those positions. It is important to
remember that NAMING these positions is an effort
to help the student to learn and help the teacher
to teach, not to confuse them by listing every possible
position that can be made.
(also see: DANCE POSITION CHART, CLOSED POSITION,
CONVERSATION, CRADLE, ONE-HAND POSITION, OPEN DANCE
POSITION, PRETZEL, PROMENADE, SHADOW, SIDE BY SIDE,
SKATERS, SWEETHEART, TWO-HAND POSITION)
DANCE RHYTHMS -
(1) The Rhythm Units that make up ALL Dance. (2)
Every Dance Rhythm that can be danced to 4/4-time music
is made up of the same two beats of music: One Downbeat
and one Upbeat. (3) Fundamental Rhythms include: Single
Rhythm (one step to two beats of music) - Double Rhythm
(two steps to two beats of music) - and Triple Rhythm
(three steps to two beats of music). (4) All of the
various Rhythms, danced to 4/4-time music, as well as
those danced to 3/4-time music are on the GSDTA Rhythm
Historical Note: In the 1950s, the
only “Rhythms” available were called: Single Time, (Step
touch) - Double Time ( Tap Step) - and Triple Time (Step
3 times). That was a start, but did not cover the
spectrum of Dance Rhythms that we know today.
There was no name for stepping twice. That was called a
“quick-quick.” With the publishing of “Disco to Tango
& Back” - the Universal Unit System made it’s first
national distribution of the discovery of the Dance
“Rhythm Units.” These Dance Rhythms have become
standard in today’s teaching.
(also see: DANCE RHYTHM CHART, RHYTHM UNIT, TIME)
DANCING VOCABULARY -
(1) The patterns and moves which a Dancer has
committed to memory, and really OWNS. (Those
patterns danced without special thought). (2)
The actual knowledge, concerning dance, of an
individual dancer or teacher.
(also see: MUSCLE MEMORY)
DEE JAY (DJ) -
(1) Dee Jay is short for "Disc Jockey"
referring to the person who plays the music. (2)
The term may have started with records, but
remained through cassette tapes and CDs. And
now the term “DJ” continues no matter what form the
music takes: MP3’s - and more recently the “IPOD” -
which allows hundreds of songs to be carried in a small
computer. (3) The better DJ’s have learned to not
only make good selections for competition music, but
have learned how to shorten the long introductions. Some
have even adjusted the tempo of the music and
re-recorded it - if it gives a better result for
DELAYED RHYTHMS -
(1) In 4/4-time, those Rhythms which delay the
weight change until after Count "1" - but still
complete the appropriate number of weight changes by
count "2.” (2) DELAYED SINGLE: ( "Tap Step"
) delays count "1" and steps only on count "2.” A
popular Rhythm replacement in West Coast Swing. (3)
DELAYED DOUBLE: ( “Kick & Step-Step” ) In
4/4-time, a Rhythm that has NO step on count
“1,” but steps on the “a” and the “2."
(4) DELAYED TRIPLE: ("Hold,
step-step-step" ) does not step on count "1,” but
steps on the "&" count, the "a" count and also on count
"2.” (5) In 3/4-time the completion of a
Delayed Rhythm is by count "3.”
Delayed Rhythms are Secondary Rhythms and
should be taught after the Primary Rhythms are
danced comfortably and understood.
ADVANCED RHYTHMS, PRIMARY RHYTHMS, SECONDARY RHYTHMS and
(1) An added clarification of "Direction." (2)
In the breakdowns for the Universal Unit
System(R), a "FORWARD" Triple might need further
direction of traveling the CPB forward diagonally
right - or diagonally left. This action would direct
them toward a forward corner of an imagined square - or
diagonally toward forward toward the center of the
room. Both concepts accomplish the same purpose. (3)
Jazz, Motion Study, Line Dances and other dance
forms can also travel on a Backward Diagonal.
(1) A Rhythm Break in Swing or an individual
pattern in Jazz or Line Dancing. Can be danced in
all DOUBLE RHYTHM or all SINGLE RHYTHM. (2)
The "Call" is similar to a Jazz Square, but the
Floor Pattern is in the shape of a Diamond. The
"CALL" is "Forward, Side, Back, Cross."
(also see: JAZZ SQUARE)
(1) A forward move of the free foot, stronger
than a "tap" but not a full weight change. (2) A
"DIG" usually takes place on the beat of the music.
DIG STEP -
(1) A forward move, stronger than a "tap"
but not a complete weight change. (2) The RHYTHM for
a "DIG STEP" may resemble a "Delayed Single," but is
actually a “Subtle Triple.” (3) “Call” can be
“&a Dig &a Step” -There is a very subtle weight change
on the 2nd “a” count.
(also see: SUBTLE TRIPLE, TAP STEP)
DIP - (Corte’) -
(1) An action where the leader's CPB is lowered,
by lowering the supporting leg while extending the
free foot straight forward or to the side. (free
foot presses into the floor to maintain posture, control
& balance). Lady does the natural opposite, doing a
lunge toward partner, with bent knee, while back
foot is pushed straight back and down.
(1) When it refers to dance, GSDTA considers foot
placement and the change of placement of the CPB to be
crucial. (2) In the Annotation program, F=
Forward, B= Back, S= Side, X= Cross and Hk= Hook.
These terms also relate to specific Foot Positions.
(also see FOOT POSITIONS, FORWARD, BACK, SIDE, CROSS,
HOOK, DIAGONAL, CHANGES of DIRECTION)
(1) Originally a term to describe a "Place"
(A Discotheque) popularized in France in the
1970s. (2) Soon the term grew to include
the MUSIC. (3) Later, it referred to the Dances
that were danced to that Music -- Disco Two Step
(now called Nightclub Two Step -1994) and Freestyle
Disco, etc. (4) The dance text "Disco to Tango
& Back,” 1978, includes a full spectrum “View” of the
(see FREESTYLE, HUSTLE)
DISCO to TANGO and BACK -
(1) 1st printed in 1978, this Dance Text Book
put the Universal Unit System® on the MAP.
(2) Today (2005) this book is still used as the
text for many social dance classes in Colleges and Dance
Studios and is still one of the most comprehensive,
timeless dance training manuals available. In 2004,
this book, now out of print, was designated as a
collectors item. USED copies, available from
Amazon.com, are selling for $80 to over $200. The new
version “Disco to Tango and BEYOND” will be available in
2006. (see UNIVERSAL UNIT SYSTEM®)
(1) In Dance, discoveries are made by
studying minute details that unlock the secrets of
excellent performance. Look at a landscape,
and it is not difficult to see the tall trees. But a
bird in flight lends charm to the picture, and a
tiny red lady bug adds color and contrast. It
is frequently the tiny details that set something
apart from the average.
(A) Discoveries are made in the most unlikely
places. Answering a student's question often results
in “discovery.” (B) Some of the greatest
discoveries have come from seemingly insignificant
questions, asked in a training class and
explored to conclusion. This process allows
everyone to share in the "Joy of Discovery."
There is an ancient axiom that says: “Be attentive when
someone asks you a question - The answer may be for
DOT (A Solid Black DOT) -
The Annotation for a weight change (a Step) in the
"Rhythm Annotation" of the Universal Unit System
(see RHYTHM CHART, SHEET MUSIC for DANCERS)
DOUBLE RESISTANCE -
(1) A Two hand, "out & in" Rhythm Variation in West
Coast Swing. It covers 4 beats of music
which includes the "2 beat" anchor of one pattern and
count "1&a2" of the next pattern. (2) In Dallas
Push and Texas Whip "Double Resistance" is at the
end of every pattern. It is the main
characteristic of the dance.
(see DALLAS PUSH, TEXAS WHIP)
DOUBLE RHYTHM -
(1) In 4/4-time: Two weight changes to two beats
of music, stepping on the Down-Beat and again on
the Up-Beat (as in Marching).
(2) "Double Rhythm" starts with one foot free
and ends with the Same foot free. (3) It
is an "EVEN" Rhythm. (4) Double
Rhythm in 3/4-time (Waltz) - steps on count "1" and
count "3" of the 3 beat Rhythm (Canter Rhythm).
(see CANTER RHYTHM, RHYTHM CHART)
DOUBLE TIME -
(1) Dancing twice as fast as the tempo
of the music. "Double Time Two Step" (Rodeo Two
Step) developed when dancers who ONLY danced
Country Two Step were faced with very slow music.
Dancers made their Two Step fit the music by dancing
twice as fast as the music was playing. (2)
Historically, the term "Double Time" once referred to
dancing a "Tap Step" instead of a Triple in Swing.
At that time (early 1950's through the 1960's) that
"Tap Step" was referred to as "Double Time.” Many
people referred to "Double Time Swing" as a form that
was danced as: "Rock Step - Kick Step - Kick Step." (3)
Swing has advanced in technical knowledge and
development to a point where a "Tap Step" is now
referred to as a "Delayed Single.” (4) In today’s
terminology Double RHYTHM refers to two weight
changes to two beats of music, and Double TIME
means dancing twice as fast as the music.
(see HALF TIME, RODEO TWO STEP)
(1) Walking Forward or Backward as if there were
two "Tracks" on the dance floor instead of one.
(2) Double Tracking takes place when traveling
forward or backward, if there is no Contra Body
In dancing West Coast Swing, Double Tracking
develops a space between the knees. A slight
"Contra-body" movement cleans up the space between the
knees and produces a more centered, polished
performance, particularly for the Follower.
DOWNBEATS & UPBEATS -
DOWNBEAT: (1) The 1st beat of any
DANCE RHYTHM (2) The 1st and 3rd beats of a
Measure of 4/4-time Music. (3) The 1st
beat of a Measure of 3/4-Time Music. (4) Every
"2 Beat" DANCE RHYTHM is composed of one
"DOWNBEAT" and one "UPBEAT.” Every
"3-Beat" DANCE RHYTHM contains 1 Downbeat &
2 Upbeats. (5) In 4/4-time, counts
1, 3, 5, and 7 are the Downbeats in an "8
beat" mini-phrase. In 3/4-time, counts 1 and
4 are the Downbeats in a Waltz - “6 beat”
UPBEAT: (1) The 2nd and 4th
beats of Music in a MEASURE of 4/4-time music.
(the 2nd beat of each “2-Beat” Dance Rhythm).
(2 ) The 2nd and 3rd beats of
music in each “3-Beat” Dance Rhythm -.( each MEASURE
of 3/4-time music).
(also see: MEASURE, DANCE RHYTHMS)
(1)Pressing the free foot into the floor
as the body continues to move, producing a firm
resistance between the foot and the floor.
(also see: SLIDE)
(1)The foot action that connects the "Sending"
foot to the CPB. (2) "Drive" is a
"Horizontal" move. (level, smooth, no up or down
(also see: PRESS, TRACTION, VERTICAL RHYTHM)
(1) When a Single Performer drops to the
floor, head below normal waist level, as in a "sit"
drop. (2) In a Couple Routine, when one
partner supports the other who is being lowered toward
the floor. (3) 2005 Note from WSDC suggests that
Drops are no longer considered an acrobatic move and
drops should not be eliminated from basic competition,
even when no lifts are allowed.
EAST COAST SWING -
(1) A generic term that covers an entire
"family" of Swing Dancing where both partners do
a “Back - Forward” - rocking away from each other
(opposition resistance) on the "rock step.” (2)
A Rhythm Dance that has "6-beat" patterns, "8-beat"
patterns and "4-beat" Rhythm Breaks, originally danced
to Big Band Music. Today, East Coast Swing is danced to
more than just Big Band music. It is danced to
Contemporary music, Country, and Rock & Roll. The latest
trend is to also dance it to slower music (like the
Blues), and to add syncopations at the slower tempos.
Historical Note: East Coast Swing was
originally called "Eastern Swing" by the Arthur
Murray Studios, who first recognized and organized the
concept of uniform teaching. East Coast Swing
(name evolvement between 1975 and 1980), became the
new name, following the change of "Western" to "West
Coast" in the early 1960s.
(also see: DANCE DENTIFICATION CHART, LINDY,
SHAG, NEW YORKER, WEST COAST SWING)
ELASTIC RESPONSE - see RUBBER BAND EFFECT
(1) "A component, part or quality that is basic or
essential." (Webster's New World Dictionary)
ELEMENTS of MOVEMENT -
(1) The essential, individual components of
MOVEMENT that create excellence in the dance. (2)
A "GSDTA" Teaching Module that isolates the
"Elements" that have to do with how each
movement of the body either contributes to, or
detracts from, our dancing capabilities.
(also see: CENTERING, COMPRESSION, CONNECTION,
FOOTWORK, LEVERAGE, PRESS, RESISTANCE, SWIVEL)
ELEMENTS of MUSIC and TIMING -
(1) The essential, individual components of MUSIC
that connect the dancer to the music in a way that
makes the dancer the "visual part of the music.”
(2) A "GSDTA" Teaching Module that
isolates the various Elements of Music and Timing
that have to do with connecting the Dancer to
(also see: COUNT, DANCE MUSIC, PHRASING, RHYTHM,
TIME SIGNATURE, TIMING)
(1) Refers to the Choreography of the first
few bars of music, prior to an actual routine.
(2) Sometimes refers to what the dancers do as they
enter the floor even without Music. (3) In
judging for competition, an entrance can simply mean
"how the dancers start their routine.”
(also see: ENTRY)
(1) A "One
Unit" or "Two Unit" preparation that precedes a
specific pattern. (2) A "transition" unit that
allows partners to get into (or out of) a "SAME FOOT"
Pattern for a "Side by Side." (3) Could also
be a synonym for entrance.
(also see: ENTRANCE)
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary ( August, 1994 edition)
states: (1) "That which makes something what it
IS." (2) "The inward nature or true substance of
anything.”. (3) Intrinsic, fundamental nature,
or the most important quality. (4) The
indispensable conceptual characteristics and relations
ESSENCE of a Dance -(Skippy Blair
(1) The quality that allows us to identify the
dance, even if we could not hear the music (2) In
DANCE, we define "Essence" as that particular "Look"
or "Feeling" that separates one dance from another (3)
The feeling that the dancer experiences when he connects
to a piece of music, while executing the specific dance
form of that specific music. . (4) Many dances
have similar STEP PATTERNS, but it is the
difference, not the similarity, that identifies the
"Essence" of a dance. (5) Essence defines
the "flavor,” "excitement" and "individuality” of a
The "ESSENCE" of a new Dance requires
focusing on the differences" rather than the
"similarities" to dances which are already familiar.
Through the years, the professional dance community has
taken many “sidetracks” - simply because they identified
something new - as something they already knew. Today
we recognize that Salsa is NOT Mambo on the wrong beat -
that Country Two Step was NOT Foxtrot starting in
the wrong place - and that Niteclub Two Step is neither
a Samba nor a Rumba.
ETIQUETTE - (Dance Etiquette) -
(1) Correct Social Interaction at a
place where people dance. Good manners should
prevail in any social situation. (2) MEN: If you
ask a girl to dance and she does not do well, cut back
on your level of difficulty. A dance should
start out with something very basic and progress only at
the rate that she seems to follow you. It is
unacceptable behavior to "instruct" her on how to
follow you, or criticize ANY part of her dancing. If
she does something other than what you led, smile and
take credit for the pattern. No matter what - Be a
gentleman. (3) WOMEN: Accept a dance gracefully.
Good, bad or indifferent, make those "3 minutes"
memorable. In class, or out, it is unacceptable
behavior to "teach" someone something unless you are
the teacher and he is the student. Even then, do NOT
teach on the social dance floor.
(A) There are many people who get frustrated
with classes and fear asking someone to dance
because of the criticism that follows. There is an
old saying from Studio days: "Behind every man who
can't dance, is a lady who told him he couldn't dance .”
(B) On the other hand, there are many female dancers
who "dance scared.” They look hesitant
and not sure of their dancing, because of constant
criticism. It is the responsibility of the teacher
to also teach dance "manners.” (B) Seasoned Teachers
respect these same rules. A "New" teacher
will often offer assistance to casual dance partners in
an effort to "give" them something. Frequently it
is NOT considered a gift - and not appreciated.
EVEN RHYTHM -
(1) An EVEN number of WEIGHT
CHANGES. Two beats of music that start with one foot
free and end with the same foot free. (2)
"Double Rhythm" and any form of Double Rhythm (Delayed,
Syncopated) are all EVEN RHYTHMS. A "Blank"
Unit is also an "EVEN RHYTHM" (Same Foot free
at the end of the rhythm). "Even” Rhythms are
interchangeable with any other "Even” Rhythm.
(3) DOUBLE RHYTHM is an Even Rhythm. In Basic
Double Rhythm, the CPB centers over each foot
(also see: ODD RHYTHM)
(1) The last few bars of music when the dancers
end their routine leaving the floor. (2) A
"Two Unit" Exit sometimes refers to the last four
beats of a specific pattern. This is necessary when a
pattern needs an “exit” to return to the proper foot, or
to segway into another dance pattern.
EXCHANGE ( Rhythm Exchange) -
(1) Rule of RHYTHM EXCHANGE: Any EVEN Rhythm can
be easily exchanged for any other EVEN Rhythm.
Any ODD Rhythm can be easily exchanged for
any other ODD Rhythm. EXAMPLE: In West Coast Swing,
a popular Rhythm Exchange is to dance a “Tap
Step” to replace a Triple Rhythm. A “Kick & Step-Step”
can replace any Double Rhythm.
Rules of “Rhythm Exchange” are a great
help when doing choreography. After the basic “Odd for
an Odd and Even for an Even” there is the upper level
rule that allows you to change an Odd for an Even
(or an Even for an Odd) as long as you do it
twice. That puts you back on the correct foot.
Unlimited variations in Swing and Modern Jazz have come
about through the simple rules of Rhythm Exchange.
EXTENDED RHYTHMS -
(1) Putting 2 additional weight changes in
any PRIMARY RHYTHM UNIT. (2) "Extended" Rhythms
are all Syncopations, but they are "Named"
syncopations, which allows them to be more easily
identified. (3) An "EXTENDED DOUBLE" = FOUR
steps to 2 Beats of Music. An EXTENDED
TRIPLE = FIVE steps to 2 Beats of Music. There is
no Extended Single because an Extended Single would
become a "TRIPLE."
(also see: RHYTHM CHART)
EXTENDED STEP PATTERN -
(1) Refers to making a "6-Beat" Pattern into
an "8-Beat" Pattern (or more). Extended Patterns
"extend" in increments of 2 Beats each. (2) A
Continuous Whip is an extended pattern that places
the extension within the framework of the pattern. The
extension starts on the third rhythm in the pattern. The
third rhythm is DOUBLE RHYTHM (“5-6”) and can be
repeated several times. (3) An Underarm Turn
usually extends at the END of the pattern. Either
partner can place a firm hand during the anchor on
“5&a6” and then push themselves away for a tight
“&a7-hold 8.” (4) Extensions are a comfortable
way to phrase to the music.
FAD DANCES - Those dances which enjoy a SHORT
period of popularity. (Usually classified in a
particular ERA). Charleston, Twist,
Hustle, Disco, Bossa Nova, Lambada etc. (Some
dances, such as Cha-Cha, start out as a "Fad" dance, but
their popularity stays and they become Standards).
Hustle, after several years of metamorphosis,
has actually achieved "Standard " status.
(also see: CHA-CHA, CHARLESTON, LAMBADA, HUSTLE)
(1) A term used when someone actually does a
legitimate move, but does not understand what
took place. (2) Being able to understand what
takes place, allows you to repeat the move at a
future time. (3) Example: Going from an
Opposite foot move to a Same foot move
requires doing a RHYTHM CHANGE for one of the
partners. Exchanging an ODD RHYTHM for an EVEN
RHYTHM does the job. (4) Many great
pattern variations are produced from someone who
creatively “Fakes it.”
(1) A circular sweep of the free foot on the floor.
It can be an independent move initiated from the
leg, or a total body move, where the
connection of the leg to the CPB rotates the
body into a Pivot turn.
(also see: HEEL FANS, TOE FANS)
FEATHER AWARD -
(1) The annual Award Ceremony that honored
dancers from all over the world - some for their
dedication to the dance, some for their expertise, and
some for exceptional performance. (2) These
awards, nominated by a prestigious panel, were
voted on by the general dancing public. (3) CAY
CANNON, originator of the Awards, made an invaluable
contribution to the dance world with this magnificent,
star-studded event. (see Author’s Feather Award (Skippy
Bio) at conclusion of Terminology Notebook)
FIGURE FOUR - A move that places the free foot
near the knee of the weighted foot forming the
appearance of a FIGURE FOUR.
Make sure the pattern being done really
requires a figure four. A figure four is
frequently NOT the most desirable look for the
pattern being danced. In a KICK SWIVEL, if the
pressure of the weighted foot swivels BEFORE the
return of the free foot, both knees will be facing
the same direction, the execution of the pattern
will be sharper and cleaner, and there will be no
FLASH BREAKS -
(1) Special "Stops" - "Poses" - "Drops" -
"Lifts" - "Freezes" (2) Dramatic pauses in
the dance that coincide with the dramatic pauses in the
(also see: BREAKS)
FLASHLIGHT TECHNIQUE -
(1) A "Centering" technique, particularly helpful
in WEST COAST SWING, for learning flexibility in
the dance. (2) It also teaches the Follower to
stay Centered to her partner, even at a very
BASIC stage of development. The same technique relates
to many dances.
Have both partners imagine that they each have a
Flashlight in their CPB, and that each of them should
keep that Light focused on the CPB of the
other partner. This basic technique adds control and
form to even beginner Dancers.
(also see: CENTERING)
(1) A term used to denote that all of the body
weight is distributed over the entire foot by the time
the weight change has taken place (Like landing on all 4
wheels of a roller skate). (2) Many "Triples"
are danced "Flat and toe flat", as in Samba or
(also see: HEEL LEAD, TOE LEAD)
FLEA HOP -
(1) A series of little hops where the Left
foot hops to the RIGHT and the Right foot hops to
the LEFT. The "CALL is: "Hop Step & Hop Step" to a
count of “&a1 &a2.” (2) Flea Hop was originally
made popular in the 1940s by Hollywood comedian PINKY
(also see: HOP)
(1) The degree of movement exhibited in
the joints and muscles.
GSDTA has specific exercises that increase
the Flexibility that is desirable for a dancer.. The
Warm-Up exercises used in many Dance Classes not only
increase Flexibility in the body, but also increases
coordination which sharpens the mind and retards the
(1) An ACTION of the ankle of the Free Foot. (2)
An extended Free Foot gives an extra "flip,” from the
ankle, making an upward move on a beat of music.
(also see: STRIKE)
FLOATING ANCHOR -
(1) A form of anchor in West Coast Swing
(usually done by a follower) that swivels on a
diagonal on counts "5&a6" and then swivels again to face
her partner before starting a new pattern. (2)
Old-timers would recognize this style variation as the
original "Coaster Step.” (Not the Coaster of today.)
(also see: COASTER)
FLOOR CRAFT -
(1) The ability of a competition or show dancer
to make use of the floor in a way that
enhances the dance. (2) Being able to dance
around the floor without interfering with other
dancers on the floor.
FLOOR PATTERN - see PATTERN
FLYING LINDY (Flyin' Lindy) -
(1) A step pattern done in West Coast Swing,
East Coast Swing and Lindy. It gets the name
"FLYING" from the fact that the combination of
centrifugal force and speed propels the body into a
circular motion that forces a series of hops and leaps
to replace the standard rhythm of the Whip. This
"lifted" action makes the partners seem literally
(also see: LINDY)
FOLK DANCING -
(1) Routines of various cultures that have been
handed down from generation to generation, danced to
traditional music from the country of origin.
FOLLOW (Following) -
(1) The act of moving a fraction of a second
later than the leader, and yet still be on time. (2)
"Following" is accomplished in different ways for
different dances, but certain concepts remain the same.
Reaction to a "Lead" is the act of following.
(also see: LEAD)
FOOT PLACEMENT - A deliberate "action"
that results in a weight change that ideally falls into
a correct foot position.
(also see: FOOT POSITIONS, FOOTWORK)
FOOT POSITIONS -
(1) How the feet are placed in relationship to
each other. (2) The Five Basic Foot Positions and
their extensions make a big difference in the level of
performance of ANY kind of dancing.
1st: Feet Together, Heels touching and
toes about a thumb's-width apart.
2nd: Direct Side, Feet apart with the same
extra distance between toes, rather than the heels.
3rd: Heel to Instep at an angle that allows both
knees to face forward when (and if) they are bent.
4th: A Walking Step, one foot in front of
the other, with a line through the center of the heel
and the center of the big toe.
5th: Toe of one foot placed behind the Heel of the
(2) Hook and Cross are also Foot Positions.
(3) Ballet Foot Positions use the same description,
except that the turnout is extreme. (4) Jazz
foot positions sometimes use the opposite
extreme. In Jazz, 1st foot position
frequently has both heels and toes touching each
The use of Jazz Foot Positions is not a good
idea in Social Dancing because of the "toed in" approach
that creates a balance problem.
(also see: CROSS, FOOT POSITION CHART, HOOK, LOCK)
(1) The proper use of FOOT PLACEMENT (Foot
Positions) that takes place between one foot
placement and the next. (2) Control of the FREE
FOOT is as important as the placement of the weighted
foot in assessing a dancer's footwork.
(also see: FOOT POSITION CHART, FREE FOOT)
FORCE POINT -
(1) The part of the anatomy that initiates the
action. (2) Putting power into a foot or a hand
or a hip to isolate the driving force and energy
that gives precision and form to a movement.
(also see: CENTER POINT of BALANCE)
A direction that indicates 4th foot
position directly in front of - or directly behind
- the currently weighted foot.
Teaching Note: In the Universal Unit
System and Sheet Music for Dancers - the
annotation uses simple, one letter "direction." using
only a capital "F" for
(also see: BACK, SIDE)
(1) In any given Era, the Basic SOCIAL DANCE,
danced to 4/4 time Music, alternating or mixing
“Single Rhythm" and Double Rhythm,” or danced
with one rhythm alone. (2) There are many varieties
and styles danced at any given time, but the basic
"Rhythm Patterns" will be similar for "American,”
"International,” "Latin,” "Country,” "Niteclub" or
"Ballroom.” Foxtrot will assume various names, according
to the country of origin and the era. Slow Dancing, Two
Step, Peabody, Westchester, Salsa, Slicker Dancing, etc.
all fit the criteria. (3) AMERICAN Foxtrot uses
BOX RHYTHM (alternating Double and Single Rhythm)
and BASIC RHYTHM ( one Double Rhythm and two
Single Rhythm Units), PLUS Rhythm Breaks of all
DOUBLE or all SINGLE Rhythm. (4) INTERNATIONAL
SLOW FOXTROT is a competition form of Foxtrot and
uses a "CALL" that involves Quicks and Slows. However,
the term "SLOW" in an International sense does
not always fit with the standard terminology for
a SLOW. In International terminology a SLOW sometimes
steps on the Downbeat, but frequently steps only on the
Upbeat. (5) COUNTRY TWO STEP is a form of Foxtrot
to Country Music. The CALL is "Quick-Quick, Slow, Slow,”
with a toe lead on the Quicks and a Heel lead on the
(A) GSDTA has discovered that all Foxtrot
patterns are easier to teach, and flow more smoothly
to the music, if ALL of the patterns begin with the
DOUBLE RHYTHM UNIT. (B) GSDTA Teachers prefer the
use of COUNTS, rather than Quicks and Slows
because research has shown that students learn faster,
and can reach higher levels of performance when they can
identify with the beats in the music.
Historical Note: "FOXTROT" is so named because
of the influence of Harry Fox, a New York
Vaudeville entertainer. In 1913-14, Harry starred
in a Flo Ziegfeld production and his little
"Trotting" steps were a show-stopper. However, Oscar
Duryea, a popular Dance Instructor of the day, actually
introduced the dance to the public. He used Fox's
routine from the show, but added some Walking steps
(Single Rhythm) in order to make it more danceable and
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, NITECLUB
FOXTROT, QUICK-QUICK, SLOW, TWO STEP)
(1) The firm posture that connects the dancers
arms to the trunk of the body to form one solid but
flexible base. (2) Proper frame requires the
shoulder blades to be pulled back and DOWN. (The
Key word here is DOWN). The "Down" movement lifts
the CPB and "frees" the shoulders. (3) Correct
"frame" telegraphs the "lead" to the partner that is
(also see: CENTERING, CONNECTION, RESISTANCE)
FREE FOOT -
(1) The un-weighted foot. (2) The foot
that is about to leave the floor. (3) "Even"
Rhythm Units leave the same foot free. "Odd" Rhythm
Units leave the opposite foot free.
The action of the "FREE FOOT" is crucial
in establishing the character of the dance. In
Box Rumba, on count “3” of the pattern, the
free foot is still in 4th Foot position. In Foxtrot,
on count “3” of the same pattern the feet will be in 1st
or 3rd foot position, according to how the feet pass
each other. Power in the free foot gives the
dancer more control and adds a more professional
look. (an often over-looked technique point).
FREE STYLE -
(1) Dancing alone, or DANCING with a partner in
front of you, but not in contact.
(1) A complete stop or “pose.” (2) In the SHIM
SHAM, the 2nd time through, the dancers "FREEZE" all of
the breaks until counts "7&8.” (3) There are
several LINE DANCES, (some old - some new) that
incorporate "poses" for as long as 3 or 4 beats of
(also see: SHIM SHAM)
FRENCH CROSS -
(1) A "Side Cross Back" in the "Followers"
part of a "6 count" pattern in West Coast Swing. (2)
This name and description was popular in the 1960s.
The more modern adaptation of this move is now
called a "Pull Cross" because of the up-dated technique.
(1) A smooth, projected movement, with the free
foot barely skimming the floor as it moves toward the
next foot placement. (2) An "ESSENCE" description
of how to do the technique for SLICKER DANCING.
(also see: SLICKER DANCING)
Golden State Dance
(1) A “not for
profit “ organization dedicated to the education and
development of Dance Training through research and
discovery. The organization focuses on "Rules of
Movement" and "Rules of Music and Timing".
The pursuit of that knowledge led to the discovery and
development of the "Universal Unit System"®. (2)
GSDTA currently provides on-going "Up-Date" Training
and optional testing for Teachers and Judges (since
1961) . Certification is accepted by many
Colleges, Park Districts, the Dance Dynamics
Certification Board and the World Swing
Dance Council . (3) National Headquarters
for GSDTA has been in Downey, California since 1961 and
continues to run it's offices from that location. Member
"Associates" are all over the world. (4) GSDTA
and teachers associated with GSDTA are responsible for
the information and dissemination of information that
made this publication possible.
(1) A series of steps that travel to the side,
alternating "Cross Behinds” and “Crosses in front.”
Example: "Side - Cross Behind, Side - Cross in Front.”
Repeat until the desired number of beats of music
has been completed ( Partner will be dancing Natural
Opposite. (2) A Grapevine requires both a
Back Cross and a Front Cross to be complete. It
requires 4 weight changes. Grapevines are
considered a natural RHYTHM BREAK and are used in some
form in a variety of social dances.
(also see: RHYTHM BREAK, VINE)
(1) Dancing half as fast as the Music.
(2) Particularly in West Coast Swing, dancers will
"Half Time" a very fast piece of music by counting
only the Downbeats as a count. (3)
Example: A Whip is an "8 Beat" pattern. Dancing in
"Half Time", the same pattern would take 16 beats of
music to complete.
HEAVY MEASURE -
(1) The 1st measure in a Mini-Phrase of
8 beats of 4/4-time music. (2) The 1st measure
in a Mini-Phrase of 6 beats of 3/4-time music.
(also see: LIGHT MEASURE, MEASURE, MINI-PHRASE)
HEEL CLICKS - An action where the weight is on
the balls of both feet and the heels lift from
the floor and hit each other.
(also see: HEEL FAN)
HEEL FAN - A move where the weight stays on the
ball of the foot and the heels move out and back.
(also see: TOE FAN)
HEEL LEAD - A heel lead places the FORWARD
half of the heel onto the floor and then transfers
the weight onto the rest of the foot.
Concentration on the forward half of the heel
puts tone and power into the "Receiving Foot".
Landing on the BACK of the heel inhibits body
flow and puts the dancer slightly "off time" with
(also see: TOE LEAD)
HEEL PIVOTS -
(1) A move where one foot steps back behind the
other foot to initiate a pivot that will turn in the
direction of the forward foot. (2) Heel Pivots only
occur when stepping back. (3) Some Heel Pivots
require bringing both feet together and turning on the
heels of both feet at the same time. This is
usually done in Foxtrot and Waltz. (4) Heel
Pivots are currently (2005) popular in West Coast
Swing because of the interest in Whip Pivots.
(also see: PIVOT)
(1) A traveling move (either Left or
Right) where the weight alternates between being on
both toes and then moving onto both heels.
This move was popular in the 1940's in Jitterbug and
also became popular in LINE DANCES.
(1) A "Pause" on one foot that takes more
than one beat of music. Frequently called a "Balance"
Step. (2) Any "Single Rhythm" Measure in
WALTZ. (3) Hesitation sometimes refers to a
specific School Figure.
(also see: SINGLE RHYTHM, RHYTHM CHART)
HIP CONTROL -
(1) Control of muscles in the abdomen that are
connected to the hip. (2) There are 3 levels of
HIP CONTROL, the most difficult being NEUTRAL.
In addition to NEUTRAL, there is a CUBAN HIP
and a CAMEL HIP. In the training of dancers,
loose hips are the hardest to control. NEUTRAL is
the most difficult and is a preferred effect in many
Neutral hips are preferable to "out of control"
hips. Learning to control the hips with the abdominal
muscles creates a smooth professional look, rather
than the up and down movement that is created by
alternating bent knees.
(also see: CAMEL HIP, CUBAN HIP, NEUTRAL HIP)
HISTORICAL In this Publication,
Historical references include bits of information
that are directly connected to fostering better
understanding of the changes that have taken place in
the Teaching and the Dancing of today.
(1) A "Body Action" that "pulls back"
like the pulling of a rubber band . It is part of
several dance forms. Swing "Calls" include "Hitch and
Go" or "Hitch Step-Step" or "Hitch and Run".
(also see: HITCH KICK, FORCE POINT)
HITCH KICK -
(1) A popular Rhythm variation in West Coast
Swing. The "CALL" is "Kick & Step-Step" or
"Hold & Step-Step" (The Hitch refers to the
Body Action - the fact that the body pulls back
slightly, before it releases to step forward on the
"Step-Step.”) It can replace any DOUBLE RHYTHM
in several dances. The name of the RHYTHM is a
It is interesting to note that every Hitch Kick is a
Delayed Double, but every Delayed Double is
not a Hitch Kick.
(also see: DELAYED DOUBLE)
(1) A beat of music where there is no
weight change. (2) A Hold refers to the FREE FOOT
and what the free foot is doing for that beat of
music. (3) In a "2 beat" Unit, the hold can
be on count "1" or count "2.” Example: In RUMBA
there is a "hold" on the 2nd beat of every
SINGLE RHYTHM UNIT. In West Coast Swing, it is
possible to "hold" count "1" and step twice on
“&a2.” This is a "DELAYED DOUBLE".
(also see: DELAYED RHYTHM, RHYTHM CHART, SINGLE
(1) A reference point in the dance. To "return
Home" is to return to where the pattern started,
or where that particular move started. (2)
A popular call also used in Square Dancing and in
LINE DANCES. (3) A return to a starting point in a
specific Style Variation.
HONKY TONK -
(1) A type of Country Dance Hall. (2) A type of
Music that is played in Honky-Tonk Bars. (3) A
form of Country Competition where the contestants
can not do Routines and are not allowed to
wear fancy costumes.
(also see: JUST DANCE)
(1) A foot position that places one
foot behind the other in a way that requires the toe
of the "hooking" foot to come in past the heel and
nestle near the outside of the arch of the other foot.
(also see: FOOT POSITION CHART)
HOOK TRIPLE -
(1) A popular move in Swing, Line Dances and
Jazz Dancing. The CALL for a Hook Triple is:
"Hook & Side Replace" counting "1&a2 - 3&a4.”
(2) The HOOK is an actual "Hook" (also see: foot
positions). The SIDE refers to stepping to the
side (2nd foot position) with very little weight, on the
“a” count.. The REPLACE means placing the free
foot where the forward foot has been. (3) EXAMPLE:
Pick ONE SPOT on the floor. Place your Right
foot ON THAT SPOT. HOOK the LEFT foot behind the
RIGHT foot on "1.” RIGHT foot moves out to the side
(very little weight) on the "a" count. Move the LEFT
foot directly onto the original SPOT on the floor on
count “2.” (3) The Rhythm Pattern for a Hook
Triple is "Triple-Triple.”
(A) A poorly executed Hook Triple will
slightly resemble a "Sailor Shuffle" if you are
only observing the TOP half of the body. However, the
identification is simple if you simply check the
footwork. There is NO SHUFFLE in a Hook
Triple and there is NO HOOK in a Sailor Shuffle.
(also see: "a" COUNT, SAILOR SHUFFLE)
(1) A "HOP" is executed on ONE FOOT.
Standing on one foot, the body elevates (leaves the
floor), either in place or moving, and lands again on
the SAME Foot. (2) Annotation for a "HOP" is
an OPEN CIRCLE, rather than a solid DOT.
(also see: ANNOTATION CHART, JUMP, LEAP, SKIP)
HORIZONTAL RHYTHM -
(1) Movement to a specific count, driving
Forward, Backward or to the Side, in a smooth line,
propelled by the "Sending" foot.
(2) Vertical Rhythm that has been stretched "out"
rather than "up".
(also see: BODY FLIGHT, PRESS, VERTICAL RHYTHM)
HOUSTON WHIP -
(1) A form of Swing, popular in Texas,
that does a "Double Resistance" on the end of
each pattern. (2) MARIO ROBAU, noted dance authority
in Texas-style Swing, describes the form as
double resistance with a circular hip roll for the
Lady, as she executes a "Syncopated Body Rock". (3)
He describes the Basic level as being the
same as DALLAS PUSH. (4) The more advanced
styling of this dance uses a very highly evolved
Rhythm Variation on both the "anchor" of the
previous pattern and the 1st Unit of the
following pattern. The "Anchor" for the Lady only steps
twice: Once on count "5" and again on the "&" count
before "6". Her next step is on the "&" count before
“1.” She holds back for count "1" and steps on the
"&" count before "2" and also ON count
“2.” The entire move is a continuous circular
(also see: DALLAS PUSH, HITCH, RIPPLE, SYNCOPATION)
(1) The Line Dance that started it all in
the movie "Saturday Night Fever.” The Hustle
Line Dance was danced to the music “The Hustle”.
(2) The various forms of "Couple Hustle" that
evolved in the 1970's included the Latin Hustle, New
York Hustle, L.A. Hustle, Street Hustle, Same Foot
Hustle and finally, the "3-Count" Hustle. (3) The
"3-Count" Hustle was probably born out of the fact
that there were several pieces of Hustle Music that were
written in 3/4-time in the late 1970s.
(A) The majority of Hustle Music was (and still is)
written in 4/4-time. The educated pulse and
count is danced in “2-Beat” Rhythms. The 1980s
Hustle was taught as a "3-count" dance, but was
still danced to 4/4-time Music. (B) The
musical COUNT for the Hustle does not change the pattern
structure, but DOES change the Rhythm Pattern and the
Pulse of the dance. (C) A great "experiment" for Hustle
Dancers is to do the "3-Count" Hustle to a
medium fast WALTZ. You will find that the
pulsing of 3/4-time music FITS the Dance. The
musical count for the Hustle is attracting
favorable attention because of its strong connection
to the music, which makes the dancer FEEL the
rhythm and excitement of the music. The RHYTHM PATTERN
is “Double - Syncopated Triple - Rolling Triple.” Each
basic pattern is six beats of music.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Counting Hustle in “2-Beat”
rhythms achieved wide popularity through
the early efforts of Jamie and Gail Arias, and
Tom Mattox. Along with other dedicated GSDTA
teachers, these three worked hard to help
develop, promote, and exhibit what is sometimes referred
to as "CALIFORNIA HUSTLE.”
(also see: MELANGE, NEW YORK HUSTLE, PULSE, SAME
(1) Bracing the knees back or bracing the elbows back
too far produces hyper-extension. Straightening
the knee does not mean hyper-extend. Straighten
means to stretch them out, but not back.
IMPERIAL SWING - According to the words of
MARIE COOK, a 22 year veteran of the St. Louis
Imperial Dance Club, Imperial Swing is a highly
stylized form of East Coast Swing. The
identifying characteristic is the 1st Triple which
travels forward in 3rd Foot Position.
(also see: East Coast Swing, Dance Identification
INSIDE ROLL (Inside Turn) -
(1) A variation of a Whip in West Coast Swing.
On count "3" of a Whip, the man places his Left hand
upward toward his Right shoulder. That leads the Lady
into a Left Turn, under her own Right Hand.
(2) The word "Inside" implies a direction
and that direction is clear in the case of the Whip. (3)
Used in other situations some definitions describe
the Inside Roll as any time the man's
hand comes between him and his partner to lead her
into a turn (Inside Turn). Some describe the action of
turning to the center of the room as an "Inside
BOTH of the above descriptions confuse the issue
because the dancer can be led into a Left Turn or a
Right Turn from the same position, depending on
which hand is doing the leading. GSDTA strongly
recommends staying with the terms "Left Turn" and
"Right Turn," rather than “inside” or “outside”
(also see: RULE, TOOL, TURN)
INTERNATIONAL DANCE -
(1) There is a whole world of International dance
that is geared to International Competition. It is a
highly technical form with performances geared to
technical precision. (2) This subject is
included here to acknowledge those who participate in
this particular discipline.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: International Dance has a
discipline all it's own. This book is devoted to
American Ballroom, Latin, West Coast Swing, Motion Study
and Line Dancing. International dancers however, have
gleaned a lot of information that is not only
compatible, but also helpful in every aspect of their
discipline - particularly in the area of critical
(also see: FOXTROT, TANGO, WALTZ)
Short for "Introduction." The start of the Music, and/or
the opening of a dance routine (usually 8 or 16 beats
of music). In choreography, it is very acceptable to
dance an entirely different style for the INTRO.
Example: a "16-Beat" Charleston "Intro" before a
Quickstep routine, or a "32-Beat" JAZZ "intro" for a
SWING Dance Routine.
(also see: EXIT)
INVERTED UNITS -
(1) Inverted Units are described in the 1st
edition of "Disco to Tango & Back" as a Rhythm Unit
that reverses the usual order of Downbeats and Upbeats.
The INVERTED Unit started with the Upbeat
first (Inverted Units were necessary to accommodate
the “2 3 - 4&1” that was the popular method of teaching
Cha-Cha in the 1950s and '60s). The count graduated to
"2 3 - 4&5 - 6 7 - 8&1.” That count is still in
use today and that count is still a popular choice for
teaching dancers how to START ON count "2.” GSDTA no
longer uses or needs Inverted Units. PLEASE read the
following Teaching Note.
The Inverted Unit ("2,3 - 4&1") has been
replaced since the discovery of real musical
count: "&a12 - 3 4 - &a56 - 7 8". This latest
form of teaching produces dancers that not only start on
the correct beat, but are able to stay on the correct
beat of music throughout the entire dance. Dancers who
learn the correct Dance Rhythms, consistently break on
count "2” and count “6.”
(also see: CHA-CHA, MAMBO, MAMBOLERO)
JACK & JILL -
(1) A form of Swing Dance Competition
where the dancers do not know in advance who
their partner will be. A name or number is randomly
drawn to determine the partnership. It is called
"Luck of the Draw.” (2) In 1994, the Jack
and Jill Competition reached National
Championship status. The stakes were high and
the "Luck of the draw" was interpreted in a
different way. Most Championships now allow two draws
for individual "Call Backs" in the Preliminaries.
Finalists are usually judged as couples.
Historical Note: At HANK & STANS in
NORWALK, California (circa early 1950s), JACK CAREY
ran weekly Swing Dance Contests. The top dancers always
won, and pretty soon the contestants narrowed down to 3
or 4 top couples. They always won all of the money. New
dancers were difficult to recruit. Jack wanted to
encourage a variety of new dancers to participate. He
had them put their names in a hat and draw for
partners.. He called this new kind of contest a “Jack
and Jill.” They have now been around more than 50 years.
JAZZ SQUARE -
(1) A square-shaped Floor Pattern that has
four weight changes on the corners. (2) Example: "Cross
Right over Left, Back Left, Side Right, Forward Left"
and repeat. The pattern can start at any point of
the square. The two basic forms include:. (2-a)
"Forward Left, Cross Right over Left, Back Left, Step
Side Right" (2-b) “Forward Right, Cross Left over
Right, Back Right, Step Side Left”
(also see: DIAMOND)
(1) A bouncy form of East Coast Swing,
danced to Big Band Music. (2) Popular in the early
1940's, this dance is immediately recognizable in old
movies by the “Flyin’ Dutchman” - lifting the
girl onto the man's right hip, then left hip, then down
between his legs, followed by straight up in the air.
(3) Jitterbug is frequently described as the
“athletic” form of swing dancing. (4) This style
persisted into the 1950s with a slight change of
music, becoming more Rock & Roll style Swing. (5)
In the 1990s, that style was perpetuated by the
"Rhythm Hotshots" from Sweden and the Lindy
Hoppers from New York City.
Historical Note: The 1940s era saddle shoes
and the 1950s poodle skirts are synonymous with the
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The late 1930s and
early’40s was my introduction (Revision pending)
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, EAST COAST
(1) An International style of Swing from the family
of EAST COAST SWING. It has a "Bouncing
Rhythm" that is danced to fast Swing Music. (2)
A highly stylized form of Swing, developed abroad for
International style Competitions.
Historical Note: "Jive" had it's
origin in America in the Jitterbug era. However
International Jive mixes the jumping "JIVE"
style, usually reserved for teenagers, with Las Vegas
style Latin Costumes and High Heels - a very
different look and different dance than any other form
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, SWING)
JUDGING PANEL -
(1) A group of people that have been trained
to place contestants in order of level of performance.
In many instances they are even required to justify
their decisions. (2) All Dance Organizations
have a judges training program.
Golden State Dance Teachers Association
trained dance judges for more than 20 years. In
2003, the Dance Dynamics Certification Board
(NDDCB) was formed specifically to conduct Certification
Training for Judges. This was approved by the World
Swing Dance Council and supported by GSDTA. (3)
ANNIE HIRSCH, the most sought after "Chairman of
Judges" for Swing competitions, is also chairman of the
World Swing Dance Council. She is one of the
pioneers who pushed toward better training and
fairness in judging Swing Competitions.
NDDCB Judges Certification Training focuses on
Elements of Movement and Elements of Music. That
training allows Judges to divorce themselves from
personal "style" or name recognition and to recognize
the level of every performance, as well as the
“elements of music and movement that determine that
(also see: ELEMENTS of MOVEMENT, ELEMENTS of MUSIC)
A movement whereby the body leaves the floor
either starting or ending on BOTH feet.
(also see: HOP, LEAP, SCOOT)
JUST DANCE - (currently being replaced with the term
(1) A popular form of COMPETITION where all of
the couples dance at the same time to the same
music. Costumes and Routines are not allowed. This
is a popular form for "entry level" competitors
who would rather not learn routines
(also see: STRICTLY)
KENNY SHAG (Kenny "Speed Shag") - see ST. LOUIS SHAG
KEY UNIT -
(1) The most difficult Unit in any dance pattern.
(2) The “Key” that unlocks the secret of what makes
that specific pattern work.
Isolating and practicing the KEY UNIT of
any pattern reduces learning time and intensifies the
most technical part of that specific pattern.
(also see: UNIT)
(1) In Social Dance Terminology a "Kick" means a
movement with the FREE FOOT, usually
projecting out from the knee, but staying
close to the floor. (2) The FORCE POINT
for a "Kick" is in the big toe, pointing DOWN
for good footwork. (3) There is also a kick
that requires a free swing from the hip. (as in a Push
Break "variation" in West Coast Swing).
Any form of a kick achieves a more polished look
when using Rolling Count. The kick goes out on the
beat of the music, but needs the “&” count as a time
frame for the kick to return, before taking the next
step. Try these examples: (A) Say “Kick step-step” - and
then do “Kick step-step.” The count will fall on
“1&2.” (B) Now say: “Kick & step-step” as you actually
dance the “Kick & step-step.” The kick is far more
comfortable and professional when it has time to return
(on the &) before the “step-step.”
(also see: AIR SHUFFLE, FOOTWORK, PUSH BREAK)
KICK SWIVEL -
(1) A KICK with the free foot, followed by a
swivel on the weighted foot. This allows
both knees to be facing the same direction
before changing weight. (2) Kick Swivels are used
in SWING, CHA-CHA, LINE DANCES and many other
forms of dance.
If the SWIVEL does not take place before the
free foot returns the free leg will form a figure
four. This indicates that the swivel was late.
(also see: SWIVEL)
KICK WHIP (Carey's Whip) -
(1) A specific style of Whip in West
Coast Swing, made famous by JACK CAREY of
Corona Del Mar, California. (2) ). LEADER’S
Pattern: "Back Left, turn Right" on "1 2" - "Lift
the Left Knee" on "3" and step "Side Left"
on "4" - "Stay in place and kick Right foot
forward" on "5" - "Rotate Right" (centered
over the left foot) on "&a" before "6" and "Kick back
Right" on "6" - "Anchor" on "7&a8.”
The FOLLOWER dances a standard WHIP:
"Forward, Forward" on "1 2" - (turn right on "&a"),
"Back, Together, Forward" on "3&a4" - (turn right
on "&a"), "Back, Back" on "5 6" - "Anchor in
Place" on "7&a8." It is important that she
really move "Back" on count "5,” as this action
turns the man around.
(also see: RELEASE WHIP)
KNEE BRACE -
(1) The "action" of pressing the back
of the knees backward, without hyper-extending. This
action is used in the Moon Walk and certain
patterns in West Coast Swing. (2) The "brace" action
tightens the leg as it braces the knee. Pushing
the knee back too far can injure the knee.
(also see: KNEE POPS, MOON WALK)
KNEE POPS -
(1) A stylized move, popular in LINE DANCES and
in Swing stylings. (2) BOTH knees "pop" forward
on the beat of the music. (3) In Alternating Knee
Pops, one knee "pops" forward while the other braces
(also see: KNEE BRACE, MOON WALK)
(1) A "Fad" dance that had a bright but short
life in the late 1980s and early 1990s. (2) The
RHYTHM PATTERN is " Double - Single - Double -
Single". The "Call" is “Step Together - & Step hit
-Step Together - & Step hit.” (3) The "Essence" of
the dance was the Hip Styling which used a smooth
Cuban hip on each "Step Together" and then a
combination hip on the "Step Hit." Each "Single Rhythm"
had a Cuban hip (on counts “3” and “7” - followed by an
accented "Camel Hip" on counts “4” and “8.”
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Lambada was a beautiful
dance that was short lived. First, there was not
enough Lambada music to make it viable. Second, media
exposure focused on untrained dancers who portrayed the
dance as vulgar and ugly. Larry Kern and I made a
Lambada Video that was very popular, portraying the
musicality and beauty of the dance.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
LAMINU (Lambnu) -
A Slow-Tempo Dance, popular with Dance Teachers in the
1950s. The Movement Unit is "Down-Down" with a
rhythmic lilt like that of Samba. The Rhythm
Pattern is "Double-Triple-Double-Triple.” The
Step Pattern is: "Back Left-Forward Right &
Forward Side Together " - "Forward Right-Back Left &
Back Side Together.”
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
LATIN DANCES - Standard Latin Dances include
Bolero, Cha-Cha, Mambo, Mambolero, Merengue,
Rumba, Samba, and Tango. Salsa has recently entered
the arena as a standard Latin Dance. Tango is the
only Latin dance that is not a Rhythm Dance.
(also see: CHA-CHA, MAMBOBOLERO, MAMBO, MERENGUE,
RUMBA, SALSA, SAMBA, TANGO)
(1) A LEAD is an INDICATION of direction. (2)
A "Lead" should come from "Body Resistance" and
connection of Frame (CPB), rather than strength
from arm leads. (3) Most "leads" take place on
the "&a" count prior to the beat. Some leads actually
start on the Rhythm Unit before the move.
(also see: FOLLOW, SIGNAL)
A movement where the body leaves the floor, propelled by
the "Sending Foot," and ends solidly on the "Receiving
(also see: SENDING FOOT, RECEIVING FOOT, HOP, JUMP)
LEFT SIDE PASS -
(1) A Swing Pattern that leads the Lady
from front to back, past the man's Left side.
(2) A "6-Beat" Step Pattern with a Basic Rhythm
of "Double, Triple, Triple".
This is one of the most crucial patterns
for the LEADER to learn in any style of SWING, but
particularly West Coast Swing. If the pattern is
missed, or not mastered, the more complicated
patterns that follow become difficult to lead.. Many
advanced patterns come from that basic move. The Left
Side Pass, in it’s classic form, teaches body
lead on the “&a,” leverage, and control of the CPB on
(also see: CONTROL, DRIVE, LEVERAGE)
LEFT SINGLE -
(1) A "Step Touch", "Step Kick", "Step Hold" or
any step on the Downbeat that is followed by an action
on the Upbeat. (2) Two beats of music, in
4/4-time, with only one weight change that takes
place on the Downbeat (count "1") of the “2-Beat”
(also see: LEFT UNIT)
LEFT TRIPLE -
(1) Three steps to two beats of music,
starting and ending on the Left foot. (2) A Left
Triple begins with the Left foot free and ends with the
Right foot free.
(also see: ODD RHYTHM, TRIPLE RHYTHM )
LEFT UNIT (Left Rhythm) -
(1) A "Left Unit" keeps the Center Point of
Balance (CPB) over the Left foot for the
entire two beats of music. (2) At a Basic
level, a Left Single or a Left Triple. (3) At
an advanced level, an Extended Double could be a
Left Unit, if the Center Point of Balance
stays over the Left foot for the entire Dance Rhythm.
Knowing where to center the CPB in each Rhythm Unit
allows the dancer to become more professional. Teach a
student to think in terms of where to place the CPB
rather than simply where to place the foot.
(also see: CENTERING, "ODD" RHYTHM, UNIT)
LESSON PLAN -
(1) A written plan that includes the objectives
as well as the Patterns to be used to teach the
class. (2) A chart that keeps track of what the
students are expected to learn, along with the
process that will accomplish the objectives. (3)
Part of the lesson plan should include the music that
will be used for the lessons - and the breakdown
(phrasing) of that music.
(1) An away action that requires a "reaction.”
(2) Leverage is an "Away" resistance that
reaches a point where each person's balance is
dependent upon the other. (3) Correct Leverage
produces Body Flight.
(also see: BODY FLIGHT, COMPRESSION, RESISTANCE,
(1) In Partner Dancing the term refers to fully
supporting a partner, usually placing the partner in the
air at shoulder height or above. (2) For an
Individual Dancer, it refers to the "Lifting" of the
CPB to obtain correct posture and Body Flight.
A Correct CPB LIFT gives the body "frame”
but leaves the shoulders free, rather than rigid.
The CPB should be the focal point of the
lift. Lifting all the way up into the collarbone
creates an unnatural, non-flexible feeling of rigidity.
LIGHT MEASURE -
(1) The 2nd measure of an "8 Beat"
Mini-Phrase or the 2nd Measure of a "6
Beat" Mini-Phrase. (2) A Musician thinks in
terms of MEASURES, but the dancer relates to the
(also see: HEAVY MEASURE, MINI-PHRASE, MUSICIANS
(1) (revision pending)
LINDY (Lindy Hop) -
(1) Today’s "Lindy", by definition and
classification, belongs to the "family" of
East Coast Swing. Classic Lindy has "Back Rocks” for
both partners and travels in a circular pattern. (the
circle sometimes resembles more of an oval which
gives the illusion of a wide slot) (2) The Basic
Rhythm Pattern is: "DOUBLE - TRIPLE - DOUBLE -
TRIPLE", and the Count is "1 2, 3&a4, 5 6, 7&a8.”
(A) In the early 1940's two styles of Swing came
out of NEW YORK: The LINDY and the NEW YORKER.
The LINDY was an "8 beat" pattern at
Basic level and when you got good you did "6
beat" patterns. The NEW YORKER had a "6 beat" basic
pattern and when you got good you learned "8
AUTHOR'S NOTE: FRANKIE MANNING of New York
City, a top performer since the early 1930's, was
brought out of retirement to tour the country to
promote the dance and share vital Dance History with
Swing fans. He is an American Legend.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, NEW YORKER,
LINE DANCING -
(1) Country LINE DANCES swept the nation in the
1990's. They are often composed of a series of
"Sets of 8" beats of music (The easiest are 4
"sets of 8"). (2) LINE DANCES have been part
of our dancing culture for many years. From the SWING
DANCE SCENE, the SHIM SHAM goes back to the
late 1920’s and is still being danced today.
The Line Dance Community has
become a community of it’s own. Today, not all Line
Dances are choreographed to Country Music. GSDTA
has been instrumental in the annotation of these
dances, and the"8-Beat" Mini-Phrase has become
Author's Note: I have personally enjoyed
choreographing hundreds of Motion Study routines and
Line Dance Routines. Tom Mattox and I, under
contract with the record company, choreographed the
original Boot Scootin’ Boogie.
LINE of SLOT -
(1) A term created for West Coast
Swing to determine the direction of the slot. Many
teachers were using the term "Line of Dance" to
determine the direction of the slot. That blurred the
use of the term "Line of Dance." (2) At one
time, the direction of the slot was thought to be a
fixed slot - one direction, without change.
With years of competition behind us and performances as
prevalent as social dance, the slot is no longer fixed.
West Coast Swing uses a shared. controlled, and
ever-changing slot. Socially, it is still
considered good etiquette (particularly on a crowded
floor) to use a fixed slot, in order to give
people room on the floor without incident.
LINE of DANCE (LOD) -
(1) LOD means traveling (dancing)
counter-clockwise around the room. ( skating, horse
races, car races, etc. all travel LOD) Smooth dances
progress LOD. Rhythm dances are usually danced in a
smaller area of the floor.
LINK - One extra Rhythm Unit (2 beats of
music) that has been inserted between one
pattern and the next pattern to form an
amalgamation that phrases to the music or just to
provide better continuity from one pattern to
LOCK - A Dance Position where the lady is
directly in front of the man and her arms are
"locked" firmly around her mid-section. Her Right
Hand is on her Left Side and her Left hand is on
her Right Side. The man holds her Right Hand in his
Left Hand and her Left Hand in his Right Hand.
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, LOCK WHIP)
(1) A Dance Pattern, recognized by the stylized
Forward or Backward, traveling move in Foxtrot,
Tango, Waltz, Quickstep, etc. where one foot "Hooks"
behind the other to form a "Lock" (Forward, Hook,
Forward). Traveling backward, it is a series of
"Back, Cross, Back.” (2) A Step Pattern where the
forward traveling partner is repeating a series of
forward "Hooks" and the backward traveling
partner is doing multiple "Crosses.” see CROSS,
LOCK WHIP (Basket Whip) -
(1) A Lock Whip is an "8 beat" pattern in West
Coast Swing. The "Follower" has both arms crossed
and "locked" in front, and the "Leader" is holding on to
both hands from behind.
LOD - see LINE of DANCE
(1) A Forward or Side change of direction
where the forward knee lowers the body slightly and the
CPB travels all the way to the receiving foot before
returning "Home.” The travel of the CPB is farther
than a "Rock.” (2) A lunge does not move backward
because it would become a Dip.
(also see: CHANGE of DIRECTION, CPB, DIP, HOME,
RECEIVING FOOT, ROCK)
MAJOR PHRASE - see PHRASING
(1) A fast Latin Dance, popular in the
late 1940s and early ‘50s. Mambo was the forerunner of
"Cha-Cha". (2) An "8 Beat" Pattern that "Breaks
on count "2" and count "6" of the 8 beat pattern.
Mambo Music has a definite Heavy Measure followed by a
Light Measure which together make up the "8-Beat”
Mini-Phrase. (3) The "Rhythm Pattern" for
Mambo alternates "Delayed Single - Double - Delayed
Single - Double.” The "Verbal" Pattern" is: "Lift
Step - Step-Step - Lift Step - Step-Step.” (4)
The "Count" for MAMBO is "1-2, 3-4, 5-6,
(also see: CHA-CHA, DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART,
(1) A Latin Dance, blending the musical
interpretation of Mambo and the feeling and
tempo of Bolero. The Rhythm Pattern is the
same as Mambo: :"Delayed Single - Double - Delayed
Single - Double.” Surfacing in the late 1970s, its
popularity continues to grow. (2) Mambolero, American
Open Rumba and International Rumba all have
characteristics that overlap. They all "Break" on
count "2" and count "6" of the music. They all
accent, or "pulse" the Downbeat, and are danced to
medium Slow Rumba and Bolero Music.
Advanced training and interest in advanced
technique has spawned a generation of dancers who
want to be creative and also technically correct.
While Bolero was a beautiful and exciting dance,
it has literally been replaced by the dances listed
here. Many of the patterns are the same, but they all
conform to the Latin feeling of the Break on "2" and
Historical Note: LARRY KERN, Feather Award
recipient as the most popular male teacher in the
USA in 19___, did much to spread the beauty and joy of
Mambolero through Videos and in choreographing so many
national winning routines.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
MARCHING - Stepping on every beat of the
music with precise placement of the feet.
Marching can be done at a basic level with no accent ,
or we can bring it up a level by accenting either the
Downbeat or the Upbeat, according to the music being
played, or the dance being portrayed.
(also see: ACCENT, DOWNBEAT, UPBEAT)
MEASURE of MUSIC -
(1) With the exception of Waltz, most SOCIAL DANCES
are danced to 4/4-time music. 4/4-time music
is written with four quarter notes to a measure.
The Dancer breaks those four beats into "2-Beat"
increments which identify the individual Dance Rhythms.
(2) One Measure of 4/4-time music contains four
"Quarter notes" or two "Dance Rhythms" ( 2 Units)
each containing One Downbeat and One Upbeat. (3)
WALTZ is written in 3/4- time. There are three
quarter notes to a measure, and each Dance
Rhythm is composed of three Beats of music. (One
Downbeat & two Upbeats).
(also see: DOWNBEATS, RHYTHMS, UPBEATS,
MEASURED MOVEMENT -
(1) "Control of the action" is what allows a dancer
to dance either fast or slow and still keep excellent
time to the music. Steady use of "Rolling Count" allows
the dancer to develop a smooth, rolling connection to
the music. (also see CENTER (CPB), ROLLING
MEASURES per MINUTE - see BEATS per MINUTE
(1) A Two-Hand Rhythm Dance that steps on every beat
of the music. "1 2, 3 4, 5 6, 7 8." (2) The
"Rhythm Pattern" is "Double - Double" and the
"CALL" for the Basic Step is: "Rock Step and
Walk-Walk". (3) Country Music makes the dance look
like Country Swing. Hustle Music makes the dance
look like Hustle. Salsa music makes it look like
a Two Hand Salsa from the 1970s.
This dance was called "Two Hand Salsa" in
the late 1970's. No longer viewed as "Salsa",
the dance itself is still taught in small towns and
large cities across the country under various
names: “4 Count Swing” - “ 4 Count Hustle” - “ 4
Count Salsa” - and sometimes, simply “Fast Dance.” GSDTA
came up with the name "Melange" because it
means "a mixture of things” in French. This is
appropriate since the same Dance takes on the "Look"
and the flavor of whatever Music is being played.
The dance is EASY, FUN, and is perfect for
cruises, weddings or any other Social Dance
DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
MERENGUE - (1) A popular Latin Dance in Arthur
Murray's in the 1950s that featured a curious up and
down motion, (straight leg - bent leg) - popularized by
the story that it was the dance of a famous pirate ship
captain with a peg-leg. (2) The Rhythm Pattern for
Merengue is "Double - Double - Double - Double."
(stepping on every beat of the music. Recent
referrals to Merengue are really talking about a Latin
dance in Salsa circles that also steps on every beat of
(also see SALSA VALIENTE')
(1) In 4/4 time a Mini-Phrase is "8 beats" of
music. (2) In 3/4-time a Mini-Phrase is six beats
of music. (3) The use of "Mini-Phrases" for
Dancers identifies a specific number of
beats of music. This is particularly helpful for any
dance counted in “8’s” : Swing, Salsa, Line Dancing,
Cha-Cha, Tango, Rumba, etc.
(also see: PHRASING)
MINOR PHRASE -
(1) A semi-complete musical thought that is part of a
Major Phrase. (2) Minor Phrases vary in length.
(also see: PHRASING)
MIRROR OPPOSITE (Mirror Image) - A dance move
where if one partner steps back on the LEFT foot,
the other partner will step back on the RIGHT foot,
just as it would look if you were facing a mirror.
The "Back Rock" footwork of a basic step in East
Coast Swing is considered mirror image.
(also see: NATURAL OPPOSITE)
MOON WALK -
(1) A move made popular by MICHAEL JACKSON
in the 1980s. This move can be seen in old
movies by tap and jazz dancers, but Michael made the
move and the NAME of the move popular in the
1980s and ‘90s. (2) The Moon Walk looks as if
someone is walking forward in slow motion,
although the dancer is actually traveling backward.
One knee is braced back, taking the body
backward, as the free foot is placed on the ball of the
foot, with a bent knee. This action alternates feet to
produce a backward gliding movement. This move has been
absorbed into the Swing Dance Community, along
with many other forms of social freestyle dancing..
(also see: KNEE BRACE)
MOVEMENT UNIT -
(1) Webster's New American Dictionary describes
Movement as "A shift in Position." (2) A
Movement UNIT is a shift of position of the CPB,
within the framework of "2 Beats" of Music. If
the CPB lowers on count "1" and rises on count "2,”
it is a "DOWN-UP" Movement Unit.
(also see: HORIZONTAL RHYTHM, VERTICAL RHYTHM)
MOVIES (Influence of) -
The Musicals of the 1940s, particularly those
starring FRED ASTAIRE and GINGER ROGERS, contributed
to the popularity of tap dancing but also to "Partner
Dancing." "Ice Castles,” featuring VERNON AND
IRENE CASTLE popularized Ballroom Dancing across the
country. Musicals also contributed to the popularity of
the Lindy, Jitterbug, and other forms of what we
now call Swing. It is interesting that Charleston
is popular in Mexico today because of the old movies of
the 1930s that are shown every day in the theaters and
parks. The HUSTLE flourished after JOHN
TRAVOLTA appeared in "Saturday Nite Fever" -
and MAMBO had a short flurry when "Dirty
Dancing" hit the screen. Country Dancing
spread like wildfire following the release of "Urban
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Very DEFINITELY people are
influenced by the movies they see. Movies do
not reflect what already is. They might reflect the
impressions of a FEW people, but MOVIES influence
thousands of people. Fred Astaire did not tap dance
because I did. I danced because I saw HIM dance. We
need more Movies about DANCE and less horror stories!
MUSCLE MEMORY -
(1) What the Muscles "remember" and can do "on
their own.” Education and practice combine to make a
dancer “OWN” a move. It is possible to understand
many techniques that we are not yet capable of
performing. Sometimes what we have learned
intellectually has not yet become part of our muscle
memory. Practicing a new technique that requires
changing a former discipline requires
"retraining" the Muscle Memory.
(also see: ASSIMILATION PERIOD)
MUSIC (Social Dance music) -
(1) Any Music in 4/4-time or 3/4-time that is
danceable. There are specific pieces of music that
fit specific dances. (2) There is also music that
encourage dancers to dance. (3) Some music is
considered fun to dance to socially but is NOT
acceptable for competition.
Many dancers can only dance to specific
tempos. It is important that dancers learn how to
stretch their abilities to include faster and slower
music. They need to be able to enjoy themselves
socially in ANY dance situation. Being happy
wherever you are is a desired "ability" in itself.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The question arises many times
where someone asks "Is this a Cha-Cha or a Rumba?"
It is important to know the differences, but it is also
important to know that many songs have a "crossover"
sound. In the real world, the music will not always
sound like it does in class, or at a competition.
YOU are the dancer. Socially, do what you feel. There
are times when you will see a CHA-CHA, a MAMBOLERO, a
SALSA, a RUMBA and a WEST COAST SWING all being
danced on the same floor to the same music. SOCIALLY,
Who Cares ? Enjoy what you do! HOWEVER, it is important
in Competition to have music that not only pleases the
dancers, but is musically sound for the competition
(also see: DEE JAY, TEMPO)
MUSICAL COUNT - see COUNT
MUSICAL INTERPRETATION -
(1) How dancers hear the music influences how they
dance. (2) Most Competitions score a
dancer on Musical Interpretation. Sometimes
dancers concentrate only on the "Breaks" in the
Music, while others concentrate on Phrasing.
There are many different ways of expressing what one
hears in the music. Each element of music and
movement that "connects" the dancer to the audience
creates a better performance.
It is important for the dancer to learn critical
timing before learning to hit the breaks and interpret
other sounds in the music.
(also see: PHRASING, PULSING)
MUSICIANS NOTE: -
(1) For the purpose of clarity, the following notes
deal only with 4/4-time music. (1) Musicians have
their own sheet music and "Rules" that
apply to playing music, writing music,
and reading music. (2) Dancers have
a different set of Rules and require different
sheet music in order for them to create more
professional performances. Their sheet music allows them
to write their dances and be able to read (or
have someone else read) what has been placed on
the sheet music. (3) Although dancers dance to
the music, they work with a different but
accurate count. The dancers count matches (but is
not identical to) the musicians count. (4)
Musicians think in "Measures" and Dancers dance to
“2-Beat” Rhythms and Mini-phrases called "Sets of 8” (8
beats of music). The dancer differentiates between the
Heavy Measure and the Light Measure, which
together form the dancers "Set of 8.” (5) The
Musicians "&" counts come after the beat.
The dancer dances to a "rolling count" that
demands movement just before the beat. Result:
The dancers count "&a1 &a2." Every move the dancer
makes must begin with the "&a" before each beat of
Consider that the dancer is another
instrument in the band. (the visual part of the
music). The dancers’ "Sheet Music" would not look
the same as that of other instruments. A violinist
seldom understands a Drum sheet. The Dancers’
Sheet Music can show every weight change in a specific
pattern, or in a whole routine. Phrased
"Skeleton" Sheets carry complete technical notes
through the use of the "Dancers’ Count" ("&a1 &a2").
Anyone interested is welcome to request materials from
GSDTA that further explain the connecting role between
the dancers’ sheet music and the musicians’ sheet music.
(also see: "a" COUNT, "AND" COUNT, DANCERS COUNT,
NATURAL OPPOSITE -
If a pattern states only the LEADER'S PART, it is
assumed that the FOLLOWER’S part is a NATURAL
OPPOSITE. If HE steps FORWARD, on his Left
foot, SHE will step BACK on her Right foot.
(also see: MIRROR OPPOSITE)
NEUTRAL HIP -
A lifted, controlled hip that uses neither
Camel nor Cuban Hip Movement. This is sometimes more
difficult that moving the hips.
(also see: HIP CONTROL)
NEW YORKER -
(1) A style of East Coast Swing popular in
the 1940s. Verbal Pattern: "Rock Step - Step Touch -
and Step three times." Some of the dancers
did all Delayed Singles, with a Verbal Call of
"Rock Step - Tap Step, Tap Step." (2) New Yorker,
Lindy and Jitterbug were the three names that were
bandied about at that time and patterns overlapped in
each dance. Everyone was considered a street
dancer because very little instruction was
available. The dancers taught each other.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: (A) This is one of the
first dances I learned as a teenager on the Steel Pier
in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1938. The New Yorker
and Lindy were the popular dances of the day.
The Dance Contests were called "Jitterbug"
Contests. Dancers had no difficulty dancing with
each other and although the styles looked a little
different they all FELT the same - and the different
styles were compatible.
(also see: EAST COAST SWING, LINDY, STREET DANCER)
NITECLUB TWO STEP -
(1) Originally called DISCO TWO STEP, this dance
has become a Standard under the name Niteclub
Two Step. (2) The Rhythm Pattern is "TRIPLE -
TRIPLE.” The Step Pattern Call is "Back &, Forward
SIDE - Back & Forward SIDE” to a count of: "&a1&a2 -
&a3&a4.” (3) The "Essence" of the dance is the
Pulsing of the Upbeat (on counts “2” and “4”), with a
subtle upward lilt of the body on EVERY single beat of
Once someone experiences the lilting lift of
stepping back on count “1” and pulsing the upbeat, it is
difficult to imagine dancing this dance any other way.
Unfortunately, there are many very slow pieces of music
that are NOT designed for this dance and so can feel
more comfortable doing something else. Niteclub Slow
Dance fits comfortably into an “8-Beat” Rhythm
that is often mistaken for Niteclub Two Step.
AUTHORS NOTE: Buddy Schwimmer of Orange
County California, was single-handedly responsible for
the subsequent popularity of this dance. He was part of
the Skippy Blair Dance Team when this dance first came
out of New York and was in on the ground floor of its
development. (3) One important personal observation
was that each pattern started with the back step on
count “1.” (4) Somewhere in the mid 1990s, because
of the slow tempo of some of the contemporary
Country Music, Niteclub Two Step entered the
country scene in a different form. The sound is
different and the dance is a totally different dance.
The patterns have a kinship to many Rumba patterns. One
Pattern consists of eight beats of music instead of
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, NITECLUB
FOXTROT, SLOW DANCE)
NOTE VALUE -
(1) The actual KIND of note that equals a given
amount of time. One Quarter Note equals one BEAT of
music in 4/4-time. (2) Dance Rhythms are made up
of “2-Beat” Rhythms that are composed of two quarter
notes. (3) Two Quarter notes = one Half note. Four
Quarter notes = one Whole note. (4) #3 is NOT
vital information for a dancer. The DANCER needs only
to know the value of a Quarter note.
(also see: TIME VALUE, TIME PLACEMENT)
"ODD" RHYTHM UNIT -
(1) An UNEVEN number of weight changes within the
framework of the “2-Beat” RHYTHM. (2) All
forms of SINGLE and TRIPLE RHYTHM are “ODD RHYTHMS.”
(3) An ODD RHYTHM begins with ONE foot free and ends
with the OTHER foot free. (4) Odd Rhythms can be
referred to as either a LEFT Rhythm or a RIGHT
(also see: "EVEN" RHYTHM UNIT)
ONE-HAND POSITION (Open Position) -
(1) Partners are joined with His Left hand
holding Her Right hand - facing each other - but with
some distance in between (as in open Swing).
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION CHART)
OPEN BREAK -
(1) An "away" move where both partners are
stepping back, away from each other, and then
returning to each other. (2) All of the Latin
Dances use Open Breaks. They are also used in Niteclub
The secret of perfecting this move is in
the "Lead" and the foot position. The man
brings his left hand into his own "center" before
leading his partner out and back. Both partners step
straight back, behind their own foot, in 4th foot
position. The action is one of the man
releasing himself away from the Point of
Connection while his partner does the same.
(also see: MIRROR IMAGE, POINT of CONNECTION)
OPEN DANCE POSITION -
(1) In SWING, Open Position refers to a "One
Hand" position, with the Lady at the end of the
slot. This position is the same for Rumba or Cha-Cha
when "Open Breaks" are indicated. Partners are connected
by one hand.
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS)
OPPOSITION (Law of) -
(1) The Law of Opposition tells us that "Every
ACTION has an equal and opposite REACTION.” (2)
A Push meets with a Push. A Pull
meets with a Pull. Pressing Down pushes the body
Up (3) This "Law of Physics" is one of the
fundamental Rules of good Dance Movement. (4) The
Law of Opposition is sometimes stated in dance
as “Matching the Resistance.”
(also see: ACTION, CPB, MOVEMENT, PRESS, REACTION)
OUTSIDE ROLL (Outside Turn) -
(1) A variation of a Whip in West Coast Swing.
On count "4" of a Whip, the man places his Left hand
upward and around as if moving a "Jump Rope.” That leads
the Lady into a Right Turn, under her own
Right hand. (2) The word "Outside" implies a
direction, and that direction is clear in the
case of the Whip. (3) Used in other situations,
some definitions describe the Outside Turn as any
time the man's Left hand leads to the Left or his
Right Hand leads to the Right. Some describe the
action of turning to the outside wall as
an "Outside Turn."
Many times something that works in one
situation is assumed to work in all situations.
BOTH of the above descriptions can confuse the issue
because the dancer can be led into a Left Turn or a
Right turn from the same position, depending on
which hand is doing the leading. GSDTA strongly
recommends using the terms "Left Turn" and
"Right Turn” which follows the rule: "Look in the
direction of a Turn."
(also see: RULES, TOOLS, TURN)
PADDLE TURN -
(1) This term refers to a form of turn that
centers the CPB directly over one foot while the
other foot executes little "pushing" movements
that keep the body turning. (2) There is a
"Lilt" of the CPB that allows the CPB
to stay over the weighted foot. There is a lilting
Movement Unit of "Down - Down.” (3) Paddle Turns
frequently start with a "Pivot" and then move into a
paddle turn. (4) The Count is 1&a2&a3&a4, etc.
with the centered, flat foot being on the beats of the
music and the “paddle” foot being on the “a” counts.
Paddle Turns are best executed when the CPB
stays solidly centered over the FLAT foot. Very
little weight should be placed on the "pressing" foot,
which stays slightly back and side of the centered, FLAT
(also see: PENCIL TURN, SPIN)
(1) A "Body Position" that is on a
diagonal, allowing one partner to step "outside" the
other partner without getting side by side. (2)
Right or Left Parallel can be demonstrated by having
partners touch the outside of one partner's RIGHT
Knee to the outside of the other partner's RIGHT Knee
while staying "Centered" to each other. This produces
a Right Parallel Position (3) Right Parallel
requires the Right shoulder of both partners to be
pulled slightly back as the right foot is placed
forward. The Left shoulder is slightly back for a Left
(1) Any one-hand move that takes the Lady past
her partner either from front to back, or from
back to front, without either partner going
under an arm or spinning or rolling.
(2) A pass is simply a pass - not a turn,
tuck or roll.
(also see: LEFT SIDE PASS, RIGHT SIDE PASS)
PASO DOBLE' -
(1) An exciting Latin dance, popular in
International Competition. (2) It is characterized
by a feeling of marching to the music and portrays the
man as the matador and the lady as the cape.
PATTERN - (BASIC PATTERN, FLOOR PATTERN, RHYTHM
PATTERN, STEP PATTERN - VERBAL PATTERN)
A. BASIC PATTERN -
(1) The Foundation "Step Patterns” in any
given dance. (2) Basic Dance Patterns include the
basic Rhythm Pattern, various directions (Step Patterns)
and the "Essence" of the dance. (3) A
Basic Dance Pattern is synonymous with "Step Pattern"
and/or "School Figure."
A little extra time spent on Basics always saves
time, energy and money.
B. FLOOR PATTERN -
(1) The Pattern as it would appear if it were
stationary. A Waltz Box is first demonstrated as a
Square Box that does not move. However, once the
dancer understands the diagram, it is pointed out that
the box is danced with
a gradual TURN and is not actually danced as a
B. RHYTHM PATTERN -
(1) A combination of two or more Rhythm Units
where no direction is stated or needed. (2)
The RHYTHM PATTERN refers to the number, kind, and order
of Rhythms within the framework of the whole
Pattern. (3) The actual "sequence" of "RHYTHMS"
that go to make up the weight changes
of any particular Dance. For Example: (4) The
"Rhythm Pattern" for SALSA is "Double - Single
- Double - Single" (8 Beats of Music - 2 Beats for
each Rhythm). (5) The Rhythm Pattern for
SWING is "Double - Triple - Triple " (6 beats
of Music). WHIP RHYTHM is "Double - Triple -
Double - Triple" ( 8 beats of Music). (5) Rhythm
Patterns can be identical for several different
dances. The difference lies in the Direction,
Foot Position, Style and Essence of the dance. The
Foundation Rhythm in any given dance, uses the most
Primary Rhythm for that dance.
Counting "1 2 - &3 4 - 5&6 " is a
valid "Rhythm Variation" for WEST COAST SWING,
but dancers develop a better "Pulse" and better
body control if they FIRST master "1 2 - 3&a4 -
5&a6" - which is the Basic. Rhythm of the dance.
Learning any advanced rhythm does not eliminate
the need for continuing to use the basic rhythm of the
C. STEP PATTERN -
(1) A combination of the Rhythm Pattern, Direction and
Foot Positions. (2) A "School Figure" - Any
identifiable "Named" Pattern is a "Step Pattern."
(3) The smallest Step Pattern in any dance,
danced to 4/4 time music is four beats of music.
(contains a starting rhythm and an ending rhythm).
D. VERBAL PATTERN - (Verbal Call)
(1) The Verbal Call is: What we "SAY"
to describe the pattern being danced:
"Walk-Walk" and "Step Three Times." - "Side together
Forward and Side together Back." (2) A variety of
verbal calls can work for calling the same pattern. We
can "call" by counting - by direction - by accent, or
whatever the teacher wants to emphasize at that moment.
PATTERN EXTENSION -
(1) Any Pattern can be extended by adding an
"Even,” "2-Beat" Rhythm at the end of the
pattern. A "6-Beat" underarm turn in Swing can be
extended to 8 beats by adding a "California
Shuffle" (Step Point & Step Point) onto the end of the
pattern. (2) Some patterns can also be extended
by inserting, within the pattern, a series of
Double Rhythm Units. A "Continuous Whip" is simply
an extension of a Whip. Counts "5-6" have just been
repeated to extend the pattern.
In this last instance, the extension actually
created a new pattern. Knowing the "Elements of
Dance", which includes extensions, gives birth to a
wide variety of new variations in EVERY dance.
(1) A very fast form of Fox Trot
that was popular in the New York area in the 1940s. The
dance was composed of mostly Double Rhythm Units
with a few Triples thrown in and was
characterized by the abrupt "checking" action of
the changes of direction. (2) King of the Peabody
in New York City in the 1950s and ‘60s was JOHNNY
LUCHESSE, then President of the Dance Educators
Association in New York City.
PENCIL TURN - Turning in place on ONE foot while
the other foot (the free foot) stays pressed close to
the weighted foot - in 1st foot position - without
really touching the floor.
(1) All music is made up of different kinds of
phrases that join together to make a complete song or
musical presentation. (2) A "Mini" Phrase (
in 4/4-time) is one "Set of 8" beats of
music. (3) A Minor Phrase can be 16
beats or any smaller amount than 32 that
completes a musical thought inside a Major Phrase. (4)
A Major Phrase is a specific number of "Sets
of 8" that have combined to form a "Chorus,"
"Bridge," “Verse,” or any other Musical grouping that is
a complete musical thought. (While most dance
music in 4/4 time phrases to sets of 8, occasionally
there is an extra four beats or two beats within the
(A) Standard Basic Phrasing (the easiest form) is 32
beats of Music
(4 "Sets of 8"). (B) Standard "Blues"
Phrasing is 6 "Sets of 8". Most songs today
have “mixed” phrasing (random sets of 8 that are other
than standard.) There is also music that has “irregular”
phrasing where there may be sets of 8 - then maybe 4, 2,
or any mixed numbers. ALL Music phrases to some
specific Musical Skeleton. Learning how to hear and
break down the phrasing in a piece of music allows the
dancer unlimited creativity. This is vital
information for a Competitor, Teacher or
(also see: MEASURE)
(1) Half a turn (180 degrees), turning in the
direction of the forward foot. (2) Verbal Call:
"Step forward - Step Back" as each step pivots for
1/2 a turn. (3) Partner Pivots require BOTH
partners to be in 4th foot position, and to
understand balance and leverage in order for them
to travel down Line of Dance. Anything less than 4th
foot position half turns is a "Pivot Turn," rather than
a complete Pivot.
The partner who steps BACK is the one who
sets the strongest resistance. Verbal: "He
leads - She leads.” It is not that she is really
leading, but that she understands the leverage as
she steps back, and that Pivots done with a
partner require a "50-50" involvement.
(also see: BREAK TURN, PIVOT TURN, SPIN)
PIVOT TURN -
(1) The same movement as a Pivot, but
does not require a full half turn. (2)
Pivots can be danced in 4th foot position or in open
3rd. When traveling forward, the dancer steps
forward LEFT turning LEFT - and steps back RIGHT
to continue rotating LEFT.
(also see: BREAK TURN, PIVOT)
(1) The FREE foot (pointing foot) touches the floor
with the toe, as in "California Shuffle.” (2)
Frequently used in Swing Syncopations, the
"POINT" is on the beat of the music and the STEP
is on the "a" count before the beat.
(also see: CALIFORNIA SHUFFLE, SYNCOPATION)
(1) Standard, traditional POLKA has always
been "Side Together Side & Side Together Side"
with a little "lift" or "hop" on the "&" counts
between the TRIPLES. GSDTA teaches Polka with the
following Call: “Hop- Step together Step - Hop- Step
together Step ( to a count of: “&a1&a2 - &a3&a4” ) The
Hops occur on the “a” counts before each Triple
Rhythm. (2) COUNTRY POLKA developed out of what
was once called "Stop and Go" Polka. Later,
Country POLKA became the common term for what many
dancers call "Shuffles." Shuffles are simply
dancing traveling Triples, alternating Left and Right
If your student is involved in Competition, be
sure to get a description of the dance and the "Rules of
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
POINT OF CONNECTION -
(1) “Post” technique. (2) The area that
stays still while both partners move to it or from it.
(3) The invisible stationary point that connects
partners with varying degrees of connection, leverage,
or compression. (4) Example: The Leader has a
small post in his hand (like a short Ballet Bar) and the
Follower is holding the same bar. The Follower is behind
the Leader and as he steps forward he brings the bar
with him for count “1.” The bar stays in place for count
“2” and count “3.” She has been led into a Right Side
Pass and so SHE moves the bar (post) with her as she
steps back on count “4.” The net result is that he has
not pulled her on count “2.” (5) Post technique
was first credited to Carolina Shag notable, Charlie
(also see: CONNECTION)
(1) A Country competition Dance, popular in the
1980s and early ‘90s.
(2) MOVEMENT UNIT is "Down-Down" and the Rhythm
Pattern is made up of Although the upper part of
the body resembles SWING moves, the Rhythm Pattern
does not qualify this dance as a form of Swing.
(3) It is a RHYTHM DANCE and the Basic
Pattern is an "8 beat" count that can be
extended to 16 beats.
(A) The easiest form is to start with one
TRIPLE, followed by 3 sets of Extended Doubles.
COUNT: "1&a2 - &a3&a4 - &a5&a6 - &a7&a8." It can
alternate feet every 8 beats or stay over one foot for
only 4 beats or as long as 16 beats. (B) A more
polished performance is accomplished if each new
foot shift starts on a Downbeat with a flat
foot. Example: "Left & Right Left, & Right Left
&Right Left - &a Right & Left Right - & Left Right &
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I remember years ago -
teaching at a Country Competition in Las Vegas when the
Pony was a brand new competition dance. The current
champions were in my Teachers Training Seminar and
demonstrated the dance for me. They stated that it was
all danced on the Left foot for the Leader and the Right
foot for the Follower. I stated that if the dance was
going to survive, it would soon be danced on equal
sides, alternating Left Patterns and Right Patterns.
They let me know that this is the way the dance was done
and they were the Champions. The dance “Scientist” in me
would not let it go. I said that there are Rules of
Movement and Rules of Music that will prevail, and if
not today - the change would come tomorrow. That
weekend, a new couple fro m the East Coast danced the
Pony alternating Left Patterns and Right Patterns and
took FIRST PLACE. RULES prevail.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, RHYTHM CHART)
POSITIONS - see FOOT POSITIONS, DANCE POSITIONS
POWER BASE -
The area in the lower groin that tightens and
forms the foundation for the connection up through the
Center Point of Balance (CPB) and into the Centering
Knob at the base of the neck.
(also see Center, Centering Knob)
POWER POINT -
(1) An indentation on the sole of your foot,
located between the big toe and the next toe - just
below the ball of the foot. Just imagine a marble placed
in that spot . You want to feel a rolling pressure start
in the center of your heel and progress forward, through
the Power Point, to propel your body forward. (2)
There is also a Power Point in your hand. That
spot is the indentation in the palm of your hand,
located between the pointer finger and the middle
finger. It is this area that creates a firm lead in
closed position dances, without the need for fingertip
leads or heel of the hand leads.
(1) Refers to the pressure exerted into
the floor, pressing the balls of the feet DOWN -
to move the body UP or propel the body "out."
(2) The "press" is done by the "sending"
foot. (3) There is also a "Press" by the
non-weighted Foot that is used to maintain balance
by pressing the floor. Example: In Tango, when
the man does a "Dip" he also presses the free
foot into the floor to maintain balance and assure
that he is not going back too far. The lady Lunges
forward, but "Presses" her back foot back and
down into the floor to stabilize the position.
(A) In teaching West Coast Swing, GSDTA teaches the
basic "press" during the first lesson. (B) “Press”
is vital to gaining control of the feet in basic
patterns, in swivels and particularly in syncopations.
(B) The 2nd form of "Press" mentioned above is
also vital to West Coast Swing. In dancing Triples, the
free foot presses the big toe into the floor on the "a”
before count "2" and the “a” before count “4”.
(also see: "a" COUNT, SENDING FOOT)
(1) A Dance POSITION where the Man faces
forward and the Lady, positioned on his Right side, is
facing backward. Her Left hand is behind her back
and connected to His Right Hand. Her Right Hand
is across in front of him, connected to His Left
Hand. (2) This position can reverse to the man's
Left side and her Right arm will be behind her back,
etc. (3) A popular Dance PATTERN that
includes several arm loops and wraps, some form of
Pretzel is found in most dances.
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION
PRIMARY RHYTHMS -
(1) Those Basic Rhythms which are the
easiest to learn and should be learned first: SINGLE
RHYTHM, DOUBLE RHYTHM, TRIPLE RHYTHM, and a BLANK.
(also see: ADVANCED RHYTHMS, SECONDARY RHYTHMS)
(1) Sometimes danced in Skaters Position,
Conversation Position, or Side by Side Position.
"Promenade" refers to two people traveling down
LOD with the Lady on the man's right side.
Promenade is a "Family" of Positions, and
that is the cause of conflict in its identification. It
is preferable to call each "promenade position" by its
individual name (Skaters, Conversation, etc.)
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS)
(1) A Rhythmic contraction in the body that feels
like you are the heart beat of the dance. (2) A
regularly recurring accent. (3) To accent
all of the Upbeats or accent all of the Downbeats in
a specific dance. (4) Swing dances PULSE the
Upbeat. Cha-Cha breaks on "2" & “6” - but PULSES the
(4) Sometimes the music might be pulsing a different
beat than the dance being done. Resist the
temptation to follow the pulse of the music. Each
dance has its own specific Pulse that significantly
raises the level of the performance of the dance!
(also see: ACCENT, MUSICAL INTERPRETATION)
PUSH - see DALLAS PUSH
PUSH BREAK (Sugar Push) -
(1) A Basic, “6-Beat” West Coast Swing Pattern
that requires "Compression" on count
"3." (2) The RHYTHM PATTERN is "DOUBLE -
TRIPLE - TRIPLE" although there are many places
where the pattern is taught with a “Tap Step” on counts
“3&a4.” Latest Current Breakdown: His Pattern :
"Back together - Forward together Forward - Anchor in
place." Her Pattern: "Forward, Forward -
Forward, in place, Back - Anchor in place."
(A) Teaching Triple Rhythm (instead of a Tap
Step) lays the foundation for "Placing the body
in the right place at the right time with the least
amount of expertise." (B) This foundation pattern is
a great example of isolating the "Key" Unit in a
Step Pattern. The Key Unit is the second Unit,
counts "3&a4". The Leader steps "Forward &
together Forward" on counts "3&a4" in order to
create compression. The Follower steps "Forward &
together Back" on counts "3&a4." In order to create
compression on count "3."
(also see: COMPRESSION, KEY UNIT, SUGAR PUSH)
(1) A Popular "call" for DOUBLE RHYTHM. (2)
Stepping two times to two beats of music, once on the
Downbeat and once more on the Upbeat.
(3) The original discovery of the "2-Beat"
rhythms goes back to the Arthur Murray days when all
patterns were counted in Quicks and Slows. (4)
Basic technique for "QUICKS" is usually stepping ball of
the foot first.
Teachers Note: Quicks only come in
pairs. There can be no such thing as one "Quick."
GSDTA does not advise the use of Quicks and Slows in
teaching, preferring to use real musical count to attain
higher levels of development, even during early
REACTION - see ACTION-REACTION,
RECEIVING FOOT - see SENDING FOOT-RECEIVING FOOT
REAL TIME -
(1) Dancing "Real Time" is what we usually dance.
We dance to the actual beat of the music. If a pattern
takes six beats of music, we count to "6." In Swing the
count would be "1-2, 3&a4, 5&a6.” A "6-Beat" pattern in
Foxtrot could be simply “1-2, 3-4, 5-6." (2) Many
dancers take pride in dancing “HALF-TIME” to very fast
music. This is a particular skill. A “6-Beat” pattern in
Half-Time takes 12 beats of music because you only count
(also see: DOUBLE TIME, HALF TIME)
(1) Returning your foot to where it just came from.
(2) Example: In dancing a “Rock Step” the call could be
(1) "To oppose - to keep from yielding to."
(Webster's New World Dictionary). (2) Any time
one object touches another object there is a degree
of "Resistance" created. It is this degree of
resistance that becomes important in the dance
(A) The natural tendency to "yield" to a
"lead" rather than to match the natural
resistance is a real problem for new dancers.
Resistance is NOT pushing or pulling. It is a
matching "reaction" to the "action" of the lead. (B)
The opposite extreme to "yielding" is being stiff
and "unyielding" which creates even more of a problem.
Matching the connection, from one person's
"center" to the other person’s center is ideal.
Authors Note: Around 1970 GSDTA started using
the term “Leverage” to correct the loss of completion
that dancers experienced when doing lunges. The process
worked, and the word stayed.
(also see: COMPRESSION, LEVERAGE, TENSION, TRACTION)
(1) A regular recurrence in the music of grouped
strong and weak beats (Down-Beats and Up-Beats). (2)
A specific Dance Rhythm such as
Single, Double, or Triple Rhythm. (3) "Rhythm" is
sometimes used to describe a "Steady" Rhythm, an
"irregular" Rhythm, or could even refer to a specific
Dance Rhythm, such as: Waltz Rhythm, Cha-Cha Rhythm,
etc. Rhythm is often used in the sense of "I've got
Rhythm," referring to a rhythmic way of moving to
In teaching DANCE, it is important to use the word
"Rhythm" in tandem with another word:
(Dance Rhythm - Rhythm Unit - Single Rhythm -
Study all of the various ways we refer to Rhythms,
and keep that word separated as a referral to the
"2-Beat" Dance Rhythms. It has been shown that
clarification on "Rhythms" - as opposed to the single
word "Rhythm" makes a big difference in the learning and
understanding of the dance.
(also see: EVEN RHYTHM, ODD RHYTHM, RHYTHM UNITS)
RHYTHM BREAKS -
(1) A "4-Beat" separate pattern that
"Breaks" from the standard Rhythm of a
particular dance, either to complete a phrase,
add variety to a routine, or because something in the
music dictated a particular feeling. (2)
SINGLE RHYTHM BREAKS - variations of "Slow - Slow",
"Step Kick & Step Kick," etc. Count: through 4 beats of
music. (3) DOUBLE RHYTHM BREAKS - various Pivots,
Grapevines, Diamonds, Rocking Step, etc. Count: through
4 beats of music. (4) TRIPLE RHYTHM BREAKS - Hook
Triples, Shuffles, etc. Count: through 4 beats of music.
Some form of "RHYTHM BREAK" is present in
every Social Dance at every level. It is
important to realize that Single, Double and Triple
Rhythm Breaks are actually a "Family" of Rhythms.
Any Syncopation that is repeated in sets of 4
beats of music is classified as a RHYTHM BREAK.
Example: California Shuffle: "Step Point & Step
Point" is counted "&a1 &a2." Doing TWO California
Shuffles creates a 4-Beat Rhythm Break: "&a1 &a2 - &a3
RHYTHM DANCES -
(1) Those Dances which are confined to a
specific area rather than progressing Line of
Dance around the room,. (2) At a
social level, Swing, Salsa, Cha-Cha, and Rumba are the
most popular "Rhythm Dances". (3)
Contemporary Free Style and most styles of Nightclub
dancing are also classified as Rhythm Dances
because they do not travel around Line of Dance. (4)
Most Rhythm Dances have a Movement Unit that
creates a rhythmic lilt or bounce. However, that is
not the criteria for the classification. Swing can
be danced with a bounce, or be perfectly smooth, but it
still remains a "Rhythm Dance".
(also see: SMOOTH DANCES)
RHYTHM EXCHANGE - see EXCHANGE
RHYTHM PATTERN - see PATTERN
RHYTHM UNITS (1) The number of weight changes
that take place in a "2-Beat" increment of music.
(2) Rhythm Units (Dance Rhythms) form the
foundation of the Universal Unit System®.
Dance Rhythms are the foundation for every dance.
(also see: PRIMARY, SECONDARY and ADVANCED RHYTHMS)
RHYTHM VARIATION -
(1) Exchanging one "Odd" Rhythm for
another "Odd" Rhythm, or exchanging one "EVEN"
Rhythm for another "Even" Rhythm is the easiest
form of Rhythm variation. (2) Substituting
any one COMPATIBLE RHYTHM in a particular Step
Pattern. The LOOK and the TIMING is altered, but
the Step Pattern remains generally the same. Most of
the time what appears to be a new dance step is
merely a Rhythm or Style Variation of something
you already know. Being able to identify the
individual Rhythms allows us to incorporate what we
"see" into what we "do." It also alerts us to the
problems in our own dancing, as well as how to fix the
EXCHANGE, STYLE VARIATION)
RHYTHMIC COUNT -
"&a1 &a2 &a3 &a4 &a5 &a6 &a7 &a8"
(also see: COUNT)
RIGHT UNIT - see ODD RHYTHM and UNIT
RIGHT SIDE PASS -
(1) A Basic Pattern in West Coast Swing that
takes the Lady from a back anchor position (behind the
man) to a front anchor position, facing him. She passes
on his RIGHT Side. (2) A Right Side Pass
travels from behind the man to in front of
him, with a “Handshake” connection.
(also see: LEFT SIDE PASS)
RIGHT TRIPLE - see TRIPLE RHYTHM
RIM WHIP (Wayne's Whip) (1) An 8-Beat Whip that
became an overnight "must do" move in West Coast
Swing in the 1990’s.. WAYNE BOTT developed
this particular move for competition, and describes it
as FOLLOWS: The Follower executes a standard
Whip Pattern of "Double - Triple - Double
- Triple". The Leader leads the Follower into a
5th Foot Position on Count "6." On count
"6" she is released to continue her travel on the
"Rim of a Circle" on "7&8." The Leader's
"Matador" Style begins on "5" with the upper body
twisting toward the Follower through count "7"
with the lower body catching up on "8."
Authors Note: WAYNE & SHARLOT BOTT,
Huntington Beach, California, are two accomplished
dancers who put their hearts and their talents
together and created a style that has made an impact on
the Swing dance circuit. That elongated style has been
emulated from coast to coast. As GSDTA
representatives, they have been responsible for
teaching many "Elements" classes and Judging sessions
that are qualified through GSDTA and NDDCB.
(1) A Body Movement that starts in the
feet and rolls the body upward to the head.
(2) Ripples first became popular in the
Mambo era and then grew more popular with the subsequent
rise of CHA-CHA in the middle 1950s.
An exercise for learning Ripples: Stand
facing a wall, in Open 3rd foot position, with the
weight on your Right foot. Step onto the Left
foot with the big toe of your Left foot touching the
wall. Next, press your left knee to the wall,
then your left hip to the wall, and Center Point
of Balance (CPB) to the wall. The last move is to press
your uplifted chin to the wall. Practicing
this drill will produce a ripple.
(also see: WAVE)
RISE and FALL -
(1) The elevation and lowering of the body
that takes place to achieve the Characteristic of a
given Dance. Rise and Fall is most closely identified
with the WALTZ. (2) The Rise and Fall in
Waltz varies with the TEMPO of the music..
The largest Rise and Fall happens in the slower tempos
and lessens, in degrees, as the tempo increases.
(also see: WALTZ)
ROCK STEP -
(1) A DANCE Term that requires two equal weight
changes. (2) a change of direction where the
"receiving foot " lands ball of the foot
first, stopping the "Center Point of Balance"
(CPB) and returning it to it’s origin. A Rock
allows the CPB to travel a little farther than a
Break, but less travel than a Lunge, before
the CPB returns to it's starting point.
(3) There is some form or variation of a Rock
Step in all styles of Swing.
The degree of the action of the CPB
determines whether the move is a Rock, a Break, or a
Check. The footwork (heel or toe placement) is
merely a refinement and style preference.
(also see: BREAK, CHANGE of DIRECTION)
ROCK & ROLL (1) As is the case with so many
dances, Rock & Roll was first the MUSIC. A
Jitterbug style of dance, grown out of the 40's, became
known as Rock & Roll, the DANCE. This is a very popular
style of Swing in Europe..
RODEO TWO STEP -
(1) A "Street Name" for Double Time Two Step. (2)
The identifiable characteristic of this dance is the
syncopated fast footwork. Regular Country Two Step
is danced to a Rhythm Pattern of “Double - Single -
Single.” Country dancers usually call it as:
"Quick-Quick, Slow, Slow." That is six beats of
music. In that same time frame (6 beats of
music) Rodeo Two Step doubles the number of weight
Dancing twice as fast as the music changes the
Rhythm of the dance. The Double-Time Rhythm steps on
"1&2 - 3 4 - &5 6". (That's 8 weight changes
to 6 beats of music).
(also see: COUNTRY TWO STEP, DANCE IDENTIFICATION
CHART, DOUBLE TIME)
ROLL - see INSIDE ROLL, OUTSIDE ROLL
ROLL the COUNT -
(1) Musicians term for "Rolling the Count" - a synonym
for "Swingin' it" or what musicians call the "Dancers
Count." (2) Placing the individual counts in sets of 3
instead of 4, by counting: 1&a, 2&a, 3&a, 4&a, etc.
instead of the standard: 1e&a. 2e&a, 3e&a, 4e&a.
(also see COUNT,
ROLLING and STRAIGHT)
ROLLING COUNT - see COUNT
ROPE - Popular in the 1970s, the Rope referred to the
action of two-hand, multiple arm wraps, using Rope
styling. The Rhythm Pattern is simply “Double -
Double” and is a series of “Rock Steps” and “Walk
Walks.” In the 1970s the dance was called Le Roc in
France, and Contemporary Jive in the UK. GSDTA
christened this particular dance form as
“Melange” in the late 1970s.
(also see: RODEO SWING, SALSA, MELANGE)
ROUND DANCING -
(1) A form of Social "Group" Dance that
dances Routines to specific pieces of music.
These routines are standard Ballroom and Rhythm dances,
such as Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango, Swing, and Cha-Cha.
(2) Attire for Round Dancing is usually similar to
Square dancing. Frequently, Square and Round
dancing are planned for the same event.
(1) A series of Step Patterns and
Amalgamations that have been joined together to fit
a particular piece of music. (2) Several Step
Patterns, joined together, form an AMALGAMATION.
Several Amalgamations joined together with LINKS
and RHYTHM BREAKS form a complete ROUTINE.
(3) A good routine will almost always include an
Opening, several Amalgamations, one or two
Highlights, a Climax, and an Exit.
(4) There are different kinds of Routines.
"Teaching Routines" are for making classes
interesting and material easy to learn. "Group
Routines" are for training Teams. "Performance
Routines" are for Competition or Show and can be
Solo, Couples, or Teams.
Routines should always be geared to the
expertise level of the dancer. For Classes, Routines
should include appropriate level material - along with
enough technical areas that will improve the students'
(also see: AMALGAMATION, PHRASING)
RUBBER BAND EFFECT -
(1) A "Feeling" that takes place on the "away"
resistance when two Swing dance partners have a proper "connection."
(2) A technique for explaining the similarity
as well as the difference between East Coast and
West Coast Swing. The "Rubber Band effect takes
place on the "Rock" of the "Rock Step" in East
Coast Swing. The effect is experienced on an "&a"
count, just prior to count "1" of a new pattern in
West Coast Swing,.
(also see: LEVERAGE, RESISTANCE)
(1) In Dance, a list of how certain
actions produce predictable reactions. Collectively,
Rules are usually discoveries of what already
exists. (2) The fact that these rules
already exist does not necessarily mean that
the information is readily available. These rules
have to be sought after, observed, uncovered, and
dissected until their secrets unfold, allowing us to
consistently reproduce each discovery and put
that knowledge into a teachable format. This
process allows others to share the benefits.
(3) In the field of dance, the pursuit of
excellence necessitates research into the
established Rules of Movement and Rules of
Music that already exist.. (4) Rules that are
decisions rather than discoveries yield in
time when true discoveries are made. Example: A
ball bounces, not because someone made a decision
that it should bounce, but because when we drop a ball
we can observe that it bounced. Further discovery
leads us to the rule that the harder we throw the
ball at the floor, the higher it will bounce.
Teachers Note: Golden State Dance Teachers
Association has pioneered research and development that
has resulted in Discoveries that supply information to
thousands of teachers all over the world. Ongoing
"INTENSIVES" serve as incubators for creative
minds. Studying Rules of Movement and
Rules of Music & Timing prepares teachers to
reach new heights in the teaching and understanding
of their art. Nothing is quite as exciting as finding
new "Pieces of Gold" lodged in the most unlikely
(also see: DISCOVERY, TOOLS)
RULES OF MOVEMENT - A "GSDTA" Teaching Module
that isolates the "Elements" that have to do with
how each movement of the body either
contributes to or detracts from our dancing
RULES OF MUSIC & TIMING - A "GSDTA" Teaching Module
that isolates the various "Elements" of Music and
Timing that have to do with connecting the
Dancer to the Music.
(1) AMERICAN BOX RUMBA - the most used Social
form of Rumba. The "8-Beat" Rhythm Pattern is
"DOUBLE - SINGLE - DOUBLE - SINGLE." For those still
using Quicks and Slows, the "CALL" is
"Quick-Quick, Slow - Quick-Quick, Slow." The Hip
Action is a "Cuban Hip" (Opposite Hip styling).
(2) AMERICAN OPEN RUMBA belongs to the Mambo and
Cha Cha Family. It Breaks on counts "2" and "6" of
the "8-Beat" Pattern. This dance is sometimes called
Mambolero. Open Rumba and Mambolero both
use "Cuban Hip" styling.
(3) INTERNATIONAL RUMBA also belongs to the Cha
Cha Family. It Breaks on "2" and "6" and has a
similarity in many Patterns to Mambolero. The
difference is in the Hip Styling. International
Hip styling is a cross between "Cuban Hip" and "Camel
Hip" characterized by a "locked" hip on each back
(see also DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
(1) Stepping quickly on the balls of the feet,
one step after the other, with the free foot
actually leaving the floor. (2) A "Run", is
danced in DOUBLE RHYTHM, stepping toe first on
every beat of the music ( usually in 4th foot position).
(also see: WALK, TROT)
SAILOR SHUFFLE -
(1) "Step Kick and Step Cross" - "Step Kick and Step
Cross" First: Step Side Left on the
Left Foot on "&." Kick diagonally Right
with the Right Foot on count "1." Retract Right
foot on "&," and step Right foot close to Left foot
on "a." Now Cross Left foot over Right foot
on count "2." Repeat sequence: starting with
the other foot: "Side Right" on the Right foot for
counts "&a 3 &a 4." (2) A “Hook Triple” is often
mistakenly called a "Sailor Shuffle" because of
the similarity of the "Look" when a hook triple
lists to starboard like a drunken sailor. The "Kick"
in the "Sailor Shuffle" is actually an "Air Shuffle."
There is no Shuffle in a Hook Triple - and
there is no Hook in a Sailor Shuffle.
(also see: HOOK TRIPLE)
(1) "Salsa" means "SAUCE" and initially it
referred only to a type of MUSIC (Disco Music with a
LATIN BEAT). (2) By 1978 SALSA had evolved
from being just MUSIC and had become several different
forms of Salsa dances. GSDTA defined those "forms" in
the 1978 edition of Disco to Tango & Back
by using the names: "Salsa Picado," "Salsa Valiente,"
and "Salsa Suave." (3) In the year 2005, what we
described as Salsa Picado is being called Cumbia.
What we described as Salsa Valiente is being called
Merengue. What GSDTA called Salsa Suave in the
1970s, is now called simply SALSA. It has a Rhythm
Pattern of “Double - Single - Double - Single.”
Salsa Breaks forward on the Leader’s left foot on count
“1” and back on the right foot on the Leaders count “5.”
SALSA pulses the Downbeat and has a Call of:
“Forward, Back - Back & Hold,” followed by “Back,
Forward - Forward & Hold.”
Observing Similarities, it is very easy to
mistake Salsa for Mambo. However, focusing on the
Differences, it is easy to distinguish one dance
from the other.
Authors Note: Salsa went through a
“counting” crisis when it first became popular. Like
many other dances in their early days, the dancers
counted weight changes, rather than beats of music.
The early count for Salsa was “123 - & 456.” GSDTA spent
much time and effort in Teachers Training, concentrating
on MUSICAL count. The second stage found teachers
counting “123 & 567.” Little by little, the dance
teachers started matching the full musical count. The
degree of timing developed rapidly as the counting
became more solid. The top level Salsa teachers today
are counting “1 2 - 3 hold 4 - 5 6 - 7 hold 8.” This
eliminates rushed timing, hastens learning, and allows
creativity to develop at a faster rate.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, MAMBO,
(1) A Traditional Latin Dance, composed of
4-Beat Patterns, which are usually danced through
"Mini-Phrases" of 8 beats of Music. (2) The
Rhythm Pattern is made up of two ROLLING TRIPLES.
Count: "&a1 &a2 &a3 &a4".
For beginning SAMBA it is a good idea to
practice the "Movement Unit" using Single Rhythm.
The "Movement Unit" of Samba is DOWN on Count "1"
and DOWN again on Count "2," creating a rhythmic Lilt
that is more felt than seen. (3) The
characteristic “Lilt” has been removed from
International Samba. The "lilt" remains in Cuban
and American Samba. The excitement of Samba focuses
on relating the feeling of the music to the dance.
(also see: BOUNCE, COUNT, DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART,
MOVEMENT UNIT, PULSE, SYNCOPATION)
SAME-FOOT HUSTLE -
(1) Designed by GSDTA, this popular
dance of the 1970s was a two hand dance where both
partners started with the Left Foot. The Rhythm Pattern
was: “Double - Single - Triple” (2) The call was
“Swivel, Swivel - Step and STAMP - Back Together
Forward” . The Dance stayed popular for about eight
years, and some of the older folks still do the “Same
Foot Hustle” today.
Historical Note: The Same Foot Hustle
came about as a Fluke - and wound up being the most
popular form of Hustle that many Southern California
dancers would know in the 1970s. Born in the Golden
West Ballroom in Norwalk CA, the “Call” was “Step twice
- Step Stamp - & Back together Forward.” That call
was already being used for a form of Hustle that used a
standard concept: Leader started dancing with his Left
foot and Follower started with the Right foot.
Frequently both partners stepped on each other.
For one of our shows at the Golden West Ballroom - I
choreographed a routine where both partners started
with the LEFT foot. It looked great and it felt
great. It was easy to do and easy to teach. Sometimes
the call was simply “Step-Step - Step Stamp - and Step 3
Times” - That “Same Foot Hustle” became the standard
Hustle for the Golden West Ballroom and is still
remembered and danced today, by those from that era.
(1) A style of Lindy. (2) A Swing-related
"Side by Side" move that incorporates Kicks,
Hops, and Drops.
1-2 = Kick Forward Left on "1" and Step
"Together" (Left Foot) on "2"
3-4 = Kick Forward Right on "3" and
Pull Right foot to left knee on "4" 5-6 =
Tap Right toe way back on "5" Hook
Right, Kick Left foot on "6"
7-8 = Lift Left foot to Right Knee on "7" Tap
Left toe way back on "8"
This is one of several versions. The "CALL" for this one
" Kick &Together - Kick & Pull - Tap Back & Hook -
Lift & Tap Back"
Each "Tap" is way back and down
(deep drop on the weighted leg). This entire Pattern has
a "Movement Unit" of Down-Down, with a Rhythmic
Bounce or Scoot. The CPB goes "Down" on every beat of
music." Practicing the Movement Unit first
is a standard GSDTA rule. The Savoy is a classic example
that proves this point. Without the “lilt”, this
pattern will not work.
SCHOOL FIGURE -
(1) The accepted pattern for a particular
Organization or School.
In all disciplines, the "school figure"
should be as close to an "Absolute" Pattern as possible.
(also see: ABSOLUTE PATTERN)
(1) A Country Western Dance, composed mainly of
Vines and Scoots. (2) Socially, the
most popular among several Schottisches is the "Sweetheart
Schottische," a 26 count, same foot partner dance
that moves LOD and is done to medium-slow music.
Socially, the original phrasing is a fun,
easy way to teach and to dance.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My personal
introduction to the Schottische was in the German
Dutch Community in New Jersey in the 1930s. Their
Schottische was phrased to 4 "Sets of 8" by
dancing 3 Vines and 2 scoots, followed by 3 Vines and 2
Scoots that started to the other side.
(1) A "Mirror Opposite" of a Grapevine.
Whereas a Grapevine is a "Natural Opposite," a
"Scissor" has both partners crossing in front at
the same time and both partners crossing behind
at the same time.
(also see: GRAPEVINE)
(1) A forward move on the weighted foot
(or feet), propelled by the action of either the
free foot kicking forward (as in
Schottische), by a knee lift (as in Boot Scootin'
Boogie), or by a body action (as in popping both
knees forward to do a "2-footed" Scoot). (2) A
"Scoot" is a lesser degree of upward movement
than a Hop, but is part of the same “action”
SCOOT BACKS -
(1) A "Kick & Back Together," usually repeated in
a series traveling backward. The Count is "&a1 &a2" with
the Kick on count "1" - lift on “&” and the "Back
Together" on "a2". Clap your hands on count "2" (the
Upbeat) and you are dancing part of the SHIM SHAM.
(also see: SHIM SHAM)
(1) A forward swing of the lower leg allowing the
heel to hit the floor. The scuff is usually performed on
a beat of music rather than on an “&” or an “a” count.
SECONDARY RHYTHMS - (1) The set of "Dance
Rhythms" (Units) that GSDTA suggests be taught, once
the Primary Rhythms have been learned:
(2) Secondary Rhythms include: A. “Delayed Single" (could
be a "Tap Step.") B. "Delayed Double"
(could be a "Kick & Step-Step")
C. "Extended Double" is "Step -Step &
Step-Step." D. “Basic Hop" can be either a
"Step Hop" or a "Hop Step."
(also see: PRIMARY & ADVANCED RHYTHMS)
SEEDS - (GSDTA terminology)
(1) Teaching fundamental basics in dance is "Planting
Good Seeds." (2) It is important to teach
material in the proper order. The teachers who
first introduce students to dance are planting
seeds that determine the future of that
particular dancer. (3) Teaching Grade 5 material
to a Grade 1 class, or fancy material that requires
upper-level technique, are two examples of planting
seeds that will eventually grow weeds.
(also see: WEEDS)
SENDING FOOT - RECEIVING FOOT
(A) - SENDING FOOT: (1) (1) The foot that
presses into the floor to project the body (the CPB)
in the direction that the dancer wants to go. Use of the
3-Toe Base is crucial in developing a good Sending Foot.
(B) - RECEIVING FOOT: 1) The foot that
receives the weight from the "sending foot". (2)
How the receiving foot "collects" the body
weight depends upon the dance being done, the
direction of the move, and the rhythm being danced.
Examples: Triple RHYTHM usually receives the body
weight on the ball of the foot first. In
Rumba, Cha-Cha, Mambo and Salsa, all steps
are received ball of the foot first. Single
Rhythm in the Smooth Dances generally steps heel
first. (3) When correctly mastered,
control of the sending foot results in the transfer
of weight (the CPB) happening on the precise beat of
The connection between the sending foot, the CPB
and the receiving foot needs to start on Lesson one.
"Walk Like a Dancer" is an excellent article on
(also see: CPB, PRESS, THREE-TOE BASE)
A Dance Position where the man is behind the
Lady, holding the hand of her rounded Left arm - at
shoulder height - in his own Left hand. He is holding
the hand of her rounded Right arm, at shoulder height,
in his own Right hand. Man can be directly behind or
slightly off center.
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION CHART)
SHEET MUSIC for DANCERS -
(1) The actual lined sheets, complete
with G-Clef that allows the dancer to annotate any dance
being done. (2) The title of a complete course
in Annotation through GSDTA. (Sheets are available
(1) A "6 count" pattern dance, popular on the
East Coast, during the late 1930s and early 40s. It has
a call of "Rock Step, Tap Step, Tap Step." (2)
All forms of Shag have a lilting Movement Unit of
"Down - Down."
Historical Note: Fast Music, and crowded
dance floors, made SHAG on the East Coast and
BALBOA on the West Coast popular at the same
(also see: BALBOA, KENNY SHAG, CAROLINA SHAG)
SHAG, CAROLINA - see CAROLINA SHAG
SHARLOT STRUT -
(1) A style of strut that swivels before
each step. (2) Usually danced in Shadow position,
man slightly off center behind the lady. The Lady is on
his right side with the back of her right hand pressed
into the small of her own back. Swivels are on
each "&" count, before the beat. The steps
are on the beats of the music. (3) SHARLOT
JANSEN BOTT, Huntington Beach California, winner of
many National Competitions - including the prestigious
U.S.OPEN - made this move popular from coast to coast in
(also see: STRUT)
A rapid "shaking" of the shoulders, popular during the
Roarin' 1920s, that is accomplished by pulling the
left shoulder BACK on every beat of the Music.
This action allows the right shoulder to recover into a
back move on each "&" count before every beat.
SHIM SHAM (Shim Sham Shimmy) -
(1) A "Line Dance" from the 1930s and early 40s.
New York Swing Dancers still do this dance every
week at their Club events. The "craze" migrated to
California and has become the "thing to learn"
if you're a Swing Dancer. The original version came
from Tap Dancers, as did many of the "Rhythm Breaks" and
"side by side" variations that are used today in Swing
Dancing. The 1994 version includes "Stop time" - with
the end of the routine featuring "Scoot Backs," "Camel
Walks," and the "Shorty George." (2) FRANKIE MANNING
is credited with the original version. Frankie, at
age 91 (in 2005), was still teaching the Shim
Sham and the Lindy. (3) Once considered a most
difficult dance to learn, the Shim Sham is now
available on DVD, using the Universal Unit
System®. This method allows the Shim Sham to be
taught in one or two hours, rather than weeks.
Author's Note: (1) My first introduction to
the Shim Sham was in 1935, on the famous STEEL
PIER in ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey. Three black tap
dancers did a phenomenal job of song and dance that
included a slow "Soft Shoe" called the SHIM SHAM.
As a tap dancer I picked up quite a bit of the routine.
(2) Many years later, it would be my privilege
to perform the Shim Sham with Frankie Manning at Boogie
in the Mountains, in New York.
SHINE POSITION -
(1) An "Open" position with partners
facing each other, having no hand contact. (2)
The name comes from the fact that in Cha-Cha, a popular
move in the 1960s was to "Do your own thing" in
open position. It was your time to "Shine." Today you
can “shine” in several dances, particularly Salsa and
SHORTY (Shorty George) -
(1) A series of "Walking" Steps using a
"Camel" Hip & bent knees (late 1930s & early ‘40s).
(2) Named for Shorty George Snowden of New York.
(3) Part of the 1990s version of the "Shim
(also see: CAMEL HIP, CUBAN HIP)
(1) That extra degree of performance that
sets the dancer apart from the crowd. (2) In
competition, Showmanship is described as "How
well you sell what you do." Contestants are
cautioned to keep the performance in good taste. Recent
decisions allow judges to deduct points for vulgar moves
or for costumes in poor taste.
Triples traveling Line of Dance
A direction that moves the CPB directly
left or right in 2nd foot position
(also see: FOOT POSITIONS, FORWARD, BACK)
SIDE by SIDE -
(1) A Dance Position where both partners
are facing the same direction, with either no
hand contact or connected by one hand. (2) A
Classification in Swing, Country and Cha-Cha
Competitions to showcase the dancers as they both
face the audience. Most of the time both partners
use the same foot at the same time. Points are
usually given for how well the partners are
synchronized. Kicks should be at the same height. Hands
should give duplicate gestures.
SIDE CROSS BEHIND -
(1) A verbal "Call" for direction, like in a
Grapevine. (2) It is NOT a foot position and not an
actual CROSS (which IS a foot position).
SIDE CROSS IN FRONT -
(1) A verbal "Call" for direction, like in
a Grapevine. (2) It is NOT a foot position and not an
actual CROSS (which IS a foot position).
(1) Any form of verbal or visual "cue."
Finger presses, pats on the hand, pokes in the back and
verbal commands are all considered SIGNALS but are
not classified as LEADS. (2) In a competition
where lead and follow is important, signals will
mean deducted points if detected. (3) Patterns
that are not leadable (ones that require signals) should
be reserved for people who are familiar with each
other’s signals, and should not be used socially.
SINGLE RHYTHM -
(1) ONE Step to TWO Beats of Music, stepping on
COUNT "1" and doing a hold, brush, touch, or any other
move that is not a weight change on Count “2/” (
2) A "Slow" for those who the language of
"Quicks" and "Slows".
(also see: DELAYED SINGLE, RHYTHMS)
SINGLE RHYTHM BREAK - see RHYTHM BREAK
SKATERS POSITION -
A Dance Position where
partners are both traveling forward with the Lady on the
man's right side. Their hands are crossed. His Right
hand in handshake position is connected to
her Right Hand. Both of their free hands form a Left
Handshake.. Left hands are connected on top.
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION CHART)
SKIP (SKIPPING) -
(1) The name for a repetitive "Hop Step."
Skipping includes a series of "Hop Step &
Hop Step" moves, counted "&a1 &a2."
(A) In teaching - particularly in teaching
children how to "SKIP" - it is important to
note that teaching someone to SKIP is a “3-Stage”
process. The 1st stage starts with a plain
"Step Hop" alternating a "Step Hop" on the Left
foot with a "Step Hop" on the Right foot: "Step
Hop and Step Hop." (Each Step Hop takes place on one
foot to 2 beats of music). The 2nd stage is a series
of "Hop Step & Hop Step," alternating Left and Right
Hops. ( each "Hop" takes place on one foot,
followed by a "Step" on the other foot).
Each Hop & Step still takes 2 beats of music. The
3rd stage is to teach "Hop Step & Hop Step"
to a count of "&a1 &a2." It has now become
“Skipping.” (B) A "Hop" is simply a greater
degree of a "Scoot." Skipping is a move that can be
accomplished with either "Scoots" or "Hops" with
varying degrees of "lift." (C) Skipping
develops coordination skills, which actually aids
Author's Note: GSDTA has a DVD that teaches
people how to Skip. It is priceless for teaching
children. Parents should be aware that some children
need help with their coordination in order to keep up
their academic skills. Skipping is a vital coordination
(also see: COORDINATION SKILLS, HOP, SCOOT)
SKIPPY BLAIR STUDIOS -
(1) Home of the Birth of the Universal Unit System®
1958. (2) A "Practice Ground" for many top
Swing Dance contestants and Teachers in the late
1950s and early 60s. Dancers like "Marc & Marge"
Peters, "Jerry & Gloria” Igo, "Jack & Lorraine” Cary,
"Gayle & Eileen" Allen shared patterns and exchanged
ideas every Sunday afternoon. This was the
forerunner of starting SWING CLUBS in the
Southern California area.
Historical Note: Teachers Training in the
early 1960s spawned some top winning
dancers and professional teachers who went on to
achieve national recognition. The Universal Unit
System® was the training background that gave
these young teachers a foundation upon which to build.
Buddy Schwimmer, award-winning dancer,
choreographer, and teacher is still teaching all over
the world. Lynn Vogen, Feather Award winner for
Choreographer of the Year, has long been known
for her work with young people. She too won many awards
including the L.A. Swing Club finals with Larry Kern
as her partner. Andrea Kluge, now residing in
Santa Barbara, gained a reputation by winning Swing
competitions on the Al Jarvis TV Show. She did
this, complete with aerials, while wearing 3-inch heels!
Sheila Blair & Corky Elser, top teachers and
contestants in the 1960s, won many Latin and Swing
competitions - including the prestigious Star Ball.
Later, Sheila Blair and Larry Kern
headlined in Las Vegas. Today, Larry is still
dancing professionally in the world-famous Palm Springs
Follies. In the 1960s Pat Armstrong (Skippy’s
daughter) and Mike Mikita won the New York
World's Fair Teen Competition in all three dances:
Waltz, Swing and Cha-Cha. At the age of 17, Pat had
become the youngest certified teacher in GSDTA. She
logged more than 300 hours of teachers training and
taught International and Latin classes for Master
International Teacher Jim Cane in Santa
Authors Note: Pending
SLASH ( / ) -
(1) The Annotation for one Beat of
Music with no weight change.
(2) A maximum of 2 slashes can exist in
any "2-Beat" Rhythm Unit.
(3) A maximum of 3 slashes can exist
in any "3-Beat" Rhythm Unit.
(also see: ANNOTATION)
SLICKER DANCING -
A form of smooth Fox Trot that allowed no closing
of the feet. The main object was to glide smoothly
around the room without moving the body up or down.
TIFF PAYNE stood out as the top performer,
contestant and demonstrator of Slicker Dancing in the
1940s and ‘50s.
(1) A move on one or two feet where the
dancer gains enough momentum to glide across a slick
floor In a static pose. The body continues to move
without benefit of weight changes. (2) Today
(2005) there are many slides in West Coast Swing.
(also see: GLIDE)
SLIP PIVOT -
(1) A type of Pivot. (2) Standing on the LEFT foot,
allow the RIGHT foot to slip back past the
Left foot where it will start the rotation for a back
"pivot turn" to the LEFT. The Right Foot passes
close enough to touch the Left foot, making it
seem as though the moving foot actually turned the
weighted foot as it passed by.
The Left shoulder pulls back to initiate the
rotation at the same time as the Right foot hits the
floor on count “1.”.
(also see: HEEL PIVOT, PIVOT)
(1)) The term used when teaching or dancing
different forms of Swing. Basically, Lindy
and East Coast Swing travel in oval shapes and
circles. West Coast Swing basics start in a
slotted area, sometimes described as the man being in
the center and the lady traveling from one end of the
slot to the other. Slotted dances do not move around
Line of Dance but are confined to smaller areas.
(2) Other dances are sometimes taught in a
slot at basic level, simply to make the dances
easier to learn (ie: Hustle, Cha-Cha, Salsa.)
(1) A Popular "call" for Single Rhythm.
(2) One Step to 2 beats of Music, stepping only
on the Downbeat. (3) Term no longer used in
GSDTA terminology. GSDTA uses real count for
clarification of better timing.
(also see: FOX TROT, SINGLE RHYTHM)
SLOW DANCING -
(1) The latest popular name for a Contemporary form
of FOX TROT that is danced socially to slow
music. Sometimes danced using all Single Rhythm,
the more creative dancer alternates DOUBLE RHYTHM
and SINGLE RHYTHM. (2) "Slow Dancing" is
the latest name that is being used to legitimize a dance
that has been done forever, but has seldom been
recognized as a formal social dance. In every era, in
every country, there is a dance that alternates Double
and Single Rhythm to 4/4-time music.. Slow Dance
appears under various names, but is included in GSDTA
curriculum as a vital, fundamental form of “Partner
Dancing.” (also see: FOX
SMOOTH DANCES -
Those dances which progress around the
dance-floor LOD ( Line of Dance.)
(also see: FOX TROT, TANGO, WALTZ, etc.)
SOCIAL DANCE (Couples Dancing) -
(1) Refers to those dances which can be danced
with a variety of partners and still be led and followed
in a relaxed, easy atmosphere.
SOLAR PLEXUS -
(1) The Solar Plexus is a dense cluster of nerve
cells and supporting tissue. It is the largest
autonomic nerve center in the abdominal cavity and any
blow to that area causes great pain. (Google
(2) The area located above the naval, nestled under
the soft area, just below where the ribs meet. (an area
about the size of a fist). (3) The Solar
Plexus is the location of the CPB (Center Point
of Balance) which is the core of all movement in
upper level dancers.
(also see: CENTER POINT of BALANCE CHART)
(1) One dancer dancing or performing alone.
(2) One dancer can also do a small “solo” spot in
either a group routine or a couples routine.
SOPHISTICATED SWING - see WEST COAST SWING
(1) A full rotation on one foot (360 degrees or
(1) A STEP PATTERN in several social
dances: Waltz, Country Two Step, Samba, Tango, Fox Trot,
etc. (2) The pattern that is created on the
floor as the man alternates Left and Right parallel
rhythms that adjust to the appropriate dance. Example:
In Waltz, the man does a "Left Right Left" in
Right Parallel, followed by a "Right Left Right "
in Left parallel. (3) A SPIRAL TURN is a
Foot Styling that describes the free foot placement
in a rotating Torque turn. Example:
A Spiral Turn steps forward Left, turns slowly
to the right (on the left foot) without lifting the
free foot from the floor. As you complete the turn, the
Right foot has spiraled around the Left foot and is in
front, ready to move forward.
(also see: PARALLEL)
(1) An acrobatic move where the weight of the
CPB goes down toward the floor, while the dancer has
one foot moving forward and the other foot
moving backward. (2) There are also Side
(1) The act of focusing on one spot as you pivot down
a straight Line. The body rotates at a different
speed than the head. The head stays riveted, facing one
direction while the body rotates. At the last second,
the head snaps around to face the original spot.
An exercise to learn "SPOTTING”: Stand
with both feet together facing a mirror. Keep the eyes
focused on your face in the mirror. Slowly rotate the
body to the left as far as you can. (little tiny
steps in place make the rotation easier). When the body
can no longer revolve without moving the head, STOP
the body and rotate the head all the way around to
face front. Finish the move with a fast
rotation, allowing the body to catch up with the head.
This exercise develops flexibility, control, and
facilitates learning to Spot..
SPOT TURN - A circular pattern in Rumba,
Cha-Cha and Mambo that alternates a 5th foot position
and a 2nd foot position for the man, while the lady
walks, prancing toe first, forward toward his
left shoulder. Momentum gathers as both partners
keep their CPB’s focused toward each other,
leaning slightly away from each other as they complete
the circular pattern.
(also see: "C" FRAME, CHA-CHA, RUMBA)
SQUARE DANCING - A style of “Formation” dancing
whereby the dancers - dressed in early
country attire - follow a "Caller" who guides them
through the dance formations. Designated as
California's official Folk Dance, on the same date that
West Coast Swing became the official Social Dance.
(1) An "action" that makes a noise with a
flat foot hitting the floor, without a change of
weight. (2) A "Stamp" is a "noise," a
"sound," but NOT a weight change.
(also see: STOMP)
STANDARD DANCES -
Those dances that have withstood the test of time as
a current social dance. (1) If you go to a
BALLROOM, you expect to dance the Fox Trot,
Waltz, Tango, Rumba, Samba, Swing, and Cha-Cha, among
others. (2) If you go to a COUNTRY DANCE you
should expect to dance Country Two Step, Line
Dances, Country Waltz, and Swing, among others.
STANDING BASE -
The area of the foot that gives you complete balance.
Standing with the feet apart, place the weight
between the Power Point and the front part of the heel.
It will seem as if your weight is centered into the
arch of the foot.
It is also important that the weight be
distributed over the inside (not the outside) of the
(also see THREE-TOE BASE, FOOT POSITIONS)
STARTER STEP -
(1) In Swing Dancing, the 2 TRIPLES that signify to
"Get ready - Get set" before the "GO" that starts
the pattern. VERBAL CALL: "Step 3 times and Step 3
times" to a count of "1&a2 - 3&a4" (2) The
STARTER STEP is only 4 beats of MUSIC. (3) The
pattern, or body movement, that prepares the dancer
to start dancing. In SWING, this four beats
of music allows the dancers to determine the tempo of
the music and prepare to dance. (4) The more
accomplished Swing Dancers seldom "step out"
the starter step. They merely move their torsos a little
forward on counts 1&a2 and she moves back on
3&a4, while he anchors in place. Having established
the feeling of the beat of the music, they then move
into an appropriate pattern in the dance.
HISTORICAL NOTE: It is important to note
here that the discovery of the “4-Beat” STARTER STEP
changed dramatically the way Swing is taught all over
the world. In today's dancing community, it is difficult
to find dancers who remember when WEST COAST SWING
counted the "Rock Step" or the lady's "Walk-Walk"
as counts "5, 6." (That was in the early 50s and
remained for many years after that) GSDTA
curriculum started every pattern on counts "1-2"
starting in 1958. Every WEST COAST SWING pattern
today starts with the Lady's "Walk-Walk" on counts
"1-2." All over the world today, almost all
teachers of Swing teach a Starter Step prior to the
Teaching Note: (2006)
As the world started adopting the fact that the
follower should start FORWARD, following a starter step
- Starter Steps have been changing to place
the follower into a position that allows her to travel
forward on count "1" of the first pattern.
Author's Note: It is important to note
that the long awaited "22 Foundation
Pattern - 2 disc -DVD" (2005) has now become a
standard for hundreds of teachers who teach West
Coast Swing. This DVD has replaced our West Coast Swing
Videos I, II, and III, that most teachers used for the
last 15 years. (Available online at
http://www.swingworld.com/ under "Product."
(also see: EAST COAST SWING, WEST
(1) A Weight Change from one foot to the other
foot. (2) One Solid Black DOT is the
Annotation for a Step in the
UNIVERSAL UNIT SYSTEM®
(1) The word STEP is frequently used as a
"stage" of something - or is meant to refer to a Step
PATTERN. In teaching dance, it is preferable to clarify
certain words as specific to the dance. Reserve the
word STEP for meaning one weight change.
(also see: CHANGE of DIRECTION, STEP PATTERN)
STEP PATTERN - see PATTERN
ST. LOUIS SHAG -
(1) St. Louis Shag was made popular in California
by "DJ"/ Dancer/ Choreographer KENNY WETZEL (2)
This "8 beat" pattern dance has a Rhythm Pattern of
"Triple - Blank - Single - Double.” (3) The Verbal Call
is "Step Three Times - Kick, Hop - Step, Stamp -
Rock, Step.” (4) The Movement Unit is
"Down - Down" with a rhythmic bounce on every beat.
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
(1) A loud flat-footed "Sound" - made with the
free foot. (2) a COUNTRY version of STAMPING the
A well-executed STOMP (or STAMP) is a sound.
It hits the floor with a FLAT foot, as a result
of the action of bending the knee of the weighted
(also see: CHANGE, STAMP)
STRAIGHT COUNT - see COUNT
STREET DANCER -
(1) Those dancers, usually from the 1940's era,
who learned to dance without benefit of formal
Instruction. There were no places to get instruction.
We all taught each other, and that is a form of
instruction in itself. (2) Those dancers who pride
themselves in being self-taught.
"Observing" is one of the most basic forms of
learning. Most dancers are not aware that hours and
hours of "Just Dancing" is, in itself, a form
of instruction. In REALITY there is no such thing
as a "Street Dancer" today, unless they are dancing
something that nobody else is doing. If the dance has
any kind of FORM, it is learned by instruction,
observation, or just dancing until you get it right.
STRICTLY SWING -
(1) A division of Competition where partners do
not use routines and are not aware of the music that
will be played for the competition. Costumes are not
STRIKE - (1) An advanced styling move in
CHA-CHA, SWING or TANGO. (2) A
"striking" of the foot backward, as if striking a
match. The free foot pushes down and back
and poises momentarily in the air before the next weight
(also see: CROSS & STRIKE)
STROLL - (revision pending)
(1) A "DOUBLE RHYTHM" walking step: The
knee lifts on the "&" count before each step and the
foot lands toe first on each beat of the music. Body is
erect and stretched tall. (2) Prancing, with
very definite, firmly-planted steps.
STYLE VARIATION - CHANGING the foot position
or styling of a particular Step Pattern
without altering the RHYTHM pattern.
(also see: RHYTHM CHART, RHYTHM VARIATION)
(1) Specific or characteristic manner of
expression, execution, construction or design. (2)
Specific STYLING can relate to a type of Dance:
Rumba styling, Samba styling, Swing styling, etc. OR to
an individual expression characterized by a dance
personality: an "Annie" move, a "Mary Ann" or
"Sharlot" move, etc.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Annie Hirsch, Mary Ann Nunez,
and Sharlot Jansen (now Bott) are three professional
Dancers/Teachers who made significant contributions to
female styling of West Coast Swing in the
1990s. More have joined the ranks since then, most
significantly, Tatiana Mollmann.
SUBTLE TRIPLE -
(1) Those TRIPLES that FEEL like a Triple
in the dancers CPB, but are danced with little or no
movement in the feet. An observer does not see or
hear the three weight changes, but the dancer
feels the movement and a "practiced eye” can see it take
(2) Many "West Coast Swing" and "Nightclub Two
Step" dancers use SUBTLE TRIPLES as a form of styling. (3)
A "Dig Step" that is slightly stronger than a "Tap
Step", has become a "Subtle Triple."
Carlito Rofoli, Orange County, California, is
known Nationwide for his "Subtle" movement in
West Coast Swing. His Dancing and his Teaching have
earned him the Title "MR. SMOOTH.”
(also see: DIG, TRIPLE RHYTHM)
SUGAR FOOT (Swivel Walk) -
(1) An action where the Left foot
swivels to the right before the right foot
steps forward. The Right foot lands and swivels to
the Left before the Left foot steps forward. (2)
In the 1940s this move was a popular “Boogie” move for
Lindy dancers, whenever the girl walked forward or
stayed in place doing Double Rhythm. (3) These
are now called "Swivel Walks" and are used
occasionally in all forms of swing.
(also see: JITTERBUG, LINDY, SHIM SHAM, SUGAR PUSH,
SUGAR PUSH (Push Break) -
(1) A "two hand" 6-beat, West Coast
Swing pattern that brings the girl in and
takes her back out again without turning left or
right. (2) As the style of Swing changed, the
"sugar foot" styling was no longer standard and
around 1980, the pattern started being called a PUSH
(also see: JITTERBUG, PUSH BREAK, SUGAR FOOT)
(1) A 1940s move that is part of the "Big
Apple." (a circular Line Dance of that era). (2)
the Suzy-Q is a series of cross
swivels, characterized by the hands being clasped
in front of the body with each elbow straight out
to the side.
(A) The elbows, moving Right and Left,
counter-balance the swivels. (B) The "Call" is "
Swivel Cross - Swivel Step" to a count of "&a1
&a2." With the weight on the ball of the Left
foot, swivel to the left on "&" and
Cross the Right foot over the Left foot on count
"1," firmly planting the Right HEEL into the
floor. Swivel on the Right HEEL to the Right on
"&" and step back Left on count
"2" (repeat). (C) The elbow pulls to the
Right on count "1" and to the Left on count "2".
(also see: CROSS SWIVEL)
(1) A Dance Pose in both Couples
and Solo Dancing. (2) In solo dancing the
dancer is positioned on the toes, head pulled
back, with arms stretched back, hands turned palms
out, chest and CPB pressed up and Forward. The
Swan position came from the form in a "Swan
Dive." (3) In Couples Dancing, the Lady is in
the same position as the "SOLO" description,
except that the man is behind her, holding both
hands, which allows her to really "stretch" the
Swan pose. This pose is used in many Slow Dances and
also in a Reverse Push Break in West Coast
(1) The reaction of the shoulders following the
drive of the "Center" (CPB). The CPB
travels toward the weighted foot, and then
the shoulder FOLLOWS. (2) A good SWAY
can be achieved in any Smooth Dance by centering on the
receiving foot and having the shoulders complete the
action on the Upbeat.
SWEETHEART (Promenade) -
A Dance Position where the Lady is on the man's
Right side with her right hand connected to his Right
hand behind the Lady’s right shoulder. Her Left
hand is connected to his Left hand at her left shoulder.
The arms are rounded and the hands are lifted to
shoulder height or a little above (Sweetheart can also
be on the man’s left side.)
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION CHART)
SWING DANCE -
(1) Swing, as defined by the Swing Dance Council,
is an all- American Rhythm dance consisting of
basically 6 or 8-beat patterns that cover either
a circular or slotted area on the dance floor.
Swing incorporates Underarm Turns, Side Passes, Pushes,
and Whips plus Rhythm Breaks, Syncopations and
Extensions of the same.
Different dances are born in different parts of
the world at the same time. Dances come about
because dancers interpret the music of the day. Swing
Music of the 1940s gave birth to a wide variety of
dances we have now come to categorize as Swing.
Author's Note: In the 1990s communication
among various styles of Swing Dancing was brought about
largely through the success of Jitterbug Magazine
(editor Cay Cannon of Laguna Beach, CA) and the efforts
of the Swing Dance Council.
(also see: BALBOA, BALLROOM SWING, CAROLINA SHAG,
EAST COAST SWING, HAND DANCING, HOUSTON WHIP, IMPERIAL
SWING, LINDY, TEXAS PUSH, WEST COAST SWING)
(1) An action that takes place on the weighted
foot. (2) The weighted foot presses into
the floor with the ball of the foot, releasing the
heel of the weighted foot. The heel moves left or
right as the press takes place on the ball of the
The technique involved in developing good
swivels requires concentration on the weighted
foot rather than on the free foot. The "Swivel"
takes place on the "&a" count before each weight change.
(also see: CROSS SWIVEL, KICK SWIVEL, SWIVEL WALK)
SYNCHRONIZE - (1) The act of 2 people doing the
same thing at the same time. (2) Side by Side
Routines should be "synchronized."
SYNCOPATED RHYTHMS -
(1) Dance Rhythms (Rhythm Units) that change the
Basic Rhythms by stepping on the "&" or the "a"
count, and doing something else (a
"tap," "kick," “ hold,” etc.) on the actual Beat of
(1) The "rearrangement" of the metered beat.
(2) For the Dancer, it is the
rearrangement of the weight changes within the
"2-Beat" Rhythms. (3) Stepping BEFORE the
beat (on the "&" or the "a" count) and then
stepping again, or doing something ELSE on the actual
beat of the Music. Example: Count: "&a1."
Lift your knee on the "&," step on the "a"
and "Kick" on count "1." Kick again on count
“2.” This is a "Syncopated Single."
The understanding and teaching of
Syncopations has developed significantly. In
West Coast Swing in the late 1970s, a petite
dancer, known as "Little Annie," had people
awe-struck over her syncopated footwork. With
the benefit of "The System," we were able to
break down all of the interesting variations that
fascinated the dancing world. Those were the start
of an endless progression of syncopations. "Little
Annie" is ANNIE HIRSCH, current president of the
World Swing Dance Council. Annie lives in Corona Del
(also see: ADVANCED RHYTHM, CALIFORNIA SHUFFLE,
TANDEM TURN -
Both partners turning in the same direction at the same
time on the SAME foot.
(also see: TURN CHART)
(1) There are primarily THREE styles of
Tango being taught today (2005). American Style
Argentine Tango and International Tango both
progress "Line of Dance" around the room. (2) Tango
Argentino, which is currently referred to as
Argentine Tango, is more of a Rhythm Dance that
moves wherever the mood leads. (3) American
Style Argentine Basics are "8-Beat" Patterns with a
"Rhythm Pattern" of "SINGLE - SINGLE - DOUBLE
- BLANK." (4) The Show "Tango Argentino" in
the late '80s spawned "Tango Clubs" all over the
United States and Europe. That particular style is
"The" style of the 1990s.
(5) MICHAEL WALKER and LUREN BELUCCI have thrilled
audiences all over the world with their Precision,
Footwork and Musical Interpretation. (6) Year 2005:
Miriam Laricci & Hugo Patyn are the toast of every
town they visit - throughout Europe and the Americas.
In teaching basic American Style Argentine
Tango, most of the teachers we interviewed had been
taught the popular "Call" of: "Slow, Slow,
Quick-Quick, Slow". "Discovery" teaches us: the
last "Slow" in that call is NOT a "Slow"
but is actually two whole beats of music with NO
weight changes. Counts "7 & 8" can be a "Touch and
hold" or a "Drag and hit" or whatever styling you
prefer. It is actually a "Blank Rhythm Unit."
(see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART, RHYTHM CHART)
(1) A touching of the free foot to the floor
without changing weight. The most recognized use is
a "Tap Step" (Delayed Single) in West Coast
Swing. (2) Tap Dancing (Performing Arts) is also
referred to as simply "Tap."
Historical Note: Many of the old-time tap
dancers who learned to Swing dance are convinced that
syncopations were absorbed into Swing from Tap
Dancing, mainly because of the similarity of the Music
and particularly of the beat.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: As a tap dancer on
the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey, there is no
doubt that my ability to create syncopations at the
sound of a riff in a piece of music is due to my
background as a "Hoofer." Most Syncopated
Rhythms actually FEEL like tap dancing.
(also see: DIG, TAP STEP)
TAP STEP -
(1) The "Call" for a "Delayed Single" Rhythm
Unit. The "Tap" is on the Downbeat and the Step is
on the Upbeat. (2) A "Tap Step" is a
Secondary Rhythm and should be taught after all the
Basic Rhythms are understood and danced.
(also see: DELAYED SINGLE)
(1) Instructing someone in a way that produces a
skill that the student wants to learn. (2)
Showing (or demonstrating) is a basic form
of teaching but is not complete by itself.
Showing only reaches the small percentage of people
who have the ability to copy what they see. (3)
Knowing the essence of a dance, and being able to
relate that information by demonstration, verbal
communication, and "hands on" physical practice.
There is a saying that helps the Teacher develop
patience and understanding: " You may have
demonstrated, explained and written down the pattern,
but you have not TAUGHT until the student LEARNS."
TEACHING RULE - see RULES
TEACHING TOOL - see TOOLS
TECHNIQUE - (WORK IN PROGRESS)
(1) A discipline to achieve a specific goal.
(2) .............(3) Examples include: Foot
Placement, Force Points, Body Alignment, Hand and Arm
Placement, "Basic Rhythms" and "Syncopations" that are
on time -- all in relationship to the "Center Point
of Balance" (CPB) and to The MUSIC.
(also see: CENTER POINT of BALANCE)
The speed of the Music (Nothing more, nothing
less). Tempo is determined by the number of Beats per
(also see: BEATS per MINUTE CHART)
TENSION - see CONNECTION, LEVERAGE
(1) The specific words used in any given
(2) The words that define the boundaries of that
Mixing Ballet terms, Basketball terms,
International terms or Jazz terms, unless they are
identical, is a real hazard in teaching Social,
Swing, Latin, Country and/or Line Dancing. A student of
Social Dance should not have to learn several
languages. A Plié in Ballet is really MORE than
just bending the knees. In social dance language a
"Knee bend" is simply a "Knee bend."
AUTHOR'S NOTE: TERMINOLOGY is our greatest
communication tool. The terminology for the
UNIVERSAL UNIT SYSTEM® has spread world-wide in it's
40 years of existence. Literally hundreds of words,
coined by GSDTA, have been "clarified" and
absorbed into the extended Dance Community. (3)
GSDTA has been foremost in research and
development of "Terminology," with a sincere effort to
confine the "words" to the world of American
Social and Competitive Couples Dancing.
TEXAS SWING - see DALLAS PUSH and HOUSTON WHIP
THREE TOE BASE (3-Toe Base) -
(1) The big toe and the two toes that are closest to
the big toe. (2) This relatively new dance term has
gained considerable popularity in the swing dance world
over the past 12 years.
Teaching a dancer to step in the center of the
heel (of the sending foot) and press through the “3-Toe
Base” is a great help in teaching centering. It creates
better balance, keeps a dancer from dancing pigeon-toed,
and keeps the weight from centering over the outside of
TIME (DOUBLE TIME - HALF TIME - 2005) -
(1) "Double Time" means dancing twice as fast as the
music. (2) “Half Time” refers to dancing only half
as fast as the music. There are very fast pieces of
music where a dancer can dance swing by counting only
(also see: TIME, SINGLE, DOUBLE, TRIPLE TIME)
TIME (SINGLE TIME - DOUBLE TIME - TRIPLE TIME - 1950)
(1) In the 1950s, "Time" was used to denote
differences in the Rhythms in Swing Dancing
at Arthur Murray Studios. (A) "Single Time"
referred to dancing “Step touch - Step touch.”
(B) “Double Time” referred (in the 1950s) to
dancing "Tap step - Tap Step." (THIS term has a totally
different meaning today.) (C) "Triple Time" meant
dancing “Step 3 times - Step 3 times.”
In the realm of dance, these terms were not described
as “Rhythms” until after the publishing of “So You Want
To Learn To Dance?” by Skippy Blair in 1964. After
1968, even Laure’ Haile referred to “rhythms” (instead
of single time, double time, etc.) She also referred to
“dots and slashes” in her later writings, instead of her
original use of long and short dashes which represented
Quicks and Slows..
(also see: SINGLE RHYTHM, DOUBLE RHYTHM, TRIPLE
TIME PLACEMENT -
(1) Knowing the actual Counts where the
weight changes are taking place. (2) West
Coast Swing Syncopations are almost all taking place
on the "a" count rather than the "&" count.
Seeing that count on paper, or hearing the count
as you step, makes you more aware of "Time
Try not to tell a student how long to "hold" a
specific step. Rather, tell them the count where
the weight change takes place.. Here is a poem that
clarified the problem at a Teachers Intensive:
Please don't tell me how long to hold the beat.
Tell me where the COUNT is, so I can place my
(also see: BEAT, COUNT, SYNCOPATION, TIME VALUE)
TIME SIGNATURE -
(1) The "3/4 or 4/4" that appears on sheet
music to tell us how many beats of music are in one
measure. (2) Waltz is written in 3/4-time,
which tells us that there are three "quarter notes"
to one measure of music. All of the other Ballroom,
Country, Latin and Swing dances are written in
4/4- time. That means that there are four "quarter
notes" to one measure of music. (3) The
TOP number tells you how many beats of music
in the measure. The BOTTOM number tells you
what KIND of notes. (4) There are a few
exceptions to the rule, but they do not affect the
dancer. Some Sambas and a few other dances are
sometimes written in 2/4 time, but the dancer still
dances in "2-BEAT" INCREMENTS and the "8-Beat"
mini-phrase will be counted the same in 2/4 time or in
(also see: MUSICIANS NOTE)
(1) "Control of the speed of the action."
(Webster's New American Dictionary) (2) In Dance,
we add: “Control of the speed of the action - while
centering over the weight changes, based on the various
Dance Rhythms.” (3) Timing in Syncopations
requires the "kicks", "points", etc. to be ON the
beat of the Music, while the "Steps" (weight
changes) take place on the "a" counts. (4) In a
Dance Competition, timing is based on the
ability of the dancer to transfer weight on the correct
beats and counts of the music.
If you have ever watched a really difficult
gymnastic move, that received a rather
lukewarm applause - and then observed another couple
executing a rather simple pattern where the
crowd roared to its feet, you have probably
witnessed what is referred to as “Critical Timing”. (
precise timing) This phenomenon can be taught
starting on Day One. Get the dancer to think in
terms of body movement rather than foot placement.
Particularly in SWING, the feet can hit the floor
on time, and the dancer still be off time if
the CPB lands late.
(also see: BEAT, CPB, PULSE, RECEIVING FOOT)
(1) A common term in "Footwork" that
refers to the "Ball of the Foot". The ball of
the foot lands first and lowers to the heel. All
patterns in Mambo, Rumba, Cha-Cha and Mambolero are
(also see: HEEL LEAD)
(1) a Weight Change where one foot lands in 1st
foot Position, changing weight as it lands. (2)
Example: a "Side Together" is a "Call" for two
complete weight changes. That is Double Rhythm,
stepping to the side on count "1" and bringing the feet
together on count "2".
TOOLS (Teaching Tools) -
(1) Something a Teacher uses that is in addition
to a specific Rule - in order to accomplish a
desired result. There are wonderful Teaching Tools
available. Example: I might tell a Lady who kept
her eyes on the ground, to "Look at the Ceiling".
This was for a specific person - to fix a
specific problem. The statement did not create a Rule.
(2) Tools are something we use to fix things.
(also see: RULES)
TORQUE TURN -
(1) Stepping forward on the Left foot to
turn Right and still continue moving in the
direction you were traveling (as in count "2" for
the Lady in a West Coast Swing WHIP). (2) Stepping
forward on the RIGHT FOOT to turn LEFT (The reverse
of a Pivot Turn). (3) From a stationary
position, one can "Torque" the top half of the body
in one direction in order to TURN in the opposite
(also see: BREAK TURN, PIVOT TURN)
(1) The feeling created when the bottom of the
"sending foot" grips the floor to send the
body in a new direction. (2) Imagine a "tire tread"
on the bottom of your shoe.
(also see: PRESS, SENDING FOOT)
TRAVELING PIVOT - see PIVOT
TRIPLE RHYTHM -
(1) THREE steps ( 3 weight changes) to TWO Beats
(2) A "LEFT Triple" steps "Left & Right
Left". A “RIGHT Triple" steps "Right & Left
Right.” (3) In 4/4 time, "Basic" Triples are
counted: "1&a2", "3&a4" , "5&a6" and "7&a8". (4)
In 3/4 time, a WALTZ can be counted: "1 2 3 & 4 5
6" OR using Rolling Count “&a1 &a2 &a3 - &a4 &a5 &a6”
Keeping the CPB over the Unit Foot is a Rule
that works wonders for teaching technique,
even at Basic level. Stepping Left & Right Left,
the CPB stays over the Left foot for the entire
Triple. That exercise develops good Triples in Basic
(also see: ROLLING TRIPLE, SYNCOPATED TRIPLE)
TRIPLE RHYTHM BREAK -
(1) The name of a pattern in West Coast
Swing. This "4-Beat" Rhythm Break is danced
in a one hand, open position, with the Lady at the end
of the slot. (2) He steps "Left Right Left and
Right Left Right", staying in place while he leads the
lady into a "Right & Left Right and a Left &
Right Left. The Count is: "1&a2 - 3&a4"
He swivels the lady to her Right on "&a" before "1"
and to her left on the "&a" before count "3".
This is an excellent basic pattern for
teaching any form of Swing. It teaches the man to
lead the lady from his center, rather than arm leading.
This pattern teaches the lady how to press her
foot down into the floor, creating a swivel action,
keeping the knee pointing in the same direction as the
foot. This action teaches both partners how to
“center” over the "UNIT FOOT" in order to make
the Triples feel more comfortable and controlled.
This is the first pattern taught in the
GSDTA curriculum in all forms of Swing.
(also see: PRESS, TRIPLE RHYTHM, UNIT FOOT)
TRIPLE TWO STEP (HOUSTON SHUFFLE) -
(1) The Rhythm Pattern is "DOUBLE -
TRIPLE - TRIPLE" and the "Count" is "1 2 - 3&4 -
This dance is the same as Regular Country Two
Step, except that the Single Rhythm Units have
been replaced with Triple Rhythm Units.
(also see: COUNTRY TWO STEP, DANCE IDENTIFICATION
CHART, RHYTHM VARIATION)
(1) "Trots" are all DOUBLE RHYTHM running
steps - stepping on every beat of the music - and
danced on the Ball of the foot.
(also see: RUN, WALK)
(1) A Dance step from the 1940s that steps
straight ahead and then moves the Toe out to the side
(Weight centered on the heel). (2) Step forward
Left on count "1" and do a "Toe Fan" on
count "2." Step forward Right on count "3"
and do a "Toe Fan" on count "4." (3) A
characteristic Hand Styling for Truckin' is to
shake the pointer finger in the air, in time with
the music and each foot placement.
Truckin' has a Movement Unit of "Down-Down".
When any dance has a Movement Unit, it is
important to teach that movement FIRST. The
movement is part of the "Essence" of the dance.
TRUCKIN'' was easy to do in the 1940s because the
dancers were already familiar with the
movement. It was the same movement as the "subtle
bounce" in the Jitterbug and Balboa. Truckin' was
part of the "Big Apple" in the 1940's.
(also see: BALBOA, JITTERBUG, MOVEMENT UNIT)
(1) A term that covers many different moves
that have essentially the same basis for
execution. (2) In SWING, any kind of TUCK (East
Coast, West Coast, Imperial, etc.) can be done if
the lady turns left before turning right. Example:
SHE counts "1-2, 3&a4" (turning left on 3 and
right on 4) and completes the pattern with counts
There are moves in Country Two Step and
Fox Trot that SEEM like TUCKS or
PRE-LEADS, but are actually brought about by dancing
Contra-Body on the beat before the Right Turn.
(also see: CONTRA-BODY, WEST COAST SWING)
TURNS - see BOX TURNS, BREAK TURNS, CROSS TURNS, HOOK
TURNS, INSIDE ROLL, OUTSIDE ROLL, PADDLE TURNS, PENCIL
TURNS, PIVOT TURNS, SLIP PIVOT, SPINS, SWIVELS, TORQUE
TWO BEAT INCREMENT ("2-Beat" Increment) -
(1) The smallest measurement or "UNIT" of Dance.
(2) All step patterns, in all dances danced to
4/4 time music, are composed of two or more specific
Rhythms. Each Rhythm is confined to one “2-Beat” Rhythm
Line Dancing, Social Dance, Country Dance,
Ballroom Dance - no matter what kind of dance (to 4/4
time music) it will be easier to teach and easier to
learn if you break the patterns down into specific
(also see: RHYTHM UNITS, WALTZ)
TWO HAND POSITION -
A dance position where both partners are joined
by both hands. His Left Hand to her Right and His
Right hand to her Left. If no further
clarification is made, it is assumed the Lady is facing
the man, as in Swing.
(also see: DANCE POSITIONS, DANCE POSITION CHART)
TWO STEP -
An early form of Fox Trot that got it's
name from stepping twice (Quick-Quick) before stepping
once (Slow) The original Fox Trot was all "Quicks".0
(also see: COUNTRY TWO STEP, FOX TROT, NIGHTCLUB TWO
(1) The smallest increment of Dance. (2) Two
Beats of Music in 4/4-time or 3 beats of music in
3/4-time. (3) For the ANNOTATION of a Unit,
each RHYTHM UNIT is encased in a rectangle
for easy identification.
(also see: ANNOTATION, COUNT, RHYTHM CHART)
UNIT CARD -
(1) "FLASH CARDS" designed to visually note
the RHYTHMS in the ANNOTATION SYSTEM of
the UNIVERSAL UNIT SYSTEM®. (2) These
visual aids are particularly helpful in public
education, or anywhere the teacher can have the cards
displayed where the student can see the number of weight
changes in each rhythm. The CARDS facilitate learning
and also contribute to developing creativity at
it's most basic form.
UNIT FOOT -
(1) A LEFT UNIT keeps the CPB
centered over the Left foot for two beats of
music. A RIGHT UNIT keeps the CPB centered
over the Right foot for two beats of music.
(2) At a Basic level learning the concept of
"Weight over the Unit Foot" will produce better
centered "Triples" that look more professional.
(3) A Left Triple keeps the CPB over
the Left Foot. A Right Triple keeps the
CPB over the Right foot. (4) A Double
Rhythm Unit splits the CPB to alternate or
vary the placement of the CPB within the 2
beats of music.
Basic students who learn how to use the UNIT
FOOT in relationship to their "Center" (CPB)
reap great rewards when more advanced material is
performed. This concept trains the dancer to think in
terms of how to move the body, rather than where
to place the feet. It is the Body that dances.
Foot placement is the underpinning that supports the
(also see: TRIPLE RHYTHM)
UNIVERSAL UNIT SYSTEM® -
(1) A method of training dancers that emphasizes
connecting the Dancer to the MUSIC - starting on
lesson ONE. "The SYSTEM" concentrates on
ELEMENTS of MUSIC and TIMING and ELEMENTS of
MOVEMENT. (2) This "System" isolates the components
and covers ALL forms of dance, Social level
to Performance level. (3) This is the
Trademark for the teaching system and system of
ANNOTATION that is the basis for Certification
through the Golden State Dance Teachers Association.
(also see: RHYTHM CHART, the FORWARD in the front of
UPBEAT - see DOWNBEATS & UPBEATS
U.S. OPEN SWING DANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS -
(1) The Grand Daddy of National Swing Dance
Conventions. Every Thanksgiving week-end, for 17
years, the event was held at the Disneyland Hotel in
Anaheim, Ca. (2) Founders and Organizers for the
1st 17 years were Jack and Mary Ann Bridges. (3)
The year 2000 celebrated the 18th annual Convention. In
2003 a new Board of Directors has taken the event to an
even broader scope and changed the location.
VERBAL PATTERN - see PATTERN, VERBAL
VERBAL CALL - see PATTERN, VERBAL
VERTICAL RHYTHM -
(1) The action of the CPB in each
"2-Beat" Rhythm, in relationship to the leg action:
"Down-Up" - "Up-Down"- "Down -Down" - "Up-Up."
(2) Vertical Rhythm is the foundation for a
MOVEMENT UNIT. (3) Samba has a Movement Unit
of "Down-Down" in opposition to Niteclub Two
Step, which has a Movement Unit of "Up-Up."
(also see: MOVEMENT UNIT, NITECLUB TWO STEP, SAMBA)
VIENNESE WALTZ - see WALTZ
(1) A shorter version of a Grapevine. (2) A "zig-zag"
move that fits into many different dances. A Basic
Vine example: "Side, Cross Behind - Side, Touch" to a
Count of "1 2 - 3 4". Most Line Dances use
3 steps with a "Touch", "Brush, "Heel", "Stomp", or
"Kick" on Count "4" to free the other foot to
reverse the direction.
(also see: GRAPEVINE, LINE DANCE)
(1) A Dance Walk in Fox Trot is usually
SINGLE RHYTHM (1 step to 2 beats of music). The
"CALL" could be "Step Brush - Step Brush",
stepping forward on Count "1", brushing one knee
to the other on Count "2" - stepping forward
again on Count "3" and brushing through on
Count "4". A Fox Trot "Walk" is almost always danced
with a "Heel lead". (2) “ Walk-Walk” is DOUBLE
RHYTHM and is an important term in West Coast Swing.
The followers part of most West Coast Swing patterns
start with a “Walk-Walk”
In WCS, in order to be able to center properly
over the correct foot, the weight should land in the
arch area on counts “1 - 2” of the pattern. Many dancers
choose to land toe first because it allows a smooth look
with the least amount of effort and expertise.
Landing on the front part of the heel produces
stronger centering and body flight However, heel leads
take more effort and control to keep from landing on the
back of the heel.
(also see: RUN, STRUT, TROT)
(1) A Dance done to 3/4 time music (One
Down Beat and Two Up Beats).
(2) The characteristic of Waltz is the
Rise and Fall. The degree of Rise and Fall
changes with the tempo. The slower the tempo, the
greater the Rise and Fall. (3) AMERICAN WALTZ
consists primarily of "6 beat" Patterns that
match the Music when each new pattern is started on
the "Heavy" Measure. (4) COUNTRY WALTZ is
primarily medium tempo but has a wider
range in the slow tempos. This leads to a
variety of syncopations Country Waltz is distinguished
by patterns that pass the feet in a progressive
drive around LOD. The essence and character of Country
Waltz is further enhanced by the country dress code,
complete with hats and boots. (5) INTERNATIONAL WALTZ
is the slowest form, and therefore uses the
most syncopations to fill in the time slots. Slow
music requires a greater degree of measured movement.
(6) VIENNESE WALTZ is the fastest variety, and uses
a lot of SINGLE RHYTHM rather than Triples. (7)
Both American and Country Waltz are medium tempo
and share overlapping tempos in both the slow
end and the faster tempos.
In WALTZ, It is important to count all six
beats of each pattern. If counted in "3's",
dancers have difficulty recognizing the "extra 3's"
that may appear in the phrasing of the music.
Count "1 2 3 and 4 5 6". Counting “6’s”
conditions the Leader to recognize when he needs
to change footwork to match the phrasing of the music.
Waltz is performed at it’s best when counted out in
Rolling Count. (&a1 &a2 &a3 - &a4 &a5 &a6)
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
(1) A Body Ripple that starts at the
top and Ripples down. (2) Waves were
very popular moves in Swing in the 1990's. (3) An
exercise for practicing a "Wave": Standing
with your back flat against a wall, with right heel
against the wall and Left foot forward: Keep
your back pressed to the wall. Now, trying to
keep your back pressed against the wall, Press your chin
straight forward , stretching toward your forward
foot. As the chin reaches its full stretch, press
the head up and back toward the wall. A Ripple effect
will start at your chin and go down to your feet.
(also see: RIPPLE)
WEEDS - Why have the word “WEED” in a Dictionary of
Dance ? By popular request. A "WEED" is something we
plant in the minds of students when we give them
anything less than the best we have to offer. We are
guilty of "Planting Weeds" when we:
(1) Count patterns by counting steps or moves
instead of beats of music.
(2) Teaching Patterns without relating the
pattern to a beat of music.
(3) Assuming people "Just want to have Fun"
- People DO want to have fun, but they also want to
This little poem prompted the request for this
Be careful of the seeds you Plant:
No matter how much you water the seed -
If you PLANT a weed - you GROW a
(also see: SEEDS)
WEIGHTED FOOT -
(1) The "supporting" foot. (2) The
foot that supports the "Center Point of Balance"
(CPB) with full weight.
(also see: FREE FOOT, PRESS, RECEIVING FOOT, SENDING
WEST COAST SWING -
(1) A highly stylized form of Swing that is
identifiable by two main characteristics: (a)
it is a slotted dance distinguished by
it's love affair with syncopations and musical
interpretation (b) The follower does a
"Walk-Walk" traveling forward on counts "1" and
"2" of each pattern. (2) In the 1950's, this
dance was called "Western Swing" - "Sophisticated
Swing" and sometimes simply "Slot Swing" in the
Chain Studios. Many Studios still use those names today.
(3) West Coast Swing was declared the official
State Social Dance of California on October 1st, 1988.
West Coast Swing is an evolving dance
that is consistently “up-to-date!. Today, this dance
requires a "50-50" partnership. It is an
"educated" dance where the "follower" needs to know as
much about the dance as the "leader." West Coast Swing
is one of the few that reflects the social attitudes
of the day: Although HE is the leader and
sets the tone of the dance, SHE has the freedom to
interpret the music and use syncopations in patterns
that he might not even know (or care to know). This
"Partnership" can be compared to Jazz musicians,
where one person goes off on a tangent while the other
players keep the beat. West Coast Swing is literally a
"High Tech" GAME played to music.
Historical Note: The name "WEST COAST
SWING", didn't surface into mainstream Swing Circles
until the middle 1960's. In 1958, with the
opening of the Skippy Blair Studios in Downey,
California, "Western" Swing" was not a salable item
(Nothing Western was popular in Downey in 1958).
We told the Chamber of Commerce, and anyone
else who would listen, that "Western" really
meant "West Coast". Jim, editor of the Herald
American remarked: "then why don't you say that ?"
The new ads advertised West Coast Swing (1958).
When the GOLDEN WEST BALLROOM opened in Norwalk,
California, "West Coast Swing" was on the
Marquee as the Dance being taught every W3dnesday
night. (for 13 years - 1967 through 1980).
(also see: DANCE IDENTIFICATION CHART)
WESTERN SWING - see WEST COAST SWING, COUNTRY SWING
WHIP (The Dance) -
The style of Swing that is done in Houston and other
parts of Texas.
(also see: HOUSTON WHIP)
WHIP (The Step Pattern) -
(1) An "8 beat" Step Pattern in all forms
of Swing. Standard Whip Rhythm is
“Double, Triple, Double, Triple”. Rhythm Variations
include: Tap Steps, Kick Steps, etc. (2) In
East Coast Swing, the Whip is a circular pattern
that revolves 1.5 times. It is released on "7&8". (3)
In West Coast Swing, the release is on
count "4" in a Release Whip, and on count "5"
in a Power Whip. (4) Basic West Coast Swing
Whip "Call": (4-a) He: "Back Left, Turn Right" on "1
2" - "Back &, In Place, Side" on "3 &a4" (Start
rotating right on Count "4" - and rotate through “4&a”)
- "Cross on 5, & Side 6" (This places him in a
crossed position with the right foot crossed over the
left foot) -& an "Anchor in Place" on "7&a8".
(4-b) She: "Forward, Forward" on "1 2" - (rotate
right on "&a") "Back &, Together, Forward" on
"3&a4" - (rotate right on "&a") - drive "Back &a
Back" on "5&a 6" - "Anchor in Place" on
"7&a8". (5) It is important that she
really drive Back on count "5”, followed by another
Back step on 6". This action turns the man around.
It also contributes to a better Continuous Whip.
WORLD SWING DANCE COUNCIL (WSDC) -
(1) A World-wide, non-profit organization,
dedicated to "Communication" and "Education" in
the World of Swing Dancing. (2) Our National
Headquarters is currently in Corona Del Mar, California,
and we have Associates all over the world. (3)
Training Seminars for Teachers, Judges and Serious
Students has kept the "Discovery" process alive and well
for many years. For current information, Board of
Directors, Events etc. go online at:
(1) a two hand Dance Position that has the Lady
in the center with the man's arms surrounding her.
(2) Cradle and Cuddle are two alternative names
for the same move. (3.) Cliff Gewecke suggested
that in that “WRAP” is the last word in our Terminology
Notebook, perhaps this paragraph really IS the WRAP!
(1) GSDTA teaches 3 separate Body Zones.
but recognizes and teaches only one "Center Point of
Balance" (2) The HIP ZONE covers the top of the
hip bone down to where the hip socket connects to the
leg. (3) The SHOULDER ZONE goes from the top of
the shoulders down through the lower edge of the rib
cage. (4) the CENTER ZONE ties everything
together by overlapping the lower edge of the ribcage
and the upper tip of the hips. By tying the Zones
together, the body achieves a lifted, more professional
look, with a greater degree of control.
PLEASE NOTE: Major updates (additions and/or
re-writes) have been performed on 5-29-06.
Minor updates will not be listed.