Outline: Basic Elements 

Adams American Style Ballroom
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Outline: Basic Elements


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Free Fox Trot Lesson

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Basic Elements of Couples Dancing


  • I. Timing: When to step (in time with the music)
    • Music has various timing, with accents on various counts (see Article)
      • Most music is 4/4 time, counting 1, 2, 3, 4:
        • Accent on 1 & 3 for Fox Trot and East Coast Swing
        • Accent on 1, 3, 4 for Rumba (double timed with off beats, omit or triple time [1 &-uh 2] count 2)
        • Accent every beat for Polka & West Coast Swing
        • Double timed (half beats) with accent on every count for Cha Cha and much Rock (count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &)
        • Accent on half beat before count 1 for Tango;
      • Waltz is 3/4 time with accent on count 1;
      • Samba and Meringue are 2/4 double time with accents on every count (count 1 & 2, 1 & 2).
    • A measure of music is one count of 4 (or 3 or 2).
    • Steps do not necessarily fit a measure of music; they may require a varying number of counts.
      • A quick step takes 1 count;
      • A slow step takes 2 counts;
      • A balance step (Waltz only) takes 3 counts
      • A triple step has three steps in 2 counts (1&2, or 4&1);
        • Even time in Cha Cha, West Coast Swing, Polka (two eighth notes and a quarter note);
        • Syncopated in East Coast Swing, Samba (dotted eighth note, sixteenth note, and a quarter note).
  • II. Patterns: Where to step (direction & feet positions)
    • Five main foot positions:
      • 1st Position: Feet together
      • 2nd Position: Step to side (left or right), toes forward
      • 3rd Position: Step to side, toes of moving foot pointing in direction of the step (example, promenade)
      • 4th Position: Step forward or back, toes pointed forward
      • 5th Position: Ball of (either) foot behind heel of other
    • B. Some other foot positions:
      • Diagonal 2nd: step diagonal, toes pointed forward
      • Diagonal 3rd: step diagonal, toes pointed on the diagonal;
      • Lock Position: Feet crossed, slightly apart, back of knee touching kneecap of other leg.
  • III. Techniques: How two people step together as one
    • A. Direction of Movement
      • Line of Dance (LOD): Traffic moves counterclockwise
      • Passing on outside toward wall, spot steps toward center
      • Dancers' Compass (see diagram below)
        • Line of Dance (LOD)
        • Counter Line of Dance (Rear)
        • Center (left when facing LOD)
        • Wall (right when facing LOD; "face the wall" means back toward the center)
        • Diagonal Wall (half way between LOD and Wall)
        • Diagonal Center (half way between LOD and Center)
        • Diagonal Wall Rear (half way between Rear and Wall)
        • Diagonal Center Rear (half way between Rear and Center)
    • B. Guys lead, Gals follow
    • C. Body positions
      • Closed (see Fox Trot Lesson)
      • Promenade (conversation)
      • Right and Left Parallel
      • Wrap (cuddle)
      • Two Hand Hold
        • Swing (waist high, two fingers in gal's palms)
        • Latin (shoulder high, palm to palm)
      • Right or Left Open
      • Shine (apart, no hands)
      • Arch (guy lifts gal's hand, she turns forward under)
      • Loop (guy draws gal's hand between them and up around her head)
  • IV. Styling
    • Posture: Erect, rib cage tilts up where ribs meet spine;
    • Head Position: "Where the toes go, the nose goes";
    • Eyes Upward: Do not watch your feet;
    • Follow Through: Brush feet together on even numbered counts in steps taking more than one count in smooth dances and Waltz Balance steps;
    • Arm and Leg Positions: Vary with the step; elbows up;
    • Making a Line: Individual or couple pose, hold positions;
    • Tracing a Line: Arm/leg moves through the air or along floor
  • V. Animation
    • Facial expression should be pleasant;
    • Dress and general appearance should be appropriate;
    • Attitude: Look like you are having a good time;
    • Courtesy: To partner and other couples. Dance etiquette:
      • Guy may ask any gal to dance;
      • She may refuse, but if so, she may not accept another during the same piece of music;
      • On ladies' choice dance, gal may ask any guy;
      • On ladies' choice dance, guy may not refuse;
      • Guy may cut in on any couple, may not be refused;
      • Cut guy may not re-cut on same guy, but may enlist 2nd guy

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