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Dictionary of ballroom and Latin dances and dance terms

We hope you find this dictionary of ballroom and Latin dances and dance terms highly useful in your quest for dancing information. Terms are sorted alphabetically, making this a handy reference for beginning and advanced dancers alike. Common Abbreviations are listed in their own section.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M
N | O |
P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Common Abbreviations


accent – the dominant beat of the music measure, usually the first beat of the measure.

adage, adagio – slowly developed movements such as attitudes, arabesques, and developpes where only one foot is in contact with the floor.
See 'Definitions of Dance Terms' video >>

allegro – fast movements where only one foot is in contact with the floor. These include kicks and flicks.
See 'Definitions of Dance Terms' video >>

amalgamation - A combination of two or more patterns or movements.

American style - The American style smooth dances allow the dancers to be in open positions allowing much freedom of choreography. The nine dances of American style ballroom dances are divided into two groups: 1) Smooth style consisting of: foxtrot, waltz, tango, and Viennese waltz and 2) Rhythm style consisting of: cha cha, rumba, East Coast Swing, bolero, and mambo.

anchor step - The anchor step is a stationary triple step danced in third foot position to the timing of 1&2. It is popular in the west coast swing.
See 'Basic Steps in Ballroom Dancing' video >>

and - Half of a quick count (half of a beat).

Arabesquearabesque - A pose with one leg stretched straight out to the back and one arm usually stretched out to the front. The back leg may be on the floor or at 45, 90, or 135 degrees. These angles are measured from the vertical. So, 90 degrees means parallel to the floor.

attitude - A pose. As with the arabesque, the working leg is raised. But unlike the arabesque, it is bent, not straight, and, also unlike the arabesque, it can be done to the front, the side, or the back. In attitude to the front or the back, if the angle is 90 degrees, the calf should be as nearly horizontal as possible.


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