Standard Technique

International Standard Technique

Dance Frame

Posture Elements

  1. Stretch the neck: do not lift the chin (which shortens the back of the neck). Think of head being pulling up (not forward) to the ceiling.
  2. Pull the spine (Tensile), pull back the center. Think of the spine being pulled from both ends (neck part being pulled up; tailbone part being pulled down).
    • The look to achieve is flat long back/spine with head.
  3. Compress butt cheeks: use whatever image you want to associate it with. "Engage", but not tensed up and locked up such that it can't move. Lift the hips to Man.

Starting a Dance - Getting Into Hold

10-point system when starting a standard dance - make this a ritual: (could be less dramatic for social occasions)
  1. Man assumes a dance posture, standing in upright position, lifting his ribs, weight toward the balls of the feet, rolling shoulders back. He raises his energy.
  2. Lady responds in kind.
  3. Man steps right foot forward, raises his left arm forward in front of him just below the shoulders height, and his right arm to side, offering his left hand to invite the lady, particularly the space between the thumb and forefinger.
    • When Man steps forward with RF, LF is behind front foot (RF). This creates a longer line.
  4. Lady steps forward toward Man, keep 4 feet in separate tracks. Lady places her right hand in the man's left hand, and they both close their fingers.
    • Lady's hand has a slight twist to the right, such that the the thumb and arm form a line.  Lady's R arm is in front of her body.
  5. Man draws his left elbow straight back, drawing the lady in, left hand at eye level, elbow making slightly more than 90 degrees. Forearm is 45 degrees from floor.
    • Man:
      • Man's left elbow should be even with his shoulder, not forward (which will make lady's arm go behind her back), not back (which will pull the lady).
      • Let Lady decides her comfortable position before Man settle his R arm position.
      • Left forearm bending degrees: Some coaches say: 91 degrees for all dances, except for Tango: 89 degrees :) - this obviously depends on the height difference between partners.
    • Lady: 
      • The lady stops with some separation between her feet and the Man's to allow for extension. Do not get too close.
      • Foot position for Lady: do not turn LF out. LF should be parallel to Man's foot.
      • Be careful not to "draw Man in". Man draws Lady in, not the other way around. Lady "gives" and projects "forward" and "up",
      • Lady starts with R arm in front, keep that position when Man draws his L elbow back, i.e. lady should not move upper body forward making R shoulder/upper arm start going back. Do not break right shoulder joint. Keep right elbow naturally curved (image a handbag hanging on R elbow), avoid having the whole R arm straight and stiff.
      • Lady's left arm is out to the side, but do not put it down till Man places his R hand (next few steps).
      • The whole arm should not break at shoulder joint. It should make a smooth curve. Roll shoulders down. Energy is "lifting up"
  6. Man places his right wrist under the place where the lady's arm meets the back of her shoulder.
  7. Man places his R hand under the lady's left shoulder blade, with all five fingers closed together (including big thumb), and the lady connects her body to Man.
    • Lady when making body contact:
      • Keep feet and head position, slightly flex knee forward and move the part from knee to 6th vertebrae forward toward man and make body contact.
      • Head weight counter balance the weight of middle part. It looks like the lady is bending backward a lot, but in fact, lady is quite 'forward' toward man. Weight is on balls of feet.
      • Avoid keeping leg/knee position and just bending back backwards, it shifts the weight backward and become heavy for man.
      • Lady lifts hips "up and forward" toward Man (remove gap between Lady and Man).
    • Some coaches prefer stronger body contact, and make the arm/hand contact very light.
    • Man's right hand: cup lady's shoulder, like a bowl, the hand is not straight up and down, it's slanted like a bowl.
      • Man's right hand: shouldn't need to curve his fingers. (Lady projects diagonally forward, spiral up - which will make Man's hand fit better without curving.)
  8. Lady places her L hand on the man's bicep, just under the deltoid, with the thumb parallel to the man's upper arm. Man's right elbow rises to make contact between the lady's upper arm and his forearm.
    • Man's frame should be such to allow the lady's elbows and arm to be even with her shoulders.
    • Coach's opinion: The man's left arm and the lady's left arm should make a straight horizontal line across the top. The lady keeps her own elbow high enough to make the line, and the man lifts his right elbow as necessary and appropriate to provide the points of contact for the lead.
    • Lady:
      • Preference: to make frame wider, Lady's L hand could be lower on Man's arm, closer to his elbow.
      • Lady's L hand has slight twist to left (wing outward), such that the left thumb making a smooth line with left arm. The palm is perpendicular to Man's arm.
      • Lady's left hand: only thumb and middle finger touch Man's shoulder, index, ring finger and pinky are all "lifted up". Lady projects "forward".  
      • Lady's upper arm should be quite "light" on the Man, do not push down on Man's arm. Dance "at" the Man, not grab or be on top.
    • If Lady is much shorter, Man should still keep elbow at reasonable height, while lowering R forearm put R hand around Lady's shoulder blade.
  9. Once Lady is in frame, Man steps to his left starting preparation step. A lot of shape. Keep hips forward and shoulders back. 
  10. Man steps to his right. Shape. Start the dance.
Five points of contact:
  1. Man's left hand to Lady's right hand
  2. Body contact with Lady on Man's R side
    • Concentrate on keeping hips forward, especially when stepping back. Hips need to keep forward to maintain connection. If hips go back, connection moves up to ribs, and shrinks the topline.
  3. Man's R hand cupping Lady's shoulder blade
  4. Lady's left upper arm on Man's forearm
  5. Lady's left hand below Man's bicep.

The Frame - Big Topline

A big topline increases the amount of space you appear to occupy as a couple and makes it easier for the couple to balance and turn. A small topline means you will probably have to stop and give way more often on crowded floors.

Maintaining consistent Posture and Frame throughout the dance is very important.
  • When music is fast (such as Quickstep), it's very easy for body to get tensed up. Lady tends to clamp their hands on Man's arms, left hand goes up and upper body gets too straight. All these makes frame smaller. Pay attention to keep the frame wide.
  • It doesn't mean the body is locked, though. Upper body may shape independently from hips.
  • Sway is used to maintain balance when stopping or changing direction. Sway has to go with turn and it is not done on its own. No broken sway.

Lady's frame

3 Curves:
In closed position, lady does not stand with our spines straight up and down. Lady has 3 curves:
  • Curve left: We place our weight on our left leg. In balancing, the spine will naturally tilt left. Maintain this position, straighten out the shoulders and arms in frame so that they are horizontal.
    • Left side stretch diagonally left and forward.
    • Relax L side, extend R side. (practice by starting with arm level, then tilting to left, level the arm again.) R leg out.
    • Key: keep head, upper R body and leg one straight line.
    • Do not break the body line (do not do Latin separation). just "curve" body left.
  • Curve back: We bend back slightly between the 6th and 7th thoracic vertebrae. Think of suspending yourself from sternum, to get the right alignment.
    • Really stretch the front and contract back muscle to curve body back.
  • Spiral Up: It is popular in competitions to also include a slight twist of the spine to the right. (Some older coaches prefer the shoulders squared.)
    • Stretch lady's left side to left and forward, upper body slightly turned to R, relative to hips (do not turn hip, Man doesn't turn, so body contact should be the same, hips should be parallel to Man), which makes' Lady's body to fit in Man's R arm more naturally without Man having to "break the wrist" (curving his hand) in order to hold Lady.
    • Because of the twist, R shoulder will be further away from Man, but leave R arm in front with man and don't pull Man. R shoulder joint is not locked to make arm flat with shoulder.
    • Think about "counter balance": when left arm stretch diagonally forward and left, the muscle connecting L arm and shoulder stretch the opposite way (diagonally "in" and "down")
  • Upper body should be strong, not limp, but flexible and responsive.
  • Head: it is heavy and is a critical element in balancing the body. If the head is too far forward, one will tend to lurch forward on forward movements, and crowd one's partner's space.
    • Stretch the back of the neck, but do not bend/break the neck, do not lean head back. Do not go forward (this is often unconsciously done - no chicken head sticking forward!)
    • Keep head balanced on top of the s pine. Head weight is over ball of feet. Spine is not straight up and down, though. Head follows the line of the spine, 
    • Because the upper body is arching back (from 6th&7th vertebrae), the head should follow that bent back line to create more volume
    • Lady turns her head (do not break neck), look along her (imaginary) watch on left wrist. When there is extra extension, look along left elbow or over the arm. Lady won't be able to see her right hand.
    • The head going left is counter-balanced by the left shoulder going forward (not up)
  • Shoulder and elbow
    • Left shoulder: down and "out" to left and "tucked" under the arm, head "over" arm. Image: think of High Jump and try to not touch the bar.  Do not drop left shoulder.
    • Keep the left side very UP to Man.
    • Both shoulders should be down (which makes arms more "upward" toward man), keep left elbow high as shoulders, keep both elbows "stretch out", shoulder blade squeeze "down and back", make a strong line in the back. Give the forearms to the Man. Arms always forward.
    • One place where shoulders come up easily is outside partner. pay attention there to keep shoulders down, use CBM.
    • Ladies: Keep elbows in front of you.
  • Arms: Keep in front of the body, never let it go behind.
    • Instead of putting arms strictly to the side to make frame wide, think of making it round, holding a big ball in front of you using the arm and body. Keep it that way throughout the figures.
  • Hand: Lady's left hand: make it a line. Dance "at" the man's arm (a little more to front). Hand very lightly on "at" man. Same for R hand. a bit "turned out".
    • Be light on Man's arms: think of dancing holding a cup of water, hold your own arm/weight, body absorbs bounces.
  • Feet and legs: Lady's R leg should be closed to Man's R leg (instead of Man's L leg). Timing is controlled by the feet. If you have control of your feet, you have control of your timing.
  • Counter balance:
    • In order to go more left (left arm), the muscle on left side of the body is crunching sort of diagonally to the right. "counter arms going left", don't move left shoulder away from Man, it should be forward toward Man.
    • To go up, let free the lower body, bent the knees and stretch upper body up.
    • To "bend back" more, counter balance by moving knee, lower body forward.
  • STAY LEFT! - it's easy to slide and get into Man's space especially after a turning figure. Remember to stay left.
  • Extension: many factors involved, not just "bending back"
    • Rotate the spine
    • "High jump" over limbo bar - this is stretching the back, but it should be high above the bar, not at waist level.
    • Collar bone stays back, do not break the neck, just turn head to left more

Man's frame

  • Do not  lift up chin to improve posture, do not break back of neck. Keep head upward with body. Stretch the neck.
  • Stretch chest to get wider bigger frame. Keep R elbow up. (It tends to drop as dance goes on.)
  • The relative positions of all the parts of the leader's body above the waist are maintained throughout the dance.


Connection with partner may move up and down, but in general, try to keep the connection in hips. Ladies: use the hip connection to sense Man's rise and fall.

Depending on partner heights, contact maybe of right thigh to right thigh (you will need to have knees forward and frame extended to make that happen), it could be higher as well.

Lady's feeling: lifting up chest, compressing back. Man feeling the connection coming from under his chest (also lifted) and energy going up. 


The legs are the engine that drive the dance, the body above the waist stays in a fairly fixed (but attractive) position, and goes along for the ride. Movement should not be initiated by leaning the body over.

How to Move Better

  • 3 phases of movement: lower - move - swing
    • We lower to gain speed, move on the slow step, and slow down as we rise and swing.
    • Bend knees, lower and forward, (use supporting leg) to initiate and drive big steps with power.
      • Moving foot should not "prepare" for the step and go before the body. Bigger steps do not mean stepping faster.
      • Bigger step: pushing off the standing leg all the way, so that it's pushing the hips forward.
      • Good idea to increase flexibility in hip flexor - starts each practice swinging a leg forward and back to stretch the hip flexor.
    • Slide each step to gain more inches! for bigger movement.
    • Movement goes in circles; send your weight back (towards your heels) to move forwards; send your weight forwards (towards your toes) to move backwards.
  • Keeping both feet in contact with the ground at all times is required for balance in the swing dances. Without this contact, there is a tendency, particularly when coming out of a rise, to come down abruptly and not smoothly.
    • Always track foot/leg under body, no rondes.
    • Especially when closing foot from side position (e.g. step 3 on Natural Turn), close with toe in contact with floor.
  • Hips: keep hips underneath the body. Hip is "connected" with foot - always perpendicular.
    • Standard dancers should be two people moving as one. This is only possible if the hips can be isolated from, that is, move independently of, the ribs. One needs to be able to point the ribs and the hips in different directions.
  • Shoulder should be flexible for CBM, shaping.
  • The follower should always wait to commit her weight until after the leader commits his. If she commits her weight first, then, in effect, she is leading.
  • Precision in footwork is very important.
    • Most of the times, step in the right direction, point the foot in the direction you are moving, do not turn the foot , you swivel the foot to turn after stepping (except for Tango).
    • Generally, 1/4 rule - the feet can never turn out more than 90 degrees from the standing leg to the moving leg (when there is no pivoting or swiveling in rotation).
    • Always collect foot at end of each figure.
    • Step relative to where you are now, not where you will be. For example, in the Waltz Natural Spin Turn the man's first step is forward, and then after placing his right foot he turns 1/4 to his right. Some might be tempted to turn the body and hips before the step, so that it goes DW against LOD, or the foot is placed turned out, which is not correct.
    • Dragging toe/ball of foot vs. dragging heel - when moving back: (example below is for Lady)
      • If a previous step's footwork is TH (say, in Quickstep, after the 1st step in Forward Lock, which is TH on LF for Lady), that LF is already lowered to heel, after stepping RF back on 2nd step, you will drag the heel of LF on the floor before crossing LF in front of RF.
      • If a previous step's footwork is T (say, in Quickstep, after 3rd step in Progressive Chasse which is T on LF for Lady, the chasse part), LF is on toe when stepping RF back/slightly side on 4th step, when settling on 4th step, you will drag the toe/ball of LF back to collect (not heel of LF).
    • Footwork when moving forward:
      • If previous step is on toe, next step's footwork will be toe lead.
      • If previous step has lowered to heel, next step's footwork is most likely a heel lead when it's a driving step. (There are exceptions.)
    • Feet stay parallel (to avoid collisions and other such problems, no ballet turn out).
    • Feet stay on the floor - don't lift the feet completely off the ground, glide, roll through the feet. Articulate through each step.
  • Think about actions, rather than figures, such as Natural Spin Turn action, or Feather action, as the figures are composed of actions, and the actions should feel similar across the different figures that use them.

3 Planes of Movement

Frontal Plane
  • Spine moving forward, back.
Rotary Plane
  • Practice: head central, arms rotate
Sway Plane
  • leg ahead of body
  • spine doesn't need to be straight up. it is curved block of weight.
  • don't drop on side down

Ranges of Motion

Rotation/turning of the body. For both forward or backwards steps (except for from PP), there is range of motion.

Forward range of motion:
  • When moving forward, body opposite of moving leg moving forward (opposition)
  • Even for linear step, there is still range of motion. More strong range of motion for bigger turns.
Backward range of motion:
  • When stepping back, release hip.The body of side of the leg that is step back will be dancing forward.
  • Rotation is from hip girdle area.

Preparation Step

Example is for Waltz:
  • Normally, preparation step starts from weight on Man's RF and Lady's LF
  • Hesitation to Man's L (1 2 3):
    • Man step to side with LF. Shaping to Left. Slight turn to R.
    • Lady step to side with RF. Stay on inside edge of left foot. Sway your body to right and leave your head behind (increase volume/layout).
    • Slight rise. Keep knees bent.
  • Hesitation to Man's R (1 2):
    • Man: Shaping to Right. Slight turn to L.
    • Keep the big volume/layout, move whole upper body as a unit
    • Stay with bent knees, do not rise, stay low.
  • Step 3 Man stepping forward:
    • Lady: twist upper body to left some more (more CBM), keeping shape till Lady's LF foot passing RF, that's when hips/body becomes flat, before continuing CBM for next step. (For more advanced dancer, this can even be delayed further.)
    • Take a big step (toe on floor first), preparing for very strong powerful first step.
    • Be careful not to steer foot to Man's left, keep this step straight forward, Lady backward.
  • Start with first figure (for example, Natural Spin Turn).

Forward movement

Think about diagonals and how back muscle moves diagonally when walking forward.
  • Start with feet together (after settling), weight on LF.
    • Settle/collect: lady using settling time and sense what Man is leading for next step. If the amount of settling is not matching between Man and Lady, it would cause problems.
  • Initiate the movement by compressing (bending) the knee forward. 
    • Four joints through the leg: hip, knee, ankle, toes. Movement is initiated by compressing the knee.
    • Knees don't just bend "down", it should be "down & forward", moving them forward of the toes, and maintaining proper body alignment, delay lifting the back heel which will make stronger and more powerful movement.
    • Do not initiate movement by leaning forward or backward, which will throw partner off balance.
  • Roll through LF, pushing for bigger steps. Right heel glides on floor. Keep body straight. It comes to a point where weight is evenly balanced between heel of right foot and ball of left foot. Back knee slight flexed. Split weight, do not sit on back foot.
  • Continue rolling forward/push off left foot/leg to transfer weight to a bent right leg. It is only when the foot goes out to its full extent that we stop sliding and transfer weight. Should feel hip flexor working.
  • Use center, press up with the thigh and through the right knee to bring the feet together, front toe will lower as body moves forward. Tighten up the center. Back leg should be straight, dragging toe, then, ball of foot skimming floor until feet are level. 
For toe leads:
  1. With feet together, after pressing up through the knee, continue pressing up through the feet, getting the heels as high up over the balls of the feet as possible.
  2. Step forward with the right foot, landing on the ball of the foot, keeping the heel off the ground.
  3. Bring the left foot to the right foot, and do not let the heel of the right foot touch the ground until the left foot is even with it.

Backward movement

  • Start with feet together, weight on LF.
  • Backward is initiated by bending left knee while maintaining their alignment with the feet.
    • Think of "sitting on chair". This naturally moves the body weight to be centered behind the feet. (Thinking of moving the center of the body, do not start by leaning back head and shoulders.)
    • Keep middle of torso fairly straight, don't lean back (that's heavy.)
  • When bending L knee, extend right leg back, put the tip of the toe down first. Stride, stretch hip flexor, use thigh muscle to really reach back, that will gain a few more inches. Do not break the hips and gap with partner, though. (The follower should show someone behind her the whole sole of her shoe.)
  • Roll down onto ball of the RF, keeping body poised forward.
  • Weight is then equally divided between ball of back foot and heel of front foot, back knee slightly flexed and front knee straight.
  • Tighten up center and pull back the left foot, dragging the heel along the ground.
    • Avoid back-weighted posture: use core to pull back center (belly button), "collect the hips", and do not let upper body fall back, keep weight more forward.
  • Keep the heel of the right foot and the toe of the left foot off the ground until the feet are together. The forward poise of the body is required to keep the heel of the right foot off the ground.
    • The back heel should lower very slowly and with control.
    • Back heel lowers when both feet are together (level).
  • When stepping back (inside of turn), there is no foot rise (NFR).
  • When stepping back with LF, make it slightly to the side, but not changing direction of travel. This is to make room for partners R leg to step in.

Rules for head movement

Four rules of head movement
  1. In Natural turning figures going forward (e.g. 2nd half of Natural Spin Turn, or Closed Impetus), think of extending the nose past the left elbow. This will result in a long stretch from foot to left elbow.
  2. In Natural turning figures going backwards, the body turns first, and the head stays behind (i.e. keep head position and let body turn underneath the head). This will result in a big extension to left.
  3. In Reverse turning figures going backwards, the head starts and leads the turn. Note that the body is not part of it (otherwise, you'll pull the Man and after the turn, the body will be too straight.) Examples: Double Reverse Spin.
  4. When there is body tilt, the body sways and rotates underneath the head, the head stays still. (e.g. Outside Change with Promenade Finish.)
After every extension, the head returns to neutral at the end of a figure, except in rule #4 above, where you are usually going into promenade position. Lady does not maintain constant extension. During extension, lady should not pull the arms and change the frame with Man.

Both Lady and Man should not cross to
each other's spaces. They should keep their heads in their own quadrant. This is particularly important when getting into promenade position - lady needs to stay back behind Man. Though Lady's head turns to look right, the head weight still stays left, always in its own quadrant. Shoulder should stay even and don't tip. At the beginning, the correct positioning may feel weird, crunched, and/or twisted.

Rise and Fall

  • Ladies never "fall down" - they move "across". It's different look and feel.
  • Rise and Fall works "opposite" what one may naturally think.
    • When rising, the feeling is heavier suitcase, shoulder connecting more down. Do not open the ribcage, instead breathe out. Do not push down on partner.
    • When "falling", breath in, "internally" it's going up.
  • 3 types of rises:
    • foot rise: lift heel, which does not necessarily cause overall body rise, it could be absorbed by bending knees.
    • leg rise: from bend knee to straight knee
    • body rise: extension, stretch


Turning Movement & CBM

  • Turn is initiated by CBM. Though upper body is turning, it does mean moving foot will turn out (relative to leg/hip). Sometimes, toes is turned in.
    • CBM on a forward step: the person (either Man or Lady) that does the forward step is on the outside of the turn and travels more.
      • The step itself should be straight on the line.
      • The opposite shoulder would be turning toward the moving foot (remember to keep shoulder level, no dipping). The rotation started from leg, hip, body and then shoulders, twisting up. Aim for shoulder line to be on parallel line to leg, spine keep going forward. 
    • CBM on a back step: the person would be on the inside of a turn.  Hip and feet are "connected" together. When foot turns, hip also turns. Foot is always perpendicular to the hip. Man should always do a straight back step on the line. Lady follows the Man. (If Man does his forward step correctly, Lady would step back straight with CBM.)
      • Generally, CBM on back step is just a straight back step. Though, some coaches prefer to turn the hip (thus feet) a little as well.
      • Lady: open hip to let man through.
  • Give enough room in between legs for partner to step through.
  • When hips turn with body, it's not CBM anymore, so you may be doing CBM less than you think.
  • Windup: Competitive dancers often give the illusion of winding up before a turning figure, to give it more power. The way they achieve this is through underturning their bodies on the preceding figure.
    • For example, in the Natural Pivot Turn in Quickstep, if Man doesn't turn his frame all the way to BLOD on step 3, and  instead, perhaps, between BLOD and BDC, it will have the effect of a windup, without incurring the overhead of leading and following a windup and a turn.
  • "He goes, then she goes" - going through your partner
    • In many turning figures, instead of thinking of going around, the technique will improve if one thinks of going through one's partner.
    • On a Natural Turn, for example, the man steps straight through, stepping toward the lady's right shoulder, while using CBM to make room to get past her.
    • Similarly,  the lady steps straight at the man's right shoulder when she's moving forward, where CBM creates room for her to get past. He goes, then she goes.

Spin and Pivot Turns

On pivot turns, the leader keeps his legs in a line so that, for example, on a Natural Pivot Turn, he ends with his right foot on the same track as his left foot (like he was on a balance beam). This prevents the leader from essentially crashing into the follower's legs as he turns. The follower, on the other hand, always maintains two tracks for the feet on a pivot turn, so that the leader can step between her feet for the next figure.

Spin turns and pivot turns both involve pivoting on a foot bearing weight. It is important that the dancer be balanced over that foot while turning.

The partner on the outside of the turn (the person stepping forward) need to get around (actually "get through" is a better description) their partner without stepping into their space. One might try to imagine shaping away from the turn (See rules for head movement - extend nose pass left elbow) rather than leaning into the turn, or, thinking of our partner as a billiard ball, aim to give a glancing blow, rather than head on.

Heel Turn

Heel Turn can be turning left (e.g. Double Reverse Spin for Lady) or turning right (e.g. Natural Turn in Foxtrot - step 2 for Lady)

Example: Heel Turn to the left
  • Step 1:
    • Start with with weight on LF, left side poised forward, open right side up.
    • Lower, extend R leg,  drive and step straight back (with toes slightly turned in). Start on the ball of stepping foot, then continued on the heel.
      • Right shoulder and side connect down. Anchor right shoulder.
      • Even though, you are turning to left, upper body is rotated to the right side. This helps to stay with your partner.
      • Focus on reaching and stretching forward through the left side and arm. When turning to left, it's left side lead.
      • Do not involve shoulders. Upper body should travel slower than lower body.
      • Head leads the turn.
    • As weight is being transferred to the back foot, pull the front leg in
      • Rise will stop momentum, especially when there are lot of turn (like in Double Reverse Spin), one should not rise much.
      • Lengthen the center, do not lock the knees, keep them soft.
    • The left foot should come straight in to the right foot, dragging the heel, and the right foot should not start turning until the left foot is even with it. The turn should be executed smoothly on the heel of the right foot using the momentum of the left foot coming in.
    • Always turns on the supporting foot.
  • Step 2:
    • The closing foot is kept parallel throughout. When turning, there is no weight on the closing foot. Both knees flexed. 
    • Weight is transferred on to the foot that has closed as turn is completed.
    • On last 1/2 beat "&": After turn is completed, weight is transferred to balls of both feet, do foot rise (using both feet which will make it more stable), both knees flexed to absorb foot rise with knee without changing overall height.
    • Upper body keep rotating to give it more continuous look.
  • Step 3:
    • Push off back foot, the other foot push forward, big step (feet not leaving floor, same forward movement principle).
    • Lady rises as she steps forward, and lowers as she completes the step. The rise and fall should be gradual.
  • Step 4:
Man leading heel turn:
  • Some coaches recommend Man does early (or faster) rise to lead a heel turn - as Man rise early, Lady keeps the leg relatively straight and does heel turn, instead of swinging to back.
  • It is very common for the lady to feel like the man is knocking her over. This is because he is turning his body too soon. Use CBM.
  • If he is pulling her down on the third step, it is because he did not brush his feet and collect his weight before taking his next step.
  • The man has to step around (actually, "through" is more accurate) the lady, before he turns her.

Heel Pull

This is one type of heel turn. Heel Pull is always a right turning figure. Example: Natural Turn in Quickstep (step 5 for Man).
  • The turn to right is made on heel of supporting foot.
  • Moving foot is pulled back and to the side of supporting foot (slightly apart).
  • Heel first, then Inside Edge of foot, then Flat.

Dance Positions

  • Closed Position (Bronze)
    • Leader and Follower face each other, with shoulders parallel
    • Follower is to right of leader, so that leader's right foot may step between followers legs going forward, and followers right foot may step between leaders legs when she steps forward
    • Movement is directly forward or backwards, or directly side to side
  • Promenade Position (Bronze)
    • Shoulders are parallel as in closed position. pick up center/rib cage to partner. 
    • Leader's feet are turned 1/8 to left. Followers feet are turned 1/8 to right
    • Hips will naturally turn to go with feet. Some dancers don't turn hip till #3 in Waltz (in which case, on 2, it is just like close position except heads are turned).
    • Movement is directly to leader's left, along the line made by the shoulders
    • Leader's head faces left, as far as possible, not strained or stiff looking
    • Follower's head faces right, as far as possible, not strained or stiff looking
    • The right point of the leader's hip will be placed in the center of the follower's hips. This may be accomplished from closed position by rotating only the hips and feet 1/8 left by the leader (Lady rotating hips and feet 1/8 to right.)
    • It is important that follower stays "behind" the leader, keep shoulder blades and arms in front, they belong to your partner, do not peel away.
  • Outside Partner Position (OPP) (Bronze)
    • Closed position, but leader steps diagonally left, to the left (from leader's perspective) of the follower's right foot
    • With stepping diagonally, hip is naturally turned to right (rib cage stays parallel to partner)
    • Twisting starts from the knees (keep feet where it needs to go, twist from knee), then thighs, hips to partner and all the way, keep twisting (like the staircase) to body and shoulder.
    • Image is like a tornado, with narrow bottom, and wide top.
    • Can check Outside Partner Position by closing feet, Man and Lady should end up in normal closed position.
  • Wrongside Position (Silver)
    • Like outside partner, but leader steps diagonally right, to the right (from leader's perspective) of the follower's left foot
  • Fallaway (Gold)
    • Promenade position, but moving in the opposite direction.With still pictures, you won't be able to tell if it's Promenade or Fallaway position (except from the direction dress flows).
  • Counter Promenade
    • Like promenade, but feet and head are now pointed to leader's right and follower's left.


It is important to understand the travel direction based on line of dance. When studying patterns, pay attention to each pattern's commencing and ending alignment. Refer to the alignment diagram


Subpages (1): Standard Technique Notes