Dance Movement

How to Move Better

In any dance, learn about all the actions and basic movements, which are the foundation that makes up all the steps. 

The legs are the engine that drive the dance, the body above the waist stays in a fairly fixed (but attractive, not stiff) position, and goes along for the ride. 

Swing dances: wind up, drive, follow through and release. (Drive swing collect; Drive release, rewind)

Propulsion: using the floor, push

3 phases of movement: lower (drive) - swing - collect and then drive again.

Perception of balance

People may perceive balance in different ways: "crossed way" "parallel way". With feet apart:

Over balance:

Movement Actions

When are at top of ball/toes, going into a lowering and driving action: (this doesn't apply to Foxtrot Natural Weave - in which the heel doesn't lower, body is flat. This does apply to Foxtrot Natural Turn.)

Circular/looping  movement action when we are closing/collecting feet (e.g. Waltz, including chasses).

Chasse action:

3 Planes of Movement

Frontal Plane - the spine

Rotary Plane - the side

Sway Plane - the hips

When dancing, one needs to balance 3 planes. 

3D in Head, Torso and Hips

All parts of body have some movement in the 3 dimensions

Ranges of Motion

Range of motion is rotation/turning of the thighs, hip and torso. This is Man's steering mechanism. For both forward or backwards steps (except for from PP), there is range of motion (may be different amounts).

Forward range of motion:

Backward range of motion:

The person moving back is the person inside of the turn, always curve to the side to make space for the person going forward.

While doing range of motion, make sure to keep blocks of weight lined up, do not lean either forward or back. 

When doing CBMP, the size of the steps are naturally getting smaller. To make it bigger, compress into standing leg more.

Preparation Step

After Man places the Lady, Lady stays in place. Lady will only move when Man uses his hand to invite Lady to move to a new spot.

Breathe and raise energy, have eye contact with partner.

Waltz timing for the example below:

Forward movement 

Example of moving forward with heel lead:

For toe lead:

Backward movement


Rise and Fall

Head movement

Head change should not occur on its own. It's a reaction. It's a response to the change of the vertical, whole body.  Head changes as the vertical changes, e.g. when swaying is happening.  It is reaction to - rise, rotation and change in sway, and it needs to be a good amount of these, not just a little bit, amount matters. sometimes it's just a stretch. Lady should only change her head when she feels she has to.  Head movement should be slower, smoother. 

You are not using head to change the head, you are changing base which changes head. Don't close head using the neck. It will look out of sync and on its own. Let head follow the rotation of the body, and let body follow the rotation/lead of the man, then you'll be in sync.

Both Lady and Man should not cross to each other's spaces. They 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, and/or twisted.

For Lady:

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 (when head and shoulders are more away from Man), lady should not pull the arms, instead lady should extend arms more forward to Man (arms are more straight than normal position).

Shaping and Extension

Swing Dance Exercises

Side step exercise to train the foot to listen to the floor with inside edge of ball, waking up feet and ankles

Practice directly to side, as well as side slightly forward and side slightly back. (diagonally)

Body rise precedes foot rise most of the time with some exception, e.g.  Viennese waltz: just foot rise, no body rise: Tango: foot use is performed independently. 

Waltz Box