Ballroom Dance Steps

Ballroom dance steps for the beginner may seem complicated initially, but when broken down by style of dance and music they become easier to understand.

The key is to look at each style of dance as a separate entity, and furthermore, within each style of dance, distinguish between the steps taken by the man (typically the “lead”), and the steps taken by the woman (typically the “follow”).

In the following examples we will break down some basic ballroom dance steps by discussing the movement of each foot as it relates to the number of beats that particular step should take.

Select the ballroom dance steps you are interested in learning:

  • Waltz Dance Steps
  • Tango Dance Steps
  • Mambo Dance Steps
  • Cha Cha Dance Steps
  • Foxtrot Dance Steps
  • Ballroom Dance Steps Described

The Waltz

With origins in the seventeenth century, the waltz has withstood the test of time. Derived from the German word Walzen, which means to glide, roll or turn – the waltz has it’s roots in the Viennese ballrooms of the Alpine region of Vienna. The waltz is danced in 3/4 time with the strongest accent on the first beat. It is marked by a pronounced rise and fall, and moves or “glides” is a basic “step, step, close” pattern

The Foxtrot

The Foxtrot was originated by Harry Fox, a Vaudeville performer at the New York Theatre in the summer of 1914. He developed a series of trotting steps to ragtime music that later became known as “Fox’s Trot”. The Foxtrot is similar to a Waltz but the rise and fall is much more subtle. It travels closely around the line of dance in long, smooth walking movements. It is typically danced to a 4/4 time signature with the accents on the first and third beats. The dance steps of the Foxtrot are comprised of a combination of “slow steps” and “quick steps”. The “slow steps” equal two beats of a measure, and the “quick steps” equal one beat of a measure. You can count the beats of a “slow, slow, quick, quick” dance pattern in terms of one and a half measures of music – or six beats. In comparison, a “slow, quick, quick” pattern would equal one measure of music – or four beats.

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