Learning how to properly dance ballroom style and perfect the moves requires a good bit of time and practice. However, you may be surprised at just how far you can get by learning a few basic ballroom dance steps. With this guide, you will learn the basic steps of ballroom dancing and find yourself out on the dance floor before you know it!
Ballroom Dance Posture
Before your feet can start learning these ballroom dance steps, it’s important that you first learn the proper posture your body must maintain. This solid frame is what makes ballroom dancing look graceful, effortless, and elegant. To do this, hold your head upright while keeping your chin parallel to the floor. Lengthen your spine by lifting the chest. You should keep a natural curvature to the spine. Be sure not to overcompensate in either direction by tucking your hips in too far or sticking out your rear end. Stand solidly on both feet with your weight placed just forward of center.
Once your posture is perfect, you will want to keep this all in your mind while you hold onto your partner and dance. Lift your arms, making sure the shoulders are high, but not raised. This video demonstrates the proper ballroom dance posture and hold:
Now that your body is ready, it’s time to learn the first of the basic ballroom dance steps. Starting with your feet together, lift one foot and cross it behind the other foot. You want to aim for a 45-degree angle and place the foot about 12 inches behind the other foot. The rhythm for the rock step is “one and two, three and four.” Placing only the ball of your foot down, transfer your weight to your back foot on the count of one, then immediately back to your front foot on the count of “and.” Return your foot to its starting position directly beside your other foot on the beat of two.
For counts three and four, you will follow these same steps, only reversing which foot is in the front and which foot is the one crossing behind. The rock step can also be performed by crossing the foot in front of your leg rather than behind it.
Shifting your weight quickly in the rock step may make you feel off-balance at first, so start slowly and work up your speed as your body grows accustomed to the movement. This is a good tip to apply to any of the ballroom dance steps that you practice!
While the rock step is smooth and balanced, the triple step is performed a bit faster and is characterized by the contrast between quick and slow movements. Although the triple step is also counted “one and two, three and four,” the “one and” and the “three and” are quick, while the “two” and “four” are longer. The triple step can also be counted as “quick quick slow” or “tri-ple step.” The combination of the rhythm and movement makes the triple step feel a bit like skipping.
Starting with your feet together in your ballroom posture, lift your right foot and step forward a short distance on the count of one. Quickly shift your weight back to your left foot on the count of “and,” then immediately shift back forward to the right foot for the count of two. Move your left foot forward on the count of three and repeat the quick rocking motion on “and four.”
The triple step can be used to travel in any direction. Usually the foot moving on the counts of one and three will step in the direction you are traveling. You can also perform the triple step in place, rocking toward the left and right.
Used in both ballroom dancing and aerobic workout videos, the grapevine is one of the ballroom dance steps that you’re probably already familiar with. While one foot continues to step directly out to the side, your other foot crosses over the leg, alternating back and forth.
Examples of Ballroom Dance Steps
You’ll notice these basic ballroom dance steps incorporated into several specific dances, including the foxtrot and swing dancing. Check out the video below to see how the steps are used within the foxtrot:
By layering arm gestures, movements to the musical accents, and slight variations of these ballroom dance steps, you can create a dance that is fun and interesting. And if you’re ready to take your skills up a notch, the best way to improve is to take private lessons with an experienced teacher, who can provide you with feedback and teach you some new steps. Good luck — and have fun!
Photo by liza31337