Welcome to part 2 of my dance terms glossary on dance for singers and actors. Now you’ve managed to build up your dance vocabulary, let’s take a look at some other moves that will most definitely come up. If you haven’t yet read my dance terms glossary part 1, you can check it out here. Some of these are very simple, but as I have witnessed before- some people struggle with them, so I decided to include a few super easy ones as well.
Please note- as in Part 1, I have done my best to label which foot is working eg (l) for left and (r) for right.
Possibly the most basic dance move there is. Why have I included on the list you may ask? Believe it or not, I’ve met quite a few people who could not do it! So I figure, onto the list it goes.
Typically moving from side to side, you step out to one side (r) and then bring your free foot in to a dig position touching the ball of the foot to the floor (l.) Weight however, must remain on your supporting leg (the first leg you stepped on.) You then use the leg that is in the dig to step on the other side to repeat. Etc.
Kick Ball Change
Now this can either be done with a pointed or a flexed foot depending on the style. (For jazz, your foot will be pointed, but for anything more street oriented, it will be flexed.) If you prioritise nothing else on this dance terms glossary, this is the one to learn until you can do it in your sleep, because rest assured it will come up time and time again.
If the working leg of a kick ball change (the one that kicks) is changing from one leg to the other, you will kick the leg to the front (r), bring that same leg in to stand on it (r) and then touch the other leg out to the side (l). It is important that you keep your weight on the supporting leg as you touch to the side, because you will then want that leg free to kick.
Tip- The key is, if you want to change legs, the kick ball changes will end out to the side.
For repeating on the same working leg: if you’re doing kick ball changes on the same leg each time, you will kick (r) and then bring that leg behind you stepping onto it (r) , before then stepping onto your front leg (l).
Technical tip- for kick ball changes, you’re meant to be light on your feet and fast, so keep on the balls of your feet, as this will make it much easier and keep you centred!
Also commonly followed by a ball change, or pas de bouree. Extend the leg out to the side that you are going to step on (r), and then think of stepping beyond it as you transfer your weight onto it (r), extending your other leg pointed out to the side (l.) You should feel your big toe skim the floor. The move is often completed with a ball change crossing the leg behind on the ball and stepping onto it (l) (so your front foot will lift off the floor,) before stepping onto the front foot (r).
The drag can also be used in the form of a drag turn, typically with the leg that’s not turning bent into a low retierre position which skims the floor.
You spring forward onto one leg (r), so that your weight transfers. The free leg (l) then circles round just off the floor coming forwards (think of it like drawing a semi circle) to cross in front of supporting leg as you step onto it, transferring your weight.
Step Ball Change
This is a travelling step which can either be done moving forwards, or from side to side.
To do a forward moving step ball change, step forwards (r) making sure you transfer your weight. Then with your free (l) leg, step backwards onto the ball of your foot, (your right foot will raise into the air as you do this.) Then step forward onto the right foot again.
To do this step to the side, start with feet together. Lift your right foot and on the spot step onto it. Extending your left leg out to the side, step onto the ball of your (l) foot, transferring your weight ( your right leg should lift,) before dropping back onto the right foot again.
Aptly named, as you create the shape of a box. Step forward, crossings that leg (r) over the other in the left direction . Step back with your free leg (l). Next step sideways onto the other leg (r) and then finally cross with your other leg (l) towards the right. Once again, you change feet each time. Short but sweet, this is an easy one to master and have in your dance glossary arsenal.
This is a great step in terms of dance for singers and actors. This turn is typically in four transfers of weight, with one foot anchoring you as you change direction. Each change of direction is 180 degrees (a half turn.) And don’t worry, this move sounds far more complicated from description than it actually is.
To do this kind of turn, step forward (l). (Rather than thinking front directly, I tend to think of being slightly more side on- in 5is are towards the right- with my foot facing the side towards which I’m turning.) When you step to the front, your weight will transfer onto your front leg. As you do this, it is important to keep the toe of your back foot (r) anchored. Next, turning towards your back foot, step onto your free foot (r foot). Take another step towards the back with the same leg you stepped forward on (l) (once again keeping the toe of your back foot anchored) and then turn back towards the front with your free leg once again (r.) You should complete a full turn in one direction.
First becoming popular in the sixties, the pony has made its way into mainstream dance lexicon. The pony is made up of 3 steps. The most common way to do the pony is from side to side so that’s what I will be talking about here. Think of springing or dropping onto your right leg and allowing your knee to bend a little with your left leg lifting up a little, so the emphasis is on the drop. Then with your free left leg, on the ball of your foot step onto the ball, straightening your leg so that your right foot lifts off the floor. You then have the right leg free to drop back onto it again. Repeat to the other side. It should feel a little like a trot.
Step forward crossing your right foot over the left and bending both knees. Point the left foot to the side turned out, so that your heel is presented forward. Repeat on the other side. You can also do this step moving backwards by crossing behind instead of in front.
Most commonly seen in the sequence: flick drop, flick drop, flick drop ball change. (Think final scene of Flashdance) Similar to a flick ball change, to do this, kick the leg (r foot) out in front of you (either pointed or flexed) and then bring it in, dropping onto it (r.) (The weight will primarily stay on the ball of the foot, however the heel may lower quite a bit to give you that feeling of bounce.) To do the sequence, repeat with the left leg, and then once more with the right, before next bringing the free leg (l) to the back so that the ball change goes back, front (r)
Practise Makes Pro
As with most things in life, the key to these is to practise until they become second nature. Even if danceisn’t you’re favourite thing, taking a little time and effort now will pay off in leaps and bounds when you’re able to whack out a 3 point turn followed by a box step, a flick ball change sequence, then a pivot turn with ease. Dance for singers and actors is not always easy, but these basics will stand you in good stead, whichever direction you’d like to go in your career. Everyone learns at a different pace, so go easy on yourself and know that you will get there. As always, if you have any questions, drop me a comment below- I would love to hear from you 🙂