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Dance Terms A-Z


Dancing Terms and Dance Definitions A

À la seconde - A movement with feet to the side or in second position, as in pirouette à la seconde, in which the dancer turns with the working leg à la hauteur (elevated) in second position. An implicit attribute of movements such as tendu, glisse, and grand battement.

À terre - touching the floor.

Abstract dance - A plot less work composed of pure dance movements, although the composition may suggest a mood or subject.

Accent - the dominant beat of the music measure, usually the first beat of the measure.

Adage - Ballet, a slow section of a pas de deux. Dance class exercise focussing on slow, controlled movements that highlight balance and extension, and require strength and poise.

Adagio - Dance class where exercises for balance and sustained movement are performed.

Adagio - Any dance to slow music; also, part of the classical pas de deux in ballet.

In classical ballet the pas de deux (duet) consists of four sections: an opening adagio in which the man supports the woman in turns and balances, followed by a solo variation for each of them, and concluded by a fast coda in which they again dance together.

Ad Lib - to “improvise”.

air, en l' - (ballet) a step done off the ground -- for instance, rond de jambe en l'air.

Alegrias - Spanish Gypsy dance. It suggests the movements of the bullfight and is usually danced by a woman alone.

Allegro - A dance with a fast or moderate tempo. That part of a ballet class comprised of fast turning or jumping, especially beaten steps; usually follows the adagio.

Allemande - Dance originated in Germany in the early 16th century.

Allonge - (ballet) an elongated line; in particular, the horizontal line of an arabesque with one arm stretched front and the other back.

Amalgamation - A combination of two or more patterns or movements.

Amague - a fake

American Rhythm - American style ballroom dances. Cha-cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing, Bolero, Mambo. Also Samba and West Coast Swing.

American Smooth - American style ballroom dances. Waltz, tango, foxtrot and Viennese waltz.

American Style - Ballroom dances developed in the USA that contrasts with the International Style. Includes American Smooth and American Rhythm. See International Style versus American Ballroom Dancing

Animal dances - Bunny Hop (1953), Bunny Hug (1911), Chicken Scratch (1912), Fish (1961), Fox Trot (1914), Grizzly Bear (1912), Turkey Trot (1912).

Arabesque - a position in which the dancer stands on one leg, straight or bent, with the other extended to the back at 90 degrees.

Arch - position in which the whole or upper body is extended, creating the form of an arch.

Argentinean Tango - originated in the West Indies where it was danced only by the lowest classes.

Arkansas Traveler - an old time barn dance depicting a salesman of tin ware who came from Arkansas.

Arm Styling - Positioning and movement of the arms, reflecting the character and style of the dance.

Arrastre - a drag.

Arrière, en - to the back.

Assemble - a jump from one to both feet, usually landing in fifth position.

Assuit - also known as Tulle-bi-telli, is a textile marrying cotton or linen mesh with small strips of metal. Translates roughly as "net with metal".

Attitude - a pose in which one leg is raised in back or in front with knee bent, usually with one arm raised.

Avant, en - to the front.

Axel - tuck jump turning outward leaving and landing on the same foot.