Glossary N-Z

Partnering — Effort by both the male and female dancers to achieve a harmony of movement. Also known as pas de deux, dance for two.

Paso doble — A moderately fast Spanish bullfighter’s dance. The music, set in march time, is often played at bullfights.

Petit allegro — Quick tempo dance steps characterized by lots of jumps and small movements.

Piqué – Literally “pricked.” A movement in which the strongly pointed toe of the lifted and extended leg sharply lowers to hit the floor then immediately rebounds upward.

Pirouette — A complete turn on one leg, usually going around more than once. The dancer must “spot” in order to avoid becoming disoriented.

Plié — A smooth and continuous bending of the knees.

Pointe — In ballet, dancing that is performed on the tips of the toes. Ballerinas wear special pointe shoes when doing pointe work.

Port de bras – Literally “carriage of the arms.” An exercise for the movement of the arms to different positions, it is considered a simple movement but a dancer works hard to make it seem graceful, poised and seamless.

Quickstep — A very fast and lively Standard dance, comprised of hops, kicks, and skips. Began as a faster version of the foxtrot mixed with the Charleston, with jazz influences.

Retiré – The working leg is raised to the side, turned out, with knee sharply bent so the toe is pointed in front of or behind the supporting knee. Common pose during standard pirouette, intermediate position for other moves.

Rock step — Two weight changes with the feet apart, taken in any direction.

Rond de jambe à terre – Literally, “round of the leg on the ground,” this is an exercise at the barre or in the center in which one leg does a series of circular movements on the ground. Both legs must be kept perfectly straight and all movement must come from the hip, along with the arching and relaxing of the instep. The toe of the working foot does not rise off the ground and does not pass beyond the fourth position front or back.

Rumba — A slow, sensuous romantic Latin dance spotlighting the lady and featuring flirtatious interaction between the partners. Referred to as “the dance of love.”

Samba — The official dance of Brazil, this Latin dance has a tempo of about 100 beats per minute.

Shuffle – A tap step which combines two brushes, one forward and one backward. A faster shuffle can be achieved by making smaller movements that are closer to the body.

Spotting — A periodic whipping of the head, in which a dancer keeps her gaze on a single spot. Dancers “spot” so that they will be able to turn without getting dizzy.

Tango — One of the five “standard” ballroom dances, characterized by sharp head-turns and provocative footwork.

Triple step — A three-step sequence taken on two beats of music, popular in swing and jive.

Triple threat – An entertainment industry term for a performer who is proficient in acting, singing, and dancing.

Variation – A solo dance in ballet. Typically, variations in ballet have traditional choreography, with every dancer dancing the same steps, it is an opportunity for the dancer to demonstrate his or her interpretive skills.

Waltz — The most popular ballroom dance in the world, the waltz has a slow and easy three-count rhythm, and can be danced to music found in nearly all genres.

Viennese Waltz — Fast waltz originated in Austria. The music is fast in tempo and sends the couple swirling around the ballroom.

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