Ballroom Dancing Basics – Simple Choreography

Dancing with a partner is a great way to express how we feel about the music we’re moving to.  I find that the give and take of lead and follow creates a safety net for dancers. The leader decides what to do and communicates it to his partner.  The follower commits to working with the leader and learns what each signal means. Teamwork. To be sure, it’s perfect for social dancing. However, if you’re preparing for a performance, you’ll want to have a set routine that goes with your music.  In other words, it’s time for some simple choreography.

simple choreography in a formation performance
Choreography can be danced by a number of couples. It’s called a “formation”.

By the way, if you’re into line dancing, you’re already doing choreography. Check out this Dance Safari post, “Line Dancing and Ballroom Dancing Help Each Other“.

What is the procedure to prepare simple choreography?

First and foremost, pick the song for your dance routine. And, make sure you really like it, because you’ll be hearing it a lot.

Next, decide on the story that you’ll be telling when you dance. Romance is a popular theme for a ballroom dance routine. It could be about how you met your sweetheart, making up after a disagreement, the day he proposed, or your 50th-anniversary dance. You get the picture, just keep it in mind when you’re performing.

Now it’s time to count out the music in beats, bars (or measures), and phrases. The terms bars and measures are pretty much used interchangeably.  Read an explanation of common music time signatures here.

In most cases, the song will have a little intro before it gets into the melody.

When I count the music that I’m using for a performance, I make a little mark on a piece of paper.

choreography needs to be written down
Let’s get that dance routine down on paper.
  • Each mark represents one bar.
  • Usually, at the end of 8 measures, there’s a new phrase and I’ll start a new line of ticks.
  • Another new line will focus on the chorus.
  • Listen for accents and breaks in the music and make a note as to where they occur. This is so you can express them as you’re dancing your choreographed routine.

Let’s use this beautiful Waltz by Anne Murray, “Could I Have This Dance?” to create some simple choreography for a wedding first dance.

We’ll Fit the steps to the phrases.

Once the choreography is done, your instructor will more than likely introduce any patterns that are new to you. This will make it easier for you when you’re learning your routine.

I like to work on combining sections one at a time. By that, I mean we’ll work on the first 8 measures first. Then work on the next 8 measures. Now it’s time to combine the first and second groups and practice transitioning from one to the other. Then, simply add more groups as you go on.

So there you have it, one way to do simple choreography. I hope it’s helpful as you begin to expand your ballroom dance experience.

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  2. ◇ – Diamond Hard – ◇

    ◇ A Lady Can “Lead” a “Dance” if SHE!!! CHOOSES!!! to do so; an Awake and Aware Gentleman is WILLING!!! to “Follow” and be “Led” in The “Dance” by The Goddess in Mutual, Symbiotic InterActions

    ◇ – Diamond Hard – ◇


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