Directional Movement in Partner Dancing

What is directional movement in partner dancing? Let’s begin with what it isn’t. It’s not the LOD (Line of Dance), which is counterclockwise around the room in Ballroom or Smooth (traveling) dances. It’s not room alignment either (using the room to get around the room). In fact, directional movement is the direction your body, legs, and feet are moving. That is, forward, back, to the left side, to the right side, etc. It’s the key to leading or following in partner dancing.

Move Your Body and Your Feet Will Catch You

To begin, ask yourself, “Where are you going?” and “How does my partner know where I want to go?” If you want a great relationship with your ballroom dance partner, pay attention to where one foot is in relation to the other. It’s all about directional movement.

  • Moving forward or back? Notice the legs brushing past each other, each on it’s own track.
  • Side steps move to the left or the right by separating legs while keeping them parallel.
  • Swing your side (shoulder and hip) into the step to move diagonally forward or back.

About Dance Positions and Transmitting Signals

Most ballroom dancers would agree it’s easier to transmit and receive signals about directional movement when there is body contact. However, Latin and Rhythm dances don’t have much full body contact. That’s why we learn and practice leading and following directional movement in all dances.

Here the leader is transmitting signals by moving his body side-to-side.

Frequently Used Dance Positions

  • In Closed Position for Ballroom and Smooth dances, we use body contact. In Latin and Rhythm dances we do not.
  • Promenade Position has the leader rotating his body towards his partner to open her up so they can both take a side step while moving in the same direction.
  • Outside Partner Position essentially uses the same action as promenade position, but the leader takes a forward step as the follower takes a back step. The rotation of the leader’s body allows the follower to step back and keep good dance position.
  • Open Facing Position with a one or two-hand hold indicates an underarm turn or spin is coming up. Watching the leader’s directional movement in open positions helps followers to know where to step and which way to turn.
This picture shows directional movement after dancing into open facing position.
Here’s an example of Open Facing Position with a one-hand hold.

Walking is a basic action in for beginners in Ballroom, Latin, C&W, or any partner dance. Learn how to use walking for directional movement and have more fun dancing now and later.

Here’s a Dance Safari post for partner dancers, “Are You a Bad Follower?.”

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