Each dance begins with basic footwork and advances through beginner, intermediate, & advanced dance levels. Beginner level has limited dance experience and is looking for a solid grounding in the basics with some detailed explanation of the dance character and footwork. Intermediate level has a solid understanding of the dance character and footwork and is expecting the lesson to include more intricate moves and further details on leading and following. Advanced level is well versed in footwork and the character of the dance and has developed their own personality within the dance. The expectation for advanced dancers is usually more difficult moves to intricate amalgamations.
Footwork for each dance follows specific characteristics and timing. For instance: two step is a 6 count dance (or beats) with phrasing to 4/4 music. It is danced in a continuous movement around the dance floor in a counter-clockwise direction. Waltz is also done in a continuous and counter-clockwise direction but danced to 3/4 or 6/4 music. West Coast Swing & East Coast Swing, Night Club, & Cha-Cha are considered stationary dances; and while the couple may move about the dance floor, they usually return near the point on the dance floor where the dance began.
Specifics of Each Dance
Two Step is the signature dance of the country/western dance world and is a fun and lively dance with music ranging from slow to very fast. The simplest counting is quick-quick/slow-slow for a complete basic with each quick requiring 1 beat of music and each slow requiring 2 beats for a total of 6 beats per basic. Variations to the basic can be any combination of quick-quick and/or slow-slow. There are many examples of this combination but one might be 6 quick steps then 2 slow steps to finish the variation.
Waltz is a romantic dance and requires a solid frame. The original counting for waltz was 1 – 2 – 3, 1 – 2 – 3 with 1 being on the heavier downbeats. It has become popular to count waltz as 1 – 2 – 3, 4 – 5 – 6 for a complete basic. The leader’s initial step remains on the strong heavy downbeat of music on the left foot for 1 with the follower stepping to their right foot on the same beat. The right foot for the leader would then begin the second half of the basic to the secondary heavy downbeat of music on 4 with the follower stepping to their left foot.
West Coast Swing (WCS) is done mostly along a line, or connection between the partners consisting of the center rail, left rail, and right rail which is commonly referred to as the “track”. Basic counting for this dance is 1-2, 3&4, 5& 6 with 5&6 being commonly referred to as the anchor step. There is forward and reverse movement on steps 1 through 4, however, 5&6 is usually done in place. There is no formal “closed” position as in other dances, but the dance is often begun in a closed position similar to ECS. This initial position also serves as a pivot point for other moves (such as the whip and its variations). The basic dance progresses generally back and forth along the ‘track”; however, the track is dynamic and can be moved around the dance floor. There should be a playful connection between partners for WCS. It resembles Shag, and music is similar for both dances, however, WCS has its own personality and style.
East Coast Swing (ECS) is considered a “stationary” dance and typically done to more upbeat music than WCS. The dance rotates in a small circular fashion and typically remains near the beginning point throughout the dance. Counting for this dance is 1&2, 3&4, 5-6 which is similar to WCS but the different order of triples and single steps creates a very different look and feel. The basic opening has both partners facing toward each other and slightly angled to each other. This “closed” position can also be used as a move within the dance and is often used as a transition from one move to another. The dance resembles Jive and Jitterbug and is danced to some of the same music as the Jive and Jitterbug, but has its own characteristics and flow.
Cha-Cha is a Latin dance with emphasis on the hip actions of each partner. Opening for this dance is usually done in a closed position with several counting schemes used. While ballroom style Cha-Cha typically begins on 2, country style Cha-Cha begins on 1. Latin Motion is used in this dance which is an up and down movement of the hips and is generated from the action of the knees, footwork, and body angle. To simply shake the hips back and forth does not follow the character of this dance.
Night Club (NC) is also considered a stationary dance. It was previously called Night Club 2, but was being confused with 2 Step, so the name was changed to Night Club. The dance progresses back and forth along a line parallel to the dance couple and crosses this line of dance reversing the relationship of the dancers to the line of dance. The basic dance usually begins along this line, however, in contrast to the other dances, the leader will often make the initial step to their right. This is a romantic dance and sway plays an important role in the character of the dance. The basic step for NC consists of 4 beats made up of 2 quick steps and 1 slow. Music is similar to that of a 2 Step but with a much slower tempo, usually between 60 and 70 beats per minute.