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Position and Figure Photo Essays —

Here are some photo essays that discuss and illustrate many of our dance positions and some of our basic dance steps and figures, especially those that create a "picture."

Aida—The Aida is a Latin figure, used in Rumba, Cha, and in Bolero. We don't usually think of the Aida as a "picture" figure, but notice that the ending "Aida Position" does include attractive body lines. A photo essay.

Alemana—The Alemana is a two-measure Latin figure. Sometimes it is cued Half Basic to an Alemana Turn. A photo essay.

Around the World—In tandem, woman in front, we bend forward at the hips and then rotate the body in a counter-clockwise circular motion. A photo essay.

Banjo and Sidecar Positions—Banjo and Sidecar are considered to be forms of Closed Position with strong body slice. A photo essay.

Body Investigate—The man extends his arms, palms facing inward on either side of the woman (no touching) and slowly lowers into his knees. It is a kind of "caressing with the eyes." A photo essay.

Caress—A Caress is the soft stroking of the man's cheek or upper body by the woman, a type of woman's "arm work." A photo essay.

Chair—The man and woman lunge forward onto their trail feet and soften into the supporting knees. A photo essay.

Closed Dance Position—In closed position, the man and the woman are facing each other, offset a little to the left, arched back, and looking left. A photo essay.

Contra Check—The man turns his body left face, flexes his knees, and steps forward on his left with strong contra-body action. A photo essay.

Cuddle Dance Position—Cuddle position is a close embrace in which each partner's arms are around the other. A photo essay.

Dance Frame—A key to smooth lead and follow is a stable dance frame and enough tone so that the man can communicate to the woman, and the woman can sense or feel that communication. A photo essay.

Develope—The develope is a raising of the knee and then a straightening of that knee, a controlled kick. A photo essay.

Fence Line—The Fence Line is a Latin figure, used in Cha, Rumba, and Bolero. It is supposed to be a styalized thrust with a fencing sword, the free hands up for balance. A photo essay.

Figurehead—Her pose more or less resembles the wooden female figureheads of ships of old. A photo essay.

Hinge—In a Hinge, the man uses strong left-side stretch and left-face body rotation to move the woman to an L-position at his left side. She crosses her left foot behind her right, changes weight, and both lower on the left, both extending the right leg, she to the front and he to the side. A photo essay.

Lariat—The Lariat is a Latin figure from Rumba and Cha, and it takes two measures. The man will do small Cucarachas in place and keep lead hands high while the woman walks forward in a clockwise circle around him. A photo essay.

Layback—The woman (usually) inclines her body backwards, and she relies on her man to support her. A photo essay.

Layover—The woman (usually) inclines her body forward. She drapes her body against his and allows him to support her weight. A photo essay.

Leg Crawl—The woman steps forward and slowly lifts her trail leg along the man's outer thigh, her toes pointing down. A photo essay.

Leg Over—The woman steps over his extended leg and moves from in front of him to behind or from behind to in front. A photo essay.

L-Position—L-position is a stance in which the man and woman are 90 degrees to one another, like the letter "L." He might be facing wall, and she might be facing line of dance. A photo essay.

  • Search for other books or videos on dance steps and styling:

New Yorker—The New Yorker is a Latin figure, used in Cha, Rumba, Mambo, and Bolero. We turn to side-by-side and lunge through. A photo essay.

Open Dance Positions—In Open Position and other open positions, partners are apart from each other. They are scarcely in a dance "hold." They may not be touching at all. A photo essay.

Oversway—Where the Promenade Sway is a left sway performed in Promenade or Semi-Closed position, the Oversway is right sway in Closed position, usually with a little left rotation. A photo essay.

Pickup—Officially a part of Waltz and Two-Step, the Pickup is widely used to move the woman in just one step from semi-closed position to closed position facing line of dance. A photo essay.

Promenade Sway—A "sway" is an inclination or tilting of the body produced by stretching one side of the body or the other. A Promenade Sway is a left sway performed in Promenade or Semi-Closed position. A photo essay.

Reverse Semi-Closed Position—In reverse semi, the trail shoulders turn just a little outward. Both might be looking toward reverse line of dance. A photo essay.

Right Lunge—The man lowers and then steps side and forward with the trail foot. A photo essay.

Samefoot Lunge—In closed position, the man steps side and slightly forward with the right foot. The woman steps back with her right ("samefoot") well under her body The left legs are straight and extended. A photo essay.

Semi-Closed Position—In semi, the couple opens a little down line, and the man uses a little right side stretch to "open the woman's head," to cause her to look to her right. A photo essay.

Sit—A Sit usually involves a small back step and then a relaxing of the knees and a consequent lowering of the body as if beginning to sit down. A photo essay.

Shadow Dance Positions—The term "shadow" is a rather broad one, refering to any position in which you are both facing the same way, one a little to the left and behind the other. A photo essay.

Steps—A dance consists of a sequence of dance figures, but each figure consists of a sequence of individual steps and actions. A photo essay.

Throwaway Oversway—The Throwaway Oversway is an Oversway in which the woman's left leg slides straight back, first under her body, and then well back to the point where the sole of her left foot is displayed. A photo essay.

Wheel—The Wheel comes from waltz or two-step. In any of a variety of positions, such as banjo, right-right hands, bolero, or sombrero, the couple walks in a clock-wise circle around an imaginary spot between them. Use the time to create a "mini-picture." A photo essay.

Fred Astaire demonstrates dance positions.


Little Used Dance Positions—Some extreme picture figures. A photo essay.


Go beyond this site. Good instructional books and videos, both new and used, are available at low prices from Amazon. Find other references on our Sources and Links pages.

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Page last revised 1/13/09