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Dance glossary - S


A displacement of the feet.


A basic walking pattern.

Shadow position
Both partners face the same general direction, one of them squarely behind or slightly shifted sideways ("in the shadow"). Handholds vary. Variants: sweetheart position, cuddle position.

Shim Sham
A lazy shuffling "soft shoe" step produced by the dancers at the Old Cotton Club in Harlem.

Single Jig
Dancers perform single or soft jigs in soft shoes.

Slip Jig (soft shoes)
Is the most graceful of Irish dances and features light hopping, sliding, skipping and pointing. Only women dance the slip jig. Slip jigs are in 9/8 time.

A Cuban dance similar to the Bolero except that it is wilder in rhythmic accent and more violent in step pattern. It is the Son which first served as a basis for the Mambo which in turn became the triple Mambo, now known as Cha Cha. This slow rhythmic dance was originally in 2/4 time. It became Americanized and is usually played in 4/4 time.

Spot dance
A dance that is generally danced in a restricted area of the dance floor. Examples are rumba, salsa, and east coast swing.

A technique used during turns. The dancer chooses a reference point (such as his or her partner or a distant point along the line of travel) and focuses on it as long as possible. When during the turn it is no longer possible to see it, the head flips as fast as possible to "spot" the reference point again. This technique guides the body during the turn, makes it easier to determine when to stop turning, and helps prevent dizziness.


  • In a strict sense, a step, or a footstep, is a single move of one foot, usually involving full or partial weight transfer to the moving foot. However foot actions, such as tap, kick, etc., are also sometimes called "steps". For example, in a description: "step forward, replace, together" all three actions are steps.
  • In a broader sense, step means dance step, i.e., a dance figure, e.g., basic step, triple step.

Supporting foot
It is also called support foot, a foot which bears the full (or nearly full) weight at the beginning of a step or while the other foot does some action (tap, ronde, etc.).

In dancing, the term has two meanings: The first one is similar to the musical terminology. The second one is making more (and/or different) steps than required by the standard description of a figure, to address more rhythmical nuances of the music. The latter usage is considered incorrect by many dance instructors, but it is still in circulation, a better term lacking.