There are many ways to describe foot positioning. Some methods involve describing the angle or position of a single foot, while others describe the positions or angles of the feet relative to each other. This will give you a basic understanding of the most common methods for describing the various positions of the feet.

The basic method is to refer to one of five basic foot positions:

1ST - Feet are together, directly under the body

2ND - Feet apart, side by side

3RD - Feet together, heel to instep

4TH - Feet apart one in front of the other

5TH - Feet together, one foot in front of the other, toe to heel

Turning Out is when the feet turn outward to an angle, so that the toes point away from each other. The angle that results between the feet is known as the degree of turnout. When the feet are held without any turnout, they are referred to as parallel.

Turnout in the Latin and Rhythm dances is recommended. The desirable amount of turnout is between a minimum of45 and and maximum of 90 degrees. Ballet dancers strive to achieve turnout through the rotation of the legs so that the knees always point to the same angle as the toes. Latin dancers, on the other hand, will allow the feet to turn out at the ankles; the knees, when bent, point straight forward (or even roll slightly inward) in spite of the turned-out angle of the feet.

The rolling of the foot toward the inside or outside edge is known as pronation and supination, respectively. It is very important to become aware of these positions, even if you don't remember their names.

The pronated position (weight on the inside edge) is used quite frequently in the Latin and Rhythm dancing. When the body weight is held over the outside edge, the foot has rolled out into a supinated position A supinated position is undesirable, and should be avoided at all times.

You'll also find that supination of the foot tends to promote a "turning in" of the feet, rather than the desired "turning out".


Twinkles & Grapevines!

Waltz Exercise

Stand with your feet together, toes pointing forward, and knees slightly bent.. Picture yourself in front of a clothesline. Rise and fall is the ability to go underneath it without ducking or bending at the waist. stepping forward with your left foot, bend your knees to clear the clothesline; but you've got to keep your back and neck straight!. You are now beyond the clothesline, so you can straighten your knees and step with your right foot to the side and draw your feet together on “3.” Do this several times, in order to get the feel of it.


The general rule is, in Ballroom, Standard or Smooth (whichever you call it), forward moving steps for either Ladies or Gentlemen should be heel leads.

But how to do a large step on the heel lead without my heels sliding out from under me? Easy! Keep your body weight over top of your foot, rather than behind it. The best way to do this is to have a slight bend in the knee that is traveling forward, and push off with the foot that is behind.

The Gentlemen's steps for example, would see the man having both knees slightly bent, the left foot moving forward, and the right right leg pushing the body into the step. If you keep your left knee slightly bent, you will land with the heel underneath your body, and no sliding. Same for ladies!

To learn more in person, visit


Recently, two friends of ours just got married, and I was reminded of the poem that was read at our wedding. I'd like to share that with you. Enjoy.

A Gift from the Sea: Anne Morrow Lind burg

A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built upon some of the same principles.

The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern.

Intricate, but swift and free like birds on the wing.

To touch heavily would be to disturb the pattern and freeze the moment, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding.

There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm or the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing.

Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back- it does not matter which.

They know that they are being invisibly nourished by it. It is joy of creation, the joy of participation, and the joy of living for the moment.

It is the private place where love is pleased to dwell.


If any of you have ever tried to learn how to drive a car with a manual transmission, or been in a car where the driver has "popped the clutch"? I'm sure you are familiar with the feeling. You know, that abrupt acceleration, pushing your head back, making you nauseous!

Well, on the dance floor, we want to avoid that as well. The easiest way to avoid an abrupt start is to ease into it; when you begin your steps, the gentlemen should initiate the movement BEFORE the beat actually happens.

In other words, initiate the movement with a slight lean, just before the "1" beat occurs. Adjust the size of the lean according to the size of the step you want to take - bigger lean, bigger step, smaller lean, smaller step.

Ladies will learn to recognize this instinctively, and respond appropriately to your leads.



Why is it called rise and fall? It should be called "Fall and Rise"! When you try to add rise and fall to smooth dances, like the Waltz or Foxtrot, you need to remember that it's the difference in your height that makes it appear so elegant.

What I mean is, without any "falling" the rise doesn't look as dramatic, and vice-versa.

If you begin with your knees locked and straight, and then try to rise up to your toes, the effect will not be as impressive as if you begin with your knees slightly bent (or soft), lower slightly, and then rise up on your toes.

So how do we apply this? Well, in Waltz we'll begin with our knees soft, and lower on the "1". The rise to the toes begins after this, but we need to be careful not rise fully until "3". "2" can be considered a transitional step. There should still be some room for extension up to your toes by the time you get to "3".

Next, lower as you step on the "and 1", returning to your original start position by the "1" has arrived.



Have you ever looked at a picture hanging on your wall? If you haven't (I bet you have), then go do that now. Ask yourself "What is the first I notice about the picture?" Is it the colours? The Shapes? The objects in it? The size?

Whichever you notice at first, I'm willing to bet that it's not the frame!

Look at the picture again, and imagine that the frame has been spray painted lime green, encrusted with cheap costume jewels, and is crooked. This would probably distract from the picture.

If gentlemen picture themselves as the frame, and the lady the picture, this shows clearly how to approach ballroom dancing. If the frame is overbearing, it distracts from the picture. The frame must be strong and solid, without being overbearing (or tacky!).

Guys, you're objective on the dance floor is to make the lady you're dancing with feel like she is the most beautiful one in the room. The more you do that, the more she will want to dance with you.

Lead her confidently, but don't lead her into steps that you KNOW she doesn't know, just to show off how many intricate steps you know - this will make her feel foolish, and will make it less likely that she will want to dance with you.

Ladies, imagine your gentleman sweeping you off your feet, knowing that he won't run you into a wall, or other couples, or make you look foolish on the floor - that's a great feeling., isn't it? In order for him to do that , you must not back lead; the more you back lead, the less he will lead. The more you let him lead, the more he will lead.

Take this philosophy onto the dance floor, and you both will enjoy dancing together more and more. or, if you're single, you will be the type of lady the every guy wants to dance with, or the gentlemen that the ladies fantasize about being with on the dance floor.
To learn more about dancing and leading and following , visit

Twinkles & Grapevines!