In ballroom dancing, steps are normally described in terms of the placement of
the feet in a specified direction. Thirteen of the most common directional
movements are illustrated in the diagram below. They have been divided into
groups based on their level of complexity: Primary directions (forward, side
and back), diagonals, hybrid diagonals, and CBMP. The solid line indicates the
direction of the moving foot; The dashed line shows the path of the standing
foot in order to illustrate CBMP.
To view a directional movement, hover your mouse pointer over one of the
footprints. Click on the footprints at the center of the diagram to toggle
between movements of the left foot and right foot. Use the check boxes to
select the type of movements shown.
The primary directions require very little explanation. Forward, side, and
back(ward) are movements with which we are all familiar. It should be noted,
however, that forward and backward movements should be distinguished from those
taken "in CBMP" by the fact that they are taken on separate, albeit narrow tracks.
Each foot can move in one of two diagonal directions: Diagonally forward, and
diagonally back. When a step is described as diagonal, it should be taken at
roughly 45 degrees from the alignment of both the body and feet. Because our
bodies are so well acquainted with primary directional movements, it is very
common for novice dancers to turn their feet to point along the diagonal
direction of travel. However, when the toe points in this direction, the step
is no longer described as diagonal. It has simply become a forward (or back)
step taken on a diagonal alignment. A movement only qualifies as "diagonally
forward" or "diagonally back" when the foot and body are turned approximately
1/8 away from the direction of travel.
Hybrid diagonals are those movements which incorporate the phrase "...and
slightly" in their description. The direction is diagonal, but, as the
descriptions imply, only slightly. There are a total of four hybrid diagonals:
(1) Side & slightly forward, (2) Side & slightly back, (3) Forward & slightly
leftward/rightward, and (4) Back and slightly leftward/rightward.
CBMP stands for Contra Body Movement Position. It is the foot position whereby
one foot is placed along or across the track of the other. In the diagram, the
dotted line represents the path of the supporting foot. A step is described as
"Forward or Back in CBMP" when it is placed along the track of the supporting
foot. When placed across the track of the supporting foot, it is described as
"Forward and Across in CBMP".
Non-Directional Foot Positions
Not all steps or foot positions fall under the heading of "directional movements".
The following is a partial list of non-directional foot placements and positions:
One foot closes to the other.
One foot brushes to or toward the other foot.
One foot crosses in front of or behind the other.
A tap, kick, or pointing of the free foot.
"Position Held" (Usually referring to the feet only).