Important Latin Dance Vocabulary
By Laurel Goold

Break step: step that changes the direction of the movement

Chase: A figure where one partner pursues the other. Popular in cha cha. A visual “what-you-see-is-what-you-do” lead is used for this figure

Cuban motion: Hip motion resulting from the alternate bending and straightening of the knees

Guapacha (guapacha timing): Usually used in cha cha dancing. The timing changes from the standard 1,2,3,4& to 1,2&3, 4& 1,2&3. No step is taken on the & count between 2 and 3, rather, the step normally taken on count 2 is delayed by ½ beat

Quick: A step or weight change that takes one beat of music

Shimmy: Alternating shoulder movements forward and backward

Shine: Popular in Latin dances such as mambo and cha cha, these are movements where the partners are not physically connected. Often the partners dance similar patterns while disconnected or they act out a piece of music interpretation

Spotting: A technique for keeping oriented and avoiding dizziness during turns. Select a spot; keep looking at it as you turn until you can't any longer; then quickly turn your head so you are looking at it again

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