Basic Dance Feet Positions - Dance Foot

A Fun Way to Practice the Connection Points

by: Shawn Trautman

There are five basic foot positions that, if you learn them up front, will prove to be extremely valuable to your learning progression. Sure, you can skip this article and continue on with your day, but understand that if you spend a few minutes here figuring out what the positions are, it will make going through each of the step descriptions for the dances that much easier. It will provide a great visual reference point, or cue, for you to go along with as you learn the basics. In the following sections, each of the five foot positions is broken down, as well as two “extended” foot positions for you to go through.

First

First foot position is essentially having both of your feet together, as the diagram shows. In many dances, the first foot position is considered the ready position because each partner will have weight on one of the feet. (Ladies will have their weight on the left foot, and men will have their weight on their right foot, as discussed in the two rules: Ladies are always right, and men always get what’s left.)


Second

Second foot position is the equivalent of having your feet shoulder-width apart, or in a well-balanced state. It is common to go into a second foot position directly from a first foot position when transitioning from one move to another or just in executing side-steps, such as in slow dancing or in the cha-cha, which you’ll later learn.

Third and Extended Third

Third foot position is best described as “heel to instep.” This is the equivalent of having one of your feet at a slight angle, pointed off of the center of your other foot. Third foot positions and extended third foot positions are used in almost every dance when creating the first step in a turn because they will allow one’s body to create a new direction upon placing weight. Sometimes, the third foot position can also be used as a rock-step in swing, depending on the situation.


Fourth

Fourth foot position is what you would do when walking down the street. It’s what you should naturally go into when passing either foot in front of or behind the other in a straight line (straight forward or straight back). Fourth foot positions are often used in progressive dances, such as two-step and waltz (not the stationary waltz), but can also be used in dances such as the slow dance when simply moving forward and back with one’s partner.


Fifth and Extended Fifth

Fifth foot position is what you are in when you have your toe just behind your heel. (It doesn’t matter which foot is which.) It’s best described as “heel to toe.” Fifth foot positions and extended fifth foot positions are mostly used in swing dancing as the rock-steps because they allow the person to slightly open his or her hips and shoulders to a more dynamic position than just head-on with a partner. Now that you understand these 5 foot positions, any step that you are learning can be broken down into a combination of these, and you will understand exactly how your foot needs to be placed for successful execution of the step or pattern.