Basic Dance Steps

Tamara Warta
Dancer stepping

Basic dance steps can help anyone become more graceful and agile. For some, taking a basic dance class is the foundation of a newfound hobby, while others prefer to dance at a novice level for the exercise. Whatever the reason, beginning dance steps are simple to learn and will get your body moving.

Things to Remember

Before learning any basic dance steps, remember to warm up your body by stretching. Even simple steps can cause sore muscles and injury in a body not accustomed to a regular dance practice. If possible, learn your moves in a class taught by a professional dance instructor. This will reduce your risk of injury, and also ensure you learn the steps properly. If a studio class is not an option, then use an instructional DVD or online video that clearly explains what to do. Make sure your rehearsal space is free of heavy or breakable objects, providing you with enough room for free movement. Even simple dance steps take some time to master, so be patient with yourself during the learning process.

Basic Dance Steps

Taken from a wide variety of dance genres, the basic moves below will get you started on your journey as a novice dancer. This list will also benefit experienced dancers looking for a refresher course before teaching an introductory class of any style.

Ball Change

The ball change is found in most dance disciplines, including jazz, tap, lyrical and hip hop. Due to its crossover appeal, it's usually one of the first steps taught to new dancers. The ball change is completed in two counts - transferring weight onto the ball of the foot (1), then a step back onto the other foot (2). This step is usually connected to another step, such as the "kick ball change" movement. Customarily, the weight is transferred to a foot that is placed behind the other, though it can also be crossed or in front.

Chaîné Turns

Chaîné turns are an introductory quick turn used in ballet and lyrical dance, though they sometimes although found in other styles. The name comes from the French, meaning "chain." Chaînés are simply a chain of rapid turns on alternating feet. Starting in first position, the turns progress either across the floor in a straight line, or in a circle.


The dos-y-dos, used in square dancing, involves two dancers facing each other. Next, they walk around each other in a circular rotation without turning. To complete a correct dos-y-dos, each dancer should face the same wall the entire time, ensuring there is a rotation rather than an actual turn.


Facing front, the dancer steps his right foot out to the side, and crosses in front with the left. The right foot then steps out again, followed by the left foot crossing behind. Repeat. The grapevine is used in jazz dance, as well as country line dancing.

Heel Turn

In ballroom dance, the heel turn involves turning on the heel of the supporting foot, while the other foot stays parallel. As the turn completes a full rotation, the weight is placed onto the other foot.


In ballet, the rond consists of a pointed toe on a straight leg (or bent at the knee) drawing a semicircle on the floor or in the air. This can also be found in ballroom dance.

Online Resources

If you choose to learn basic dance moves online, there are many quality websites that will teach you effectively. provides you with both text and video clips, allowing you to process information in whichever way is easiest. Dance Times has a glossary of line-dance terminology, while the American Ballet Theatre presents an extensive ballet dictionary.

Whether learning at home or in the studio, dance is a rewarding pastime you're sure to enjoy after you've mastered a few of the basics.

Was this page useful?
Basic Dance Steps