Ad Lib: Means to
“improvise”. This term was coined by jazz
Axel Turn: An axle turn is
basically two turns in one. It starts with a chainé
turn then without stopping one leg goes to passé
position and the other joins it in a jump before
landing. The arms pull in for the chainé - then for
the axel jump one stays in first position front while
the other opens to second then circles above your head
Ball Change: This is a
change of weight between both feet. Change weight and
do a stamp-stamp.
Barrel Jump: Basically a
jump in the air with both legs bent back from the knee
and both arms in the air in any basic pose.
Barrel turn: A turn with
your arms straight out but one is higher then the
other and as you turn the arms switch heights.
The arms can stay opened or closed during the actual
turning action. The body stays bent forward and the dancer
spots the floor or to the front.
Bounce: Basically a swing
type step or bounce to a step.
Cake Walk: A type of
diagonal walk with each step the foot raises as far up
as to the knee – like an obnoxious type of
exaggerated walk almost with an arched back. This was
developed in the old days back when slavery was still
happening and the black entertainers would do this
walk to imitate the white high society as a parody. So
it was a comical satire that turned into a dance step!
Cat Walk: A type of walk
where one leg smoothly crosses over the other in a tango
like fashion or a “cat like” way with the other
foot bending back from the knee and the other extends
Catch Step: This is a flat
footed ball change.
Chassè: A basic ballet
move that is used in all styles. A chasse is a kind of
gallop where one foot chasses the other. It is a
Coffee Grinder: This is a
turning step that starts with a pirouette fouetté
jump and one leg is bent while the other is in 2nd
position. So do the fouette and a little jump while in
mid turn. Others say this movement is closer to the
ground while the body squats and one leg is bent and
positioned unfer the working leg. Then the straight,
free leg does a floor circle around your body and the
supporting leg hops over the working leg as it is
going – which describes more of a Russian move that
a breakdancing move is now derived from. Both types of
movement are basically called the same thing but the
former is a more typical jazz
Contract: A basic modern
movement used in all styles. This is where the dancer
contracts the mid section and pull back against a
movement for emphasis.
Curve or “arch”: This
is the opposite of a contraction. The mid section
pushes forward and the back arches curving the back.
Dolphin: This is a movement
where the body flows in a snake type movement starting
from the chest moving up. Shakira does this a lot! By
the way, this movement is named several different
things! We can call it the “s” move, the snake etc
Drop and Recover: This is
more of a modern dance step but can be used in jazz as
well. It’s when a dancer has to drop to the floor in
a controlled fall from a position.
Fall: A way for the dancer
to fall to the ground in a graceful and controlled
movement that appears natural.
Fall Over the Log: A step
where the dancer steps out onto one foot while the
other foot lifts and points at the knee of the other.
In ballet terms it would be considered a “piquè
Fan Kick: This is a round
about kick where the body stays aligned but the leg
kicks high in a fan motion starting inward and around
or vice versa.
Figure 8: This movement you
will see in mambo or the like and belly dancing even:
it is when the hips smoothly roll around in the trace
of the figure eight.
Flick: A jazzy and sassy
way of doing a développe enveloppé. Basically the
working leg sneaks up the supporting leg and flicks
out straight ahead.
Flick Kick: Another ballet
move done in a jazzy way which is basically a
développé battement. This is when the working leg
again sneaks up the supporting leg in a passé then
jets out to a high kick in a flicking motion. This is
a very “Fosse” like movement.
Freeze: Just what you think
it means…to freeze a movement! This type of movement
(or lack thereof) is more of an accent on music then a
movement. It gives a moment flare and emphasis in a
Funk: This is more of a
energy then a specific movement that tells the dancer
to get into the music and ride with it or grove with
it in a loose and fun way. Funk is also a rhythm and a
type of music.
Head-roll: Speaks for
itself! A head roll is letting the head move around
it’s entire circular access in a controlled but
relaxed fashion while the body stays aligned and in
position. Head and hand rolls where a very popular
movement Bob Fosse used. He liked small rolling
movements as in his choreography from “Cabaret”.
Hinge: This is when the
body is aligned but it is being tipped from the knees
down with the feet on the ball pushing it forward.
Hip Walk: A basic jazz walk
that jets the hips out in a circular sexy movement
with the arms rounded in back while in pliè.
Hip-fall: This is a
controlled drop to the floor whether on knees or feet
and a slide through till the body is on the floor on
it’s side and one arm is straight out against the
Hip-roll: This is an
isolated roll of the hips while the rest of the body
stays in position.
Hitch Kick: This is like
the famous “Karate Kid” finale kick! You give a
little jump up with one knee in the air, and as soon
as you kit the ground the other leg whips into a high
kick. The former move is a preparation for the high
Hop: This is a jump off of
one foot that lands on the same foot. Like in hop
Jazz Drag: This is a jazz
walk or hip walk with a drag in it. Sort of a dragging
Jazz Run: A running jazz
walk! This requires a fluidity and grace to make it
look natural and not awkward.
Jazz Split: This is a split
on the floor with the back leg bent upward from the
knee. Sometimes the knee can be grabbed or the head
can be arched back towards it.
Jazz Square: This is a smooth four step
movement, example: step out on your right leg, step
back with your left, cross over with your right leg
and step forward with your left. A full square
movement in a sassy jazzy motion.
Jazz Walk: A low gravity type of walk where the
body is in pliè and the shoulders and arms are curved
in opposition while walking forward. This is without a
hip roll. The Hip walk is the same but with a hip
Jump Over the Log: This is a jump from one leg
to the other that is a little more grand but not big
enough to make a flying leap. It’s a control leap
from one leg to the other. In jazz a slick and catlike
form must be kept for the movement to “gel”.
Kick: This is a high kick that throws the
working leg in the air in a controlled manner, while
the supporting leg and body stay properly aligned in
the jazz position of choice.
Knee Fall: This requires knee pads! It’s a
fall onto the knees which usually preludes another
move and lands as a “punch” in the choreography.
Knee Slide: This is a very “rock n roll”
move! It requires knee pads as well so you can slide
across the floor on your knees without floor burn
Knee Turn: A 360 degree turn or the like but on
both knees or one knee (usually two).
Lay Out: This is the jazz moves of all jazz
moves. The layout is a difficult one to master for
some. The body must be flexible to kick out and
within’ the kick the body will lean into it with the
leg still high, and the entire torso will follow it
until it’s parallel with the floor and the arms
follow behind (or above) it.
The most extreme jazz layout ever!
Limbo: We’ve all done or seen the limbo!
Basically walking in a hinge and sometimes adding a
shimmie to the shoulders.
Mess Around: This is a static turn that starts
with one leg that crosses over the other and brings
the body around in a 360 degree two legged turn (in
ballet it’s called a soutenu). The head sometimes
roll as do the hips and the arms are straight out in
opposition like an “airplane” move.
Moonwalk: Michael Jackson originated this
Pencil Turn: This is a spin on both feet where
the body is straight and the body spins a few times
Pitch: Often the position is a deep arabesque
with the playing leg up in the sky and the chest
towards the floor hitting the standing led. It's a
very dynamic movement often done after a pirouette
(turn + pitch).
Pivot Step: This is a step forward (or in any
direction) with a pivot right after.
Primitive Squat: This is a hop forward into a
deep 2nd position (see ballet terms) pliè. But in
jazz, you won’t be required to be turned out as much
(whew)! This is to make the move more sassy then
classical…as is jazz ;)
Release:The opposite of contract. A release is
only done after the contraction. It is a “letting
go” of whatever forced movement or pose your body
Ripple: A snake movement which starts at the
pelvis and works it’s way up to the torso and moves
in either direction one after the other. The actual
“snake” starts from the head though – this
differs cause it starts (again) from the pelvis.
Shimmie: This movement is done from the
shoulders. One shoulder moves forward while the other
moves back and is done really fast in a shake. This
movement is also a type of “breast” shaking
movement in burlesque dancing (just so you get the
Shiver: This is a controlled tremble throughout
the entire body. The small muscles must contract and
tighten so they twitch very quickly.
Shoulder Fall: This movement started from
Martha Graham and her series of “controlled
falls”. Basically the dancer arches back almost into
a backbend but pushes the body out when it would
otherwise backbend or hit the ground so the body
slides back leaving you on the ground flat on your
Shoulder Roll: An isolation movement of the
shoulders. A shoulder roll!
Sissonne Fall: A controlled side fall after
doing a “sisonne” which is a sissor like kick out
to the side where you push out on two feet while the
body flies sideways and one leg kicks up higher then
the other. Then after you fall out to the side in a
controlled manner with one arm being out flat against
the ground as your hip and one same side leg will be.
Skate: This is a skating movement like a
speedway skater. The leg pushes in then pulls out side
forward then the other leg does the same.
Snake: Think “80s” – think “Paula
Abdul” – the snake is an S movement starting from
the head and curving the body sideways in a smooth and
slinky movement all the way throughout the body and
going to the other side in a seamless way.
Snap: A finger snap – like in West Side
Story! Oh so jazzy…
Spins: Continuous moving turns (a.k.a. chainès).
Spiral: The spiral is a turn that turns the
spine around in separate order. The top will be around
faster then the bottom of your body or vice versa.
Stag Leap: This is a high leap or jump in a
split but with the front leg bent from the knee
Step: Step…need I say more?
Switch: This is a way to switch the working
leg. Moving the working leg back so that the other leg
is now free for the next movement.
Table top: 2nd parallel with a straight back
tilting flat (like a table).
Tilt: High développé in a 2nd position with
the body tilting to the opposite direction.
Touch: This is touching your pointed foot to
the floor with a quiet energy.
Tripplettes: Diagonal walking at ¾ tempo
(originated from Graham).
Turns: Turning on the beat.
Twists: Pivoting from one foot to the other.
Worm: Dolphin going backwards with steps or