Registration is open for ’24-’25 Dance YearSummer Camps & Classes as well.

Dance Terms Every Beginner Should Know

Speak Fluent Dancer

Have you ever been to a dance class and heard the instructor say, “it’s a ball change,” or “we are going to mark it,” or “now we are going full out?” Did you stand there like a deer in headlights or did you quickly look around the room to see if any one else understood these crazy terms the instructor was throwing at you? It can make you feel like the instructors are speaking another language, and truthfully they kind of are. So if you want to be able to speak “dance” then there are some basic terms that you should learn. Here is a list of common terms that will help you become fluent in dance!

8 count

This is how we break down and count music. Most dances are choreographed to 8 counts at a time, or two 4-count measures back to back.

Ball Change

A 2-step move where you transfer the weight of one foot behind or by the other foot. You’re basically just stepping twice.


When you isolate one part of your body without moving any other parts.


When you hold a move/pose and continue to not move during a count.


Marking allows you to go over the movement or choreography without having to go full out/ perform it to the best of your ability. It’s a way of allowing yourself to get familiar and remember all the choreography needed to complete the dance performance.

Full Out

Full Out is the opposite of Marking. Full out means you are giving it your all, you are fully performing the piece of choreography you have been taught, and using 100% of your energy.


Transitions, as the name suggests, you are transitioning from one section to another. This is usually done in longer pieces of choreography where you move from one side of the “stage” or studio to the other.

Cleaning Up

Cleaning is another way of making sure you are doing each movement accordingly and accurately. When your dance teacher says “we need to clean up that section,” what they mean is that section is looking a little rough. The instructor will usually ask that you go over that section of the routine again to make sure it looks clean and everyone has it down.


The speed of the music. As you’re learning a piece, the choreographer will teach in slow tempo, then speed it up to medium, and finally “tempo” – AKA the real-time speed of the song.

Working Leg/ Supporting Leg

Your working leg can refer to the leg that is going to be lifted/ moving around, while your supporting leg is the one that is firm on the ground and not moving therefore supporting all of your weight.


Meaning the bending of the knees. A plié consists of a movement in which the dancer bends their knees and straightens them again.


Freestyle is another way of saying improvise! Freestyling allows the dancer to do anything they want to.

Switching Lines

When a class rotates from the front to back and vice versa to give everyone a chance to be in the front.

Texture/ Flavor

Oftentimes when a teacher or choreographer is saying add texture or flavor, they are implying they want you to add your own individuality to the dance piece, or to add some pizzazz to the movement.


This is when the class is divided into smaller sections, and each group will take turns performing the piece as the other students watch.

Want to Read More About Dance?

Take a look at some of our other articles about dance.

So why Nan’s school of dance?

We offer instruction in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Acro, and Pre-Dance, at all levels. We love having new members in our dance classes. We will help get your child acclimated to our dance school and make them feel right at home. When your child attends Nan’s School of Dance in Raleigh, they will become a part of our dance family and share in our love for dance!

Don’t forget to register!

From ballet to hip hop, we offer dance classes for ALL ages and skill levels in a variety of styles. We place students in classes that will challenge them while offering a fun atmosphere for learning and growth. We also offer Mommy & Me classes, (18 months – 2.5 years). Register online or give us a call at 919-803-6044 to hold your spot!

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