Couple Dance Positions

By Dick Oakes


Bonnie Wnuk and Dick Oakes - 1959 Couple dance position is a position a couple assumes during a dance.

Mastering proper dance positions is an important part of dance technique.

Couple dance positions of a single dancer may be further detailed into body, head, arm, hand, leg, and foot positions.

Couple dances are dances whose basic choreography involves coordinated dancing of two partners, as opposed to individuals dancing alone or individually in a non-coordinated manner, and as opposed to groups of people dancing simultaneously in a coordinated manner.

Here are but a sample of the couple dance positions used in folk dancing.



Átvetős (Hungarian)
Ptrs face each other with M to W R, M R hand on her L shldr blade, W R hand on M L shldr blade with her arm crossed under his L arm, free arms held loosely at sides. (Danced with either M to L or M to R.)

Back Cross or Back Promenade
Ptrs stand side by side facing in same dir, W to R of M with hands joined in back: M R with W R, M L with W L. M R arm is over W L unless otherwise specified in the dance description.

Baltic or Mazurka
Ptrs face each other, M R arm around W rib cage, W L hand on M R shoulder, M L hand holding the top (back) and fingers of W R hand and placed on M L hip (with hands still joined) in a fist (rather than extended at side).

Banjo or Side Car
Ptrs stand with M R hip next to W L hip, facing the same dir, M R hand holding W R hand at her back, W L hand holding M L hand near the back of his L hip, M R arm over W L arm.

Bolero or Bolero Banjo
Ptrs face each other but with an offset, R hip to R hip, in which both ptrs wrap the right arm around the other's waist; the L arm is up and curved inward.

Bolero Sidecar
Ptrs face each other but with an offset, L hip to L hip, in which both ptrs wrap the right arm around the other's waist; the R arm is up and curved inward.

Butterfly
Ptrs face each other with M slightly to L of W, M L hand holds W R hand out at shldr level, M R hand holds W L hand out at shldr level.

Closed, Ballroom, or Waltz
Ptrs face each other, M R arm around W rib cage with hand at center of back above waist, W L hand on M R shoulder, W R hand in M L and hands held with elbows flexed with only a slight bend in the elbows.

Inside Hands Joined
Ptrs stand side-by-side facing in same dir, W on M R, with inside hands joined and held up at shldr level, free arms held loosely at sides, or are placed on waist or hip as designated in the dance description. Also done reversed.

Courtesy Turn
Ptrs stand side-by-side facing same dir, W to R of M with M R arm around W waist. Joined L hands extended diag fwd to the L; joined R hands held at W right waist.

Cross-back
Ptrs facing in opp dir with R sides adjacent and R elbows linked as R hands reach behind ptr to join with ptrs L hand, inside of elbows touching. May also be done with L sides adjacent with L elbows linked.

Crossed-hand
Ptrs face each other with hands joined across: M R with W R, M L with W L. Dance directions should state which hands are under the others.

Csárdás (Hungarian)
Ptrs face each other, both M arms around W rib cage and holding her shldr blades (with palms holding her or with hands held dn with the fingers and thumb holding her shldr blades), both W hands on M shldrs with her arms resting lightly on his. (Ptrs should not lean back, but pull out from the waist enough to establish solidity.)

Escort
Ptrs face each other, M R hip adjacent to W L hip, M R arm flexed, W L arm tucked behind M R with her hand held loosely on his forearm, free arms held loosely at sides.

Firm Handhold
Ptrs face each with R sides adjacent, M R arm over the W L arm, hands joined palm-to-palm and held snugly, free arms held loosely at sides.

Gyimesi (Hungarian)
Ptrs face each other, shifted slightly so M is is to R of W, M R hand on W L shldr blade, M L hand holding the top of her upper arm or resting on it, W hands softly gripping both of M upper arms.

Half Open
Ptrs face the same dir, W on M R side, bodies turned half toward each other; man's R palm on W back and W L hand at or near M R shldr; free arms loose at sides or may be extended to side. Left Half Open is the opp.

Hambo or Swedish Folk Dance Hold (Swedish)
Ptrs face each other, M R arm around the W waist, M L arm sharply bent and forearm parallel to the floor with palm upward and holding ptrs arm just above the elbow (not just below the shoulder), W L arm holding M upper arm just above the elbow (not just below the shoulder), W R arm nearly straight out from her shldr with her hand holding M upper arm near his elbow. Ptrs should not lean back, but pull out from the waist enough to establish solidity. Also called the Swedish Folk Dance Hold.

Hand Shake
Ptrs face each other, R hands joined at waist level, free hands loose at sides. Left Hand Shake is the opp.

Kedves (Hungarian)
Ptrs stand side-by-side facing same dir, W to R of M and slighly behind him, M fists on his own hips, W L hand on M R shoulder, her R hand on her hip with fingers fwd and thumb back.

Latin Socials
Ptrs face each other, M R arm around W rib cage, W L arm around M R elbow with her hand holding his bicep, W R hand in M L with those hands held high with elbow bent in right angle.

Lithuanian
Ptrs face opp dir with R sides adjacent, M R arm in front of W and R handholding her waist and L handholding W L upper arm, W R hand on M L shldr and L hand holding her skirt.

Mesőség (Hungarian [Transylvania])
Ptrs face each other with R hands on ptrs L arm and L hands around ptrs waist.

Modified Shoulder-Waist
Ptrs stand with R hips adjacent, W L and M R hands joined, palm to palm, and held on W L hip, W R hand on M L shldr, M L hand on W R forearm.

Open or Conversation
Ptrs stand side-by-side facing same dir, W to M R, M R arm extended and holding W R hip (or waist), W L hand on M R shldr with arm in back, free arms held loosely at sides. (Depending on the requirements of the dance, W R hand may be on her R hip with fingers fwd and thumb back. or may hold M R hand at her R hip.)

Peasant
Ptrs face each other, W to the M R side, inside arm around ptrs waist with the W L arm under the M R arm, free arms held loosely at sides.

Polska (Swedish, Norwegian)
Ptrs face each other, both M arms around W rib cage and holding her lower back, both W hands on or near M shldrs with her arms resting lightly on his. (Ptrs should not lean back, but pull out from the waist enough to establish solidity.) Reverse Polska is the opp.

Promenade or Skater's
Ptrs stand side-by-side facing same dir with hands joined in front, M on the L, hips touching, hands are R-to-R and L-to-L with hand-shake hold. (Depending on requirements of the dance, M R arm above W L arm.)

Right Hands Joined
Ptrs face each other with R hands joined across in front of themselves in a handshake hold, free arms held loosely at sides.

Segla (Hungarian)
Ptrs face each other with bodies touching, M arms around partner and touching or overlapped at center of her back, W R arm under M L arm and on his rib cage, W L arm over M R arm and on the back of his L shoulder.

Semi-open
Ptrs stand side-by-side facing the same dir, M inside arm supporting W back, W inside hand on M near shoulder, outside hands are joined fwd.

Shottis (Swedish)
Ptrs stand side-by-side with M R hand holding W L hand fwd at waist level with M grasping her hand from above so that both palms face dnward, free hands held loosely at sides.

Shoulder-Shoulder Blade
Ptrs face each other, M hands on W back just below shoulder blades; W hands on M shldrs, arms fairly straight.

Shoulder-Waist
In closed position, W hands are on or near M shldrs, M arms are around W waist, hands held comfortably on her back, W hands are on or near M's shoulders, M arms are around W's waist, hands held comfortably on her back. In closed position, Partners should not "lean back", but pull out from the waist enough to establish solidity. In open position, ptrs fac LOD, W L hand is on M R shldr, M R hand is on the R, or far side of W waist, ptrs facing in LOD, W L hand is on M R shldr, M R hand on the R, or far side of W waist. Ptrs should not "lean back," but pull out from the waist enough to establish solidity.

Sombrero
Ptrs face opp dir with R hips adjacent, R arms in front of ptr at waist level, and with L arms curved up and inward, L hands above the head (like a hat). Left Sombrero is the opp.

Star
Ptrs side-by-side facing opp dir, R hips adjacent. M holds W R hand in his R hand at about shldr height. M L and W L hand hand loosely at side or are placed on waist or hip as designated in the dance description. Also done reversed.

Swedish Waltz
Ptrs face each other, M R hand at ctr of W back just above waist, M holding W r hand in his L (palm to palm) at about shldr level and elbows slightly bent, W L hand on M R shldr. (Variation: With L hand, M grasp outer edge of W R hand, both hands are palm down.)

Szenyér (Hungarian)
Ptrs face each other, shifted slightly so M is is to R of W, M hand on W L shldr blade with his L hand holding her her upper arm or resting on it, W hands on M shoulders.

Tubarosza (Hungarian)
Ptrs face each other with M toward W L, M L hand holding W R hand low, W L hand on her hip with fingers fwd and thumb back, M R hand at his pocket line with fingers fwd and thumb back.

Two Hands Joined
Ptrs face each other, M L hand holding W R hand (underneath) and R hand holding her L hand (underneath), elbows bent.

Varsouvienne, Varsouvianna, Cape, or Cuddle
Ptrs stand side-by-side facing same dir, W to M R and slightly in front of M, R hands joined over W R shoulder, M R arm behind W head, M L joined with W L in front of M chest. (Depending on the requirements of the dance, the W may be temporarily on the M L side with the L hands joined over the W L shoulder, R arms extended fwd or to R side.)


Copyright © 2014 by Dick Oakes