Jazz Dance

Phyllis Eckler - Instructor

General Vocabulary

* Choreographer: A person who composes a dance

* Choreography: A dance composition

* Downbeat: An accented beat which begins a musical measure

* Downstage (Dwnst): Toward the front of the stage or room

* Floor pattern: A path followed during a movement combination

* Line of dance (LOD): For locomotor movement, moving or facing in a forward path

* Lyrical: Smooth, sustained movement

* Stage left (St. L.): The left side of the stage or room as one faces the audience or front

* Stage right (St. R.): The right side of the stage or room as one faces the audience or front

* Synchopated: a temporary displacement of the regular accent in music caused by stressing the upbeat

*Upstage (Upst.): Toward the back of the stage or room

* Where You Came From (WYCF): Opposite of Line of dance (see above). The moving  or facing the direction from which you started.

*Upbeat: the unaccented mid-point between beats


* Contraction: Position or movement in which the center of the torso retreats

* First position parallel (1st pll): Feet about 8" apart with toes facing front

* First position turned out (1st TO): Heels together, toes facing the diagonal ("letter V")

* First position arms (Arms in 1st): Hands on the chest, elbows out to the sides

* Fifth position arms (Arms in 5th): Both arms straight up in a V

* Flexed: Feet and toes are retracted back and heels are pressed forward

* Forced arch: on ball of the foot with heel off the floor and knee bent

* Fourth position parallel (4th pll): Standing with one foot in front of the hips and one behind the hips with @ 10" between them . Toes facing the front

* Fourth position turned out (4th TO): Standing with one foot in front of the hips and one behind the hips with @ 10" between them with toes facing the diagonal

* Fourth position arms (Arms in 4th): One straight arm up and one arm to the side (the "up" arm determines if it is a right or left 4th position)

* Lunge: Position in either 2nd or 4th where only one knee is bent and the other straight

* On the walk: Starting position for locomotor movement. Back foot is lightly resting on the ball of the foot

* Parallel (pll): Stance where toes face forward

* Pli: A knee bend with careful alignment of the knees and torso

* Point: Feet are fully extended forward from the ankles

*Pretzel: A sitting position where one leg is crossed over the other and the bottom one is tucked in bent

* Relev: A lift onto the toes

* Retir or pass parallel: Position in which the toe of one leg touches the knee of the standing leg, knee cap faces forward

* Retir or pass turned out: Position in which the toe of one leg touches the knee of the standing leg, knee cap faces side

* Second position parallel (2nd pll): Feet side by side @ 24" apart, toes face forward

*Second position turned out (2nd TO): Feet side by side @ 24" apart, toes face the corners

*Second position arms (Arms in 2nd): Arms to the side at just below shoulder height

* Standing leg: The weight bearing leg

* Third position arms (Arms in 3rd): One arm extended in front of the chest and one arm to the side  (the "front" arm determines if it is a right or left 3rd position)

* Turnout (TO): The outward rotation of the feet and legs from the hips. Toes to the diagonal.

* Working leg: The non-load bearing leg


*Ball Change: Syncopated weight shift onto the ball of the rear foot and back to the flat front foot

(Can be done as a travelling step)

* Chass: Step together step

*Cut: Quick displacement of one standing leg by the other while remaining on the same spot

*Fan kick: A kick in which the working leg makes a sweeping arc in front of the body

*Fondue: A bending of one's standing leg all the way into plie

*Grapevine: A series of steps that move sideways with a side, back, side, front pattern

*Hitchkick: A scissor-like movement where one leg is in the air while the other leg kicks up to pass it

*Isolations: Movement of only one part of the body

*Jazz walk: Many varieties but generally a turned out low walk using shoulder opposition

*Jazz pas de bourree (Jazz PDB): A back-side-front three step move in the floor pattern of an isosceles triangle

*Jazz square: A crossed front-back-back-front four step move in the floor pattern of a square

*Mambo: A front/back, back/front step with hips swiveling in a figure 8

* Piqu: A step onto half toe with a straight leg from a plie standing leg

* Relev: A lift onto the toes

*Step: Transferring weight fully onto a foot

*Touch: A placement of the working toe or foot on the floor without shifting weight to it


* Chains: Consecutive half turns traveling and rotating in a single direction

* Inside turn: forwards turn; A turn toward the standing leg

* Outside turn: Backwards turn; A turn away from the standing leg

*Paddle turn: Several small pivot turns that take one 360 degrees

*Pencil turn: Pirouette with both legs straight

* Piqu turn: Inside turn which begins with a step onto half-toe with an already straight leg

* Pirouette: Turn on one leg that begins in plie and goes to releve from a plie

* Pivot turn: Half-Turn on two legs with weight transfer from one leg to the other ; Feet stay stationary but swivel

* Soutenu: Full-Turn on two legs which begins with legs crossed, legs unwind and wind up crossed the other way; Feet stay on the same spot but swivel

* Spotting: Focusing on one spot while turning to prevent dizziness


* Chass: Step one foot, together in the air, land on the other foot; A gallop or slide

* Hitchkick: Kicking one leg in the air while it is up there jumping off the other one to join it to the first and landing on the first leg

* Hop: Taking off from one foot and landing on the same one

* Jump: Taking off of two feet and landing on two feet

* Leap: A jump from one foot to the other foot usually with an opening of the legs in the air

* Skip: Alternating hops from one to the other or with steps in between