When first exploring the world of dance, the first thing that the new student notices is the vast variety of skills and movements out there. Dancers of all levels of ability and many different styles are showcasing their moves and patterns in person, on television, or on the internet for all the world to see. So it can be a little difficult knowing just where to begin. Here’s a list of ten different dance moves which anybody can pick up quickly.
This foundational move is used in many styles—and it’s as easy as the name suggests. It’s a step in one direction, a following step by the other foot to catch up, and another step in the same direction by the dominant foot. You can also throw in some variations, like cross-stepping or a little heel kick. This little move is everywhere, something that you will notice right away once you start doing it.
Found everywhere from the club to modern hip hop music videos,the body roll is one of those moves that doesn’t involve a lot of motion so much as it requires control. There’s usually not a lot of exaggerated movement here, it’s more of a cool transition to another, bigger set of steps. A sort of hip-looking change-up and general vibe marker. This move is all torso, with your legs as stabilizers. Simply hold your head up, and start a forward wave motion that leads with your chest and ends down at your hips. Enough practice will make your body rolls look effortless and sleek.
One of the most versatile and cross-genre moves out there, the Grapevine is an essential move for line and folk dancing, but can be found everywhere from jazz to hip hop dancing as well. At its most basic it’s a side-step dance, with the dominant foot being followed up by the other foot first crossing behind it, then meeting together in a little tap. This is an excellent move to build up towards something, or to warm up or cool down when working out a routine.
Coming to us from the wonderful world of hip-hop dance, the shoulder lean is a simple yet indispensable move that allows the dancer to really express the groove. Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-length apart, hold your arms loose down in front of you, and with your hips providing the pivot and your torso giving you stability, lean with your right shoulder towards your right, then lean with your left back towards your left. Or vise-versa. You can throw in some variation by doubling the leans or adding a head bob, but that’s strictly window-dressing on this easy and groovy move. Time your leans with the beat and you’ll be sure to impress.
Have you mastered the two-step yet? Then the step touch is going to be a breeze. Just step in one direction, bring your other foot over to touch the leading foot, and then tag you’re it, the second foot becomes the leading foot and goes back in the other direction. Just keep repeating until as long as you like. Once you get the footwork down, you can start incorporating your shoulder leans, hips, arms, hands, and head into the mix. Easy as 1-2.
This whimsical move comes to us courtesy of a teenager named Russell Horning, aka “The Backpack Kid” who appeared with Katy Perry as one of her background dancers during her performance of her song Swish Swish on Saturday Night Live on May 20th, 2017. During the dance, Horning treated the audience to a simple side to side sway where he swung his arms from side to side, alternating one each going in front and then behind him. The move’s fun, slacker appeal instantly made it a viral success, and it still enjoys popularity as a sort of tongue in cheek, easy-going part of today’s dance lexicon, from the streets to the screens.
Named after ‘80’s rapper Doug E. Fresh, the Dougie is such a ubiquitous move in dance that it has arguably eclipsed its origins in hip hop and exploded into something that is universally popular. Seriously, it should be preserved in the Library of Congress if it isn’t already. Part of its appeal comes from how easy it is to learn, it’s really just a side shimmy with some smooth hand gestures (usually performed up near the head/hairdo). But because it’s such an open-source move, it allows for a ton of variations, giving the Dougie a type of versatility that’s extremely useful. Try it, it’s fun too.
Let’s face it: The 1980’s were just a lot of fun. And the dance move of the 80s are still the base of hip-hop choreography today! With music and dance moves exploding and mutating in the brand new medium of music television, this decade was a powerhouse of innovation and exploration. One enduring move from that era is The Running Man, a street dance whose origins can be traced all the way back to Africa. Think of it as partly an optical illusion, where the dancer mimics forward motion while just sliding in place. The locomotive arm movements really sell the bit, giving the impression of a great kinetic game mime-like artistry. Sort of a cousin to the much harder move The Moonwalk.
Snap and Roll
Here’s another side-to-side move that is often performed with multiple dancers. Like a more relaxed version of the Grapevine, the snap and roll was popularized in the ‘00’s by Soulja Boy, whose laid back, bent limb approach gave the dance just the right amount of swagger, which is then punctuated by snapping one’s fingers at the completion of the set.
Yes, that waltz. The dance that took late-18th century Vienna by storm whose name comes from the German “to roll or revolve,” the waltz originated as a peasant folk dance, and is at its core a lot easier to learn than you would think. Just grab a partner and focus on the “one-two-three, one-two-three” pattern of the 3/4 time signature that is the hallmark of this early couples dance.