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Measure (Dance v. Music)

For the purposes of this Dance Dictionary and the dances referred to herein a Dance Measure (AKA: Rhythm Unit) shall be defined to contain either 2 or 3 beats of music, depending on the type of music and dance. A Music Measure shall adhere to its historical definitions with time signatures such as 2/4, 4/4, 3/4, 6/8, etc.

A great deal of music is written with more than '2 or 3 beats per measure.' Much of the music for social dancing such as foxtrot, swing, rumba, etc. is written '4 beats per measure' which is not convenient for writing dance. Therefore, it is more convenient to write dance consistently in either '2 or 3 beat Rhythm Units' (AKA: Dance Measures) rather than musical measures. The following illustrates some of the reasoning behind these decisions.

Webster's New World Dictionary, by Simon &Schuster, 1976 gives one definition of a measure to be, "a rhythmical pattern or unit."

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, by Michael Kennedy, 1980, defines a Measure as, (1) Old Eng. term now adopted in USA and reintroduced into Britain in the 19th century by John Curwen, indicating time-content of notational space between one bar-line and the next, e.g. '2 beats in the bar' "

Elson's Music Dictionary, by Louis C. Elson, 1905 Edition, defines a measure to be, "That division of time by which the air and movement of music are regulated; the space between two bar lines on the staff. The measure is often miscalled a bar, but the terms should not be confused."


Merengue is one of the simplest dances to learn. It is a Latin American dance in which the dancer steps on every beat of the music. It is great for beginners in that it gives them an opportunity to learn how to synchronize movement to music and start learning about important dance techniques such as timing, frame, lead & follow.

Military Turn (AKA: Break Turn)

See Break Turn



Mistakes are part of the learning process.  Much of success is built on a concatenation of failures.  There is an old saying which is "if ya ain't screwin' up, ya ain't doin' nothin'."   Just don't keep making the same mistakes.  People who are afraid of making mistakes usually don't accomplish very much in life.


Movement starts with the CPB. The rest of your body will follow .

Movement Measure/Unit

Refers to the up or down movement of the CPB within a Rhythm Unit. Some examples are: Waltz in which the movement is [Dn Up Up]; in Get Down Swing the movement is [Up Dn Dn]; and in Night Club 2-Step the movement is [Up Dn Up].

Music - Elements Of

Muscle Memory

Learning to dance involves the process developing body motor skills and training Muscle Memory (Cerebellum). That is, we practice things enough times until we can do them automatically, without conscious thought.   Muscle Memory is very easy to train with something new.  However, it is very difficult to retrain.  Therefore, we want to learn correctly in the beginning because it is many times much more difficult to change something we learned wrong than it is to learn it right in the first place.  Many dancers never get beyond the level of mediocrity because they were in too big a hurry to get on to fancy material.  The old saying "practice makes perfect" is incorrect.  What should have been said is "perfect practice makes perfect." Also see: Cerebellum

Musicians Count

This is a straight count used by musicians and some dance instructors. A simplified version leaving out the "e" and the "a" is referred to as the dancer's straight count. Please note the differences between the ways musicians and dancers think. Dancers think before and on the beat. Musicians think on the beat and after. The reason is that dancers have to move before a beat to accomplish a weight change or something else on a beat.


Also see: Rhythm Units, Swing Rhythm


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