Wedding Dance Glossary


Ballad: A poem, usually romantic, which is written in order to be sung. Since poems tend to be quite long and contain many stanzas, a ballad is a fairly long song, usually with many verses which are sung to the same melody.

Ballroom dance: A dance which is performed with a partner. Various styles of ballroom dancing have been popular for centuries but some of the ones which have endured include the Foxtrot, the Cha-Cha, the Mambo, the Waltz, the Rumba and the Tango.

Cha-Cha: A flirtatious and passionate Cuban dance which is performed with synchronised movements to a “1, 2, cha-cha-cha” rhythm.

Contemporary dance: A passionate dance, involving fluid movements, where dancers strive to express their innermost feelings. Contemporary dance combines elements of jazz dance and ballet, and can be performed to almost any style of music. Couples can dance with synchronised movements or may perform individual movements, intermittently embracing one another.

Father-daughter dance: A dance traditionally performed immediately after the bride and groom’s dance, where the bride dances with her father. They may dance alone on the dance floor or at the same time as the groom dances with his mother or the bride’s mother.

Flashmob: A modern dance craze where the dancers secretly practice the routine and then surprise audience members at the reception by spontaneously running onto the dance floor to join the synchronised routine. The dancers usually spring from their seats at seemingly random moments, much to the surprise of unsuspecting spouses and family members.

First dance: The newlyweds’ first dance performed as husband and wife. This dance is danced at the reception, usually after the meal, and may involve various stages where guests and members of the bridal party are invited to join the couple on the dance floor.

Foxtrot: This dance is not traditionally performed to “What does the Fox say?” but if you can find a way to make it work, be my guest! The foxtrot involves two different types of steps – two beats per step for “slows” and one beat per step for “quicks”. This is a great style for beginners to learn as the movements involve long, relatively simple strides across the dance floor.

Hip-hop: An energetic dance style performed to hip-hop music. A couple can perform synchronised movements or may perform using a majority of personalised individual movements. Hip-hop often involves breakdancing moves and can be a fun way to set the mood at your reception.

In-law dances: These dances are not mandatory but some couples like to incorporate them into their first dance. During the in-law dances, the groom dances with his bride’s mother and the bride dances with her groom’s father. Depending on how close the families are, the groom’s mother may dance with the bride’s father at this time too.

Mambo: This is a very sensual, passionate dance and requires a little dance ability so may not be suited to absolute beginners. You may have seen dances on TV where the man drags his partner across the floor, leg extended and then they move into sensual hip sways. You were probably watching the Mambo.

Medley: A song which involves various ‘cuts’ of other songs, to make one customised tune.

Mother-son dance: A relatively modern, although non-compulsory, dance between the groom and his mother. They may dance this dance alone or while the bride is dancing with her father.

Parents’ dances: This term refers to the various dances that may be performed during the first dance, involving the bride and groom’s parents. These dances may be performed between the bride and her father, the groom and his mother, or with their in-laws. They may also involve the parents dancing amongst themselves while the bride and groom dance together.

Rumba: Also known as “The Grandfather of the Latin Dances” and often considered one of the sexiest dances. The Rumba is quite a playful and flirtatious dance often performed to upbeat Cuban music.

Swing: This is a highly energetic style of dance and perhaps best performed on an empty stomach, before the three course dinner is served. There are a few different styles of swing, the most popular including the Jive and the Lindy Hop. Brides may want a costume change, before dancing, if planning to perform twists and flips.

Tango: A sensual South American dance where the couple perform synchronised movements to fairly repetitious music. The Tango is divided into two categories – open embrace or close embrace – and is characterised by dramatic head snaps.

Waltz: Although Waltzing couples seem to glide across the dance floor effortlessly, don’t be fooled! This classic, romantic dance is difficult to perform as the slow tempo, technical body positioning and extravagant rising and falling movements require a lot of strength (and even more practice). If performed well, the Waltz is very graceful and smooth, and makes a very elegant first dance.