It’s Only Natural – by Chris Bruce

Chris partnering his student Julie during an Award Performance.

"It's Only Natural "


DK Ballroom Instructor Chris Bruce demystifies some Dancesport jargon.


"Almost every activity we engage in has its jargon, its secret language understood only by those ‘in the know’. Ballroom dancing is no exception. If we can learn a little of this ballroom jargon, we can give ourselves a head start in our dancing. 

Let’s take the terms Natural and Reverse as an example. In ballroom dancing terms, Natural means that a figure turns to the right. Examples of Natural figures in the Modern Waltz are the Natural Turn and the Natural Spin Turn. Reverse means that a figure turns to the left. Examples of Reverse figures are the Reverse Turn and the Double Reverse Spin. 

A definitive answer on the origin of these terms seems to be lost in the mists of time. The most popular explanation seems to be that when turning right the person travelling forward will pass their partner on the left side. Since our ballroom hold has us offset to the left of our partner, this is an easier or more ‘natural’ action than turning left. A left turn is simply the ‘reverse’ of this.

How does this help us? Well, if we’re in a lesson and our teacher tells us our next figure is a ‘Natural ____’, we immediately know this figure is going to involve rotation to the right. A ‘Reverse ____’ is going to rotate to the left. 

I’m sometimes asked whether turning left in a Reverse figure, and right in a Natural figure applies equally to the lady as to the man. This is a reasonable question as we experience many ‘opposites’ in dancing such as “gentlemen forward, ladies back” or “gentlemen side right, ladies side left”. However, in rotation, our ballroom hold requires we turn the same way, or we will break that hold."