Direction and Alignment, Part 1, Direction – by Chris Bruce

Chris and his wife Monika at a Dancesport competition.

Direction and Alignment, Part 1, Direction

W. Bkg LOD. Fcg DC ag LOD. Has the cat been walking across my keyboard again?

No, not on this occasion. Using a combination of ‘dance jargon’ and abbreviations I’ve been documenting a ballroom routine, and these 'hieroglyphics' record the direction and alignment of each step.

Let’s take a step back (pun intended!).

Firstly, what is a direction (in the ballroom sense)?

The best definition I can find is in The Technique of Ballroom Dancing by Guy Howard, and says:

    “Direction is the movement of the foot in relation to the room.”

If you’re familiar with a compass for navigation in the outside world, ballroom directions should come easily. With a compass our four cardinal directions are N(orth), S(outh), E(ast) and W(est) as shown.

In the ballroom, the equivalents are Along Line of Dance (LOD) or just LOD, Against LOD, W(all), and C(entre).

Note that the four ordinal directions of the magnetic compass (NE, NW, SE, SW) also have their equivalents in the ballroom. NE and NW become Diagonal to Wall (DW) and Diagonal to Centre (DC). SE and SW become Diagonal to Wall against Line of Dance (DW against LOD) and Diagonal to Centre against Line of Dance (DC against LOD).

In the following diagram, the direction of the three steps is (from left to right) Against LOD, DW, and Along LOD.

Note that direction has nothing to do with which way the dancer is facing. In the following diagram the direction of each step is Diagonal to Centre even though the dancer is facing a different way on each occasion.