The Six Positions

13 July 2017

Most syllabus Standard dancers are used to dancing in Closed Position and Promenade Positions, but all told there are six positions that you need to know to have a well rounded understanding of Standard. Two of these positions don't appear in the syllabus, but they are all fairly common in Open figures. This post will not only tell you what they are, but also how to get into them (how to get out will always depend on the following figure), and common figures where they are used.

In all the diagrams below, the blue and pink squares represent the Man and Lady's hips, respectively. These do not represent their shoulders, which should remain as parallel to each other as possible, regardless of the position of the hips.

Closed Position (Right to Right)

This is the most fundamental position, and the one you undoubtedly learnt first when starting to dance. The Man and Lady face each other, with the Lady on the Man's right side, and the hips are parallel to each other. It is also called Right to Right, because the Man's right side and the Lady's right side are in contact. This positioning of the hips encompasses another position - Outside Partner. In Outside Partner, the relation between the dancers' hips is exactly the same, the only difference being that the direction of movement is not forward or back, but diagonally forward to the left, or diagonally back to the right, allowing the legs to swing freely.

Close Position is used in most basic steps, including the Waltz Natural Turn, the Tango Reverse Turn, and every figure in traditional Viennese Waltz.

Outside Partner Position is used in the Foxtrot Feather Step, the Quickstep Forward Lock, and the Waltz Outside Spin.

Wing Position (Left to Left)

This position is very difficult for most dancers to learn, especially while maintaining a good frame and topline. Nevertheless, this position shows up in the Syllabus starting at Silver. The Man and the Lady face each other, but with the Lady on the Man's left side, while the hips stay parallel. It is also called Left to Left because the Man's left side and the Lady's left side are in contact. Steps in this position are generally taken in Outside Partner on the Left. To achieve this position, the Man will lead the Lady to slide her hips around the him until she reaches his left side.

Wing Position is used in the Wing and the Closed Wing in Waltz, and in Foxtrot the Hover Cross.

Promenade Position

This is probably the second position you learnt, after Closed Position. In this position, the Man and the Lady's hips are opened to form a V to the Man's Left (Lady's Right). Because of the opening and the offset, the Lady will be slightly behind the Man. To achieve this position, the Man will lead the Lady to roll her hips around his, or he may roll his own hips to the left, depending on the figure. This positioning of the hips encompases another position - Fallaway Position. Fallaway is just Promenade that moves backward, but the positioning of the bodies is exactly the same.

Promenade Position is used in the Waltz Chasse from PP, the Tango Closed Promenade, and the Foxtrot Open Impetus.

Fallaway Position is used in the Waltz Fallaway Reverse Turn Slip Pivot, the Tango Fallaway Promenade, and the Foxtrot Bounce Fallaway with Weave Ending.

Counter Promenade Position

 Of all the positions, this position is used the least, because it is difficult to execute and can easily distort the topline. In this position, the Man and the Lady's hips are opened to form a V to the Man's Right (Lady's Left). Because of the opening and the offset, the Lady will be slightly in front of the Man, and rolled into the crease of his left hip. This position would be exactly the same as Promenade Position if the Man and Lady were to switch roles. To achieve this position, the Man will lead the Lady to roll her hips away from him, or he may roll his own hips around her, depending on the figure. This positioning of the hips encompasses another position - Counter Fallaway Position. Counter Fallaway is just Counter Promenade that moves backward, but the positioning of the bodies is exactly the same.

Counter Promenade Position is not used in the Waltz Left Whisk.

Counter Fallaway Position is used briefly in the Foxtrot Three Fallaways.

Same Foot Lunge Position

This position is named after the popular figure that makes use of it, and it isn't found at all in the Syllabus. The Lady's hips are not parallel, but perpendicular to the Man's, with her facing the Man's left side. Her hips sit on the Man's right side, in the crease of his right hip. To achieve this position, the Man will slip his hips beyond the Lady's, while leading her to turn to her right.

This position is used in the Same Foot Lunge, and the Right Hinge.

Hinge Position

This position is also named after the popular figure that makes use of it, and it is also not found in the Syllabus. The Lady's hips are again perpendicular to the Man's, but with her facing the Man's right side. Her hips sit on the Man's left side, in the crease of his left hip. To achieve this position, the Man will lead the Lady to his left side and to turn to her left.

This position is used in the Hinge.

There are from time to time other extreme positions advanced dancers will use, but these six are the fundamentals. Practicing them can lead to better partner awareness and a more flowing lead and follow.