Category Archives: How to guide

Key Moves: Ball Changes

These steps may seem simple but they can be tricky when your children are first learning to do them. But they are key to almost all forms of dance so getting them right is important.

They use different parts of the feet, there is the change in weight, there are positions of the legs to consider too. So taking a little time with them will really help their development!

The feet

Making sure that they understand what parts of the feet they need to use is important. There is the flat foot – where the whole foot is in contact with the floor – just like when you are standing. There’s no weight more at the front or the back – it is even across the whole foot.

Then there is the ball of the foot – where if you say stand on your tip toes (unless you are a pointe trained ballet dancer) is where most people will end up. For this step they will be using the flat foot and the ball of the foot.

The action

This step can be done on the spot or travelling. However the idea is the same. The “change” is swapping the weight from one foot to another – just like a step.

So starting with this idea of a travelling ball change – simply step right foot, then left.

To make it a ball change – you step onto the ball of the foot for the right step, then onto the flat foot of the left. So there seems a little lift up on the right (ball) step,  and then a drop when back onto the flat foot of the left.

Exactly the same idea if you step with your left foot first.

If it is on the spot – again – same idea just change the weight from one to the other with the first foot/step being on the ball and the other flat foot.


You can turn this step into a huge range of other things – you can turn it, and a kick, add direction, height, incorporate a huge number of other ideas too.

Once you have the basics – have a play around and see what you can do


How to improve your Jumps

Jumping – completely different in dancing to most other things – generally for dance it is part of the performance, for style reasons, to add something to a routine or to showcase something.

This means it requires a bit more thought that just leaving the floor from two feet.

Firstly, you must protect your knees! DO NOT land with straight legs. Bend before you jump and land with bent or soft knees through your feet – not with flat feet!

This way not only protects you but also gives you more power to push off from the floor. Think of it like a spring – if you squeeze a spring together a little it will bounce a little, a bigger squeeze and the bounce is bigger!

Secondly, hold your tummy in – DO NOT hold your breath – lift up so you have a strong ‘centre’ this helps you jump higher and keep your balance. It is especially important for when you start adding in arm and leg movements.

Thirdly – think up, think about getting high as possible, and lift into it – you’ll never jump high if your head is down or you don’t use your arms as you should.

Fourthly, control – jumping requires lots of energy, but also control so it looks nice, clean, and strong. Practice doing several jumps in one go – and see if you stay in the same spot – if you move around you need to practice your control – don’t go too fast if your jump is not right.

Basic Jumps and leaps to practice – which will help you get better and be able to learn all the hard ones!

  • Tuck jump – on the spot – both knees up to chest together, arms in and around knees
  • Star jump – on the sport – create a star shape with legs and arms extended
  • Jumping turns – around on the spot – using jumps to turn a full turn, small and controlled
  • Split leap – a leap travelling forward, leaving on one foot and landing on the other – in the air the legs should look like you are in forward splits


Types of Turns and a few tips

In Dance a turn is a rotation of the body – they can be quarter turns, half turns, full turns or even multiple – turning two or three times!

There are many types of turns and they will have different names depending on the style of dance as well as what is actually involved in the turn.

Some you turn on one leg – this is known as the supporting leg, the other is in this instance “airborne” or off the floor on most occasions and is generally known as the working leg. Others you turn on both feet, some you turn in the air. If it is a turn in the air the first leg to leave the floor is the leading leg.

We thought some links to youtube would be helpful so you can see different styles of turns that are most commonly done in our classes. Simply click on the blue link to be taken to the video

Pirouettes: how to do a pirouette for jazz or modern dance, though it mentions ballet and the ideas are the same the working leg would be turned out –

This post covers the basics for your ballet pirouette –

Chaîné Turns: these turns, shown in Jazz style but are popular in freestyle – and here is an example for ballet –

Pivot turns: popular in jazz and freestyle, as well as theatre –

It is important to spot when turning to avoid getting dizzy – this means you find a spot to look at and focus your attention here – as you turn – your eyes stay focus and your head moves around at the last moment to look back at the same spot.

This takes practice and helps if you hold your core or your tummy muscles strong to help balance



In some dance genres and in Labanotation, a turn in which the performer rotates on a pivot point without traveling is known as a pivot.[1]Pivots may be performed on one or on both feet; the latter is sometimes called a twist turn.