80+ Dance Vocabulary Words in Spanish
Dance vocabulary words and dance terms are something you need to know if you want to talk about dancing!
Bailar, or dancing in Spanish, is one of the most popular activities in the world! A lot of people do it as hobbies, others as a way to have fun at parties and family reunions and other people even practice dance as a sport!
While Latin America and Spain are some traditional and regional dances, some of the most popular dances worldwide are also practiced here! So it is no surprise that there are some terms and words that have been translated to Spanish so people can learn the dances better.
Let’s learn about the fundamental elements of dance in Spanish and the most important dance vocabulary words, words to describe dancers, dance terms in Spanish, and some useful phrases when you dance!
Dance Vocabulary Words in Spanish
When referring to dance vocabulary words, lists can be really extensive, but they can also be boring or difficult to navigate. For that reason, for this blog post, I decided to separate the different dance terms that need to be covered in several groups, so you can find what you need with ease.
Elements of Dance (Elementos del baile)
There are five elements in dancing that are the way it can be described, analyzed, and explained. There are some elements that are mandatory for every dance, while other elements are unique to some types of dances.
Let’s learn about the elements of dance in Spanish:
Elements of Dance in Spanish
|tempo||el tempo/ el tiempo|
Body Parts for Dancing (Las partes del cuerpo en el baile)
The body, or el cuerpo in Spanish, is the main element that you need to dance. It is your instrument.
In dance, the body is felt by the dancer and perceived by those who watch them dance. Your body can move in several different ways, in different forms, extensions and in different times. Some dances require you to emphasize a certain part of your body, and for that reason it is important you know at least some of the most important body parts when dancing!
Body Parts for Dancing in Spanish
|body shapes||las formas del cuerpo|
|body system||el sistema corporal|
|whole body||todo el cuerpo|
Dance Action (La acción en el baile)
When a professional talks about dance terms, usually you hear about la acción, or action, at the moment you dance.
The action is any human movement you make when dancing. It includes the steps, the choreography, your facial expressions, and body gestures. Several actions together create choreographies and mark the flow of the dances alongside pauses and stillness.
Dance Action in Spanish
|axial movement||el movimiento axial|
|dance steps||los pasos de baile|
|facial expressions||las expresiones faciales|
|locomotor movement||el movimiento locomotor|
|partner lifts||las elevaciones de pareja|
|side to side||lado a lado|
Energy in Dance (Energía en el baile)
You can make any kind of action while dancing, but if you don’t measure your energy, it can go from a graceful dance to a complete mess.
La energía, or energy, in simple terms, is how the movement happens. In any kind of dance, the energy variates from one step to the other. It can help transmit to the viewers the feeling and context of the dance, and make them feel part of it.
The energy of dance shows the emotion behind it, and while some dances are more intense than others, the energy is the same, it just changes and flows throughout the performance.
Let’s learn about the dance vocabulary words that are related to energy:
Energy in Dance in Spanish
Time for Dancing in Spanish
When someone refers to el tiempo (or time) in dance, they refer to when an action has to happen.
Sometimes, the time has to be measured with patterns, while other times the performers have the freedom to express the rhythm however they think is convenient.
But, in other instances, time can also be organized by:
- Clock time, or measuring time in seconds, minutes, and even hours.
- Sensed time (tiempo sentido), in which the dancers cue each other with their own performance instead of a clock or patterns.
- Event-sequence time (tiempo por evento o secuencias) where are external and internal cues that signal where the tempo has to be changed.
Here are more dance terms related to time in Spanish:
Time for Dancing in Spanish
|simultaneous timing||el tiempo simultáneo|
|sequential timing||el tiempo secuencial|
If you want to learn more about the different elements of dance in more depth, please check out this page!
Dance Styles in Spanish
There are so many dance styles in the world I couldn’t be able to make just one list about all of them!
While some dances are more popular than others, all of them are special and important to the people who practice them!
Let’s learn dance vocabulary words and dance terms in Spanish that will help you talk about some dances in Spanish:
This one is a musical genre and a dance that originated in Argentina and Uruguay.
The tango is a very intense and intimate dance, with the closeness between the dancers that is reflected in the choreographies and dance steps that can go from easy to really complex.
Here are the basic tango steps:
Tango Steps in Spanish
|close hug||el abrazo estrecho|
|the walk||la caminata|
You can watch the mastery of Tango in this video. Is so amazing!
Also known as danza académica (academic dance), danza clásica (classic dance) or balé, ballet is a kind of dance that can involve dance, mimicry and theater.
Ballet is impressive because it needs the dancers to have almost perfect control of their bodies, and that’s why most ballet dancers began their career at an early age to master it.
When you dance ballet, you use your body and your mind at the same time in harmony, and that is reflected in the dance at the point the public can notice it with ease to the point sometimes you can’t even find words to describe ballet dancers.
Most dance steps in ballet come from French, and while it is popular in Spanish-speaking countries, these dance vocabulary words for ballet are not translated to Spanish.
So, here is a list of basic ballet dance steps in their original language because it is the same name in Spanish:
- Grand battement
- Pas couru
- Grand jeté
Do you want to enjoy some ballet? Check out this excerpt of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker.
La Salsa (which literal translation means sauce in English) is the result of the mix of the Cuban son with Caribbean music, jazz, and blues.
It began to get more and more popular during the 1960s in New York, thanks to Puerto Rican music and dancers, and to this day, it is still one of the most representative sounds and dances of Latino Americans.
There are a lot of types of Salsa, but one of the most popular is la Salsa Cubana (Cuban salsa)—also known as Rueda de Casino (Casino wheel)—which is the most complex and fun to dance, and for that reason, is the one you will learn about with the following dance terms in Spanish:
Salsa Steps in Spanish
|for the middle||pa’l medio|
|one jar||un tarro|
|one lie||una mentira|
|parallel arms position||guapea|
|take her down||llévala pa’ bajo|
|we walk backward||caminamos pa’bajo|
|we walk forward||caminamos pa’rriba|
Want to learn Salsa? Check out this tutorial video in Spanish!
4. Ballroom Dances (Bailes de Salón)
Los bailes de salón, or ballroom dances, are several types of dances that are enjoyed by a large number of couples at the same time. They can be enjoyed in a fun, relaxed environment, or in a competitive one.
Here are some examples of ballroom dances and their dance terms in Spanish.
El vals, or waltz, originated in Austria and Germany in the 18th century as the evolution of some traditional dances in the region.
There are several different kinds of waltz, like the Viennese Waltz, or el vals peruano, and every type has its own rules and dances, especially if it is in a competitive setting.
Basic Waltz Dance Steps in Spanish
|closed changes||los cambios cerrados|
|double reverse spin||doble giro inverso|
|natural turn||turno natural|
|outside change||el cambio exterior|
|reverse pivot||el pivote en reverso|
Waltz is such a beautiful and refined dance, and if you enjoy it as much as I do, I am sure this video of several couples dancing at the same time will fascinate you!
This is a really energetic kind of dance, and comes from the French that means “two steps.” When you dance the pasodoble you do it giving powerful steps that are usually organized in “two steps” at a time, hence the name.
Pasodoble is a dance where the man represents a torero (bullfighter) and the woman represents his cape. While the man dances with really intense energy, the woman is more subtle and elegant, making an enticing combination.
Pasodoble Names in Spanish
|flamenco taps||los golpes de flamenco|
|syncopated separation||la separación sincopada|
Check out this amazing choreography of pasodoble!
Literally translated as paso rápido in Spanish, Quickstep is one of the most fun and quicker dances in the world!
The dance moves are fast and powerful, full of intention and intensity.
Quickstep appeared during the 1920s in New York and was danced by the Caribbean and African dancers, and with time, its popularity made almost everyone dance!
This dance is a combination of foxtrot and charleston, and to this day it is still danced in ballroom competitions and by casual dancers all around the world.
Quickstep Dance Steps in Spanish
|get up and fall||levantarse y caer|
|lock step||el paso de bloqueo|
|natural hairpin||la horquilla natural|
|roundabout||el cruce giratorio|
|running finish||la ejecución de acabado|
Check out this video of a Quickstep final in 2014. Is so fast and fun!
5. Hip Hop or Breaking
El hip hop is not only a dance but a culture that originated in the Bronx in New York by Afroamericans and Latin Americans during the 1970s and has been popular around the world, especially during the last few decades.
Although we usually refer to the hip hop dance as “breakdance,” the actual dance term is “breaking” which translates to quebrar in Spanish.
There are so many breaking dance moves that originate from a set of basic moves and then dancers modify them to make new and more complicated steps.
Hip Hop Dance Vocabulary Words in Spanish
|cross walk||la caminata cruzada|
|the fila||el fila|
|the robot||el robot|
Here is a tutorial video of 3 basic hip-hop dance steps that will make you the life of the party next time!
Flamenco is a Spanish music genre that was developed in Andalucia, especially in the areas of Cadiz, Jerez, Sevilla, and Granada, between a few more.
Flamenco is a mixture of the Andalusian culture with Romany elements, thanks to the Romanian immigrants that lived in the region, giving birth at one of the most important dances in Spain to this date.
Flamenco is popular all around the world, and, just like every dance, it has basic steps that are mixed and changed to make more complex and enticing choreographies.
Modern dance vocabulary words for Flamenco:
|arm movement||el braceo|
Check out these amazing Flamenco choreographies of the Flamenco Festival in New York city!
Let’s Talk About Dancing
Here are some examples of how to talk about dancing and dance in Spanish:
¿Me concede esta pieza?
Can I have this dance?
¡Tengo dos pies izquierdos!
I have two left feet!
Aprendí baile de salón desde que tengo 6 años. ¡Ahora, me gusta bailar breaking!
I have been learning ballroom since I was 6 years old. Now, I like to dance breaking!
Mi baile favorito es el tango argentino. ¡Es tan apasionado!
My favorite dance is Argentinian tango. It’s so passionate!
Me gusta danzar.
I like to dance.
Me gusta bailar.
I like to dance.
Words To Describe Dancers
Let’s Practice Spanish!
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