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What is Line Dance?

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By Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Line Dance is a social and fun type of choreographed movement, danced in lines and sometimes positioned patterns. The basic choreography of line dancing includes formations of 1 or more lines of people that perform the same steps in sequence to the music.

Generally movement follows a square or north, east, south, west pattern, where the combination of steps is completed facing one direction for instance the front and then the group as a whole turn and repeat the same movements to the side, back, other side and then turn to repeat them again to the front. This pattern continues until the song being danced to ends.

Line dance is characterized by leg movements completed on the spot as well as travelling steps side to side, rocking forwards and backwards and turns. The focus is usually on the legs and feet with hands by the side or on the hips although some line dances have specific arm movements or claps and waves etc through out the dance. As this is a social fun dance some people move their arms in time to the beat of the music clicking, clapping and waving them in the air.

Most associate line dance with country line dance in its most relaxed fun setting at the country-western dance clubs but it has become competitive over the years since its inception in the 1950s. The release of Billy Ray Cyrus’s Achy Breaky heart in 1992 skyrocketed the interest in western line dancing.

Since then, the Electric Slide, the Macarena and Cha-Cha slide, and many others are hugely popular dances at weddings and other social events. In Australia when the song ‘Nutbush City Limits’ by Tina Turner or ‘Are you Ready Do The Bus Stop’ by Fatback Band are cranked up by the DJ, you will see nearly every guest at the party hit the dance floor into lines and do the moves of these iconically Australian social line dances.


Line dance is not always as simple as one might think and can involve learning movement and motion from various other forms of dance that include ballroom and Latin dance as well as country and street dancing. 

Competitive line dance has several categories and divisions. Classic Line dance, Showcase line dance, Team line dance, Choreography line dance, Solo, and Amateur line dance. You can compete in classic line dance from beginner to advanced. 

Classic line dance is quite strict and does not allow much flexibility in choreography such as acrobatic tricks or individual floor work. The key is following the original dance as closely as possible. Showcase line dance varies in these dancers are not required to stay in lines and are allowed to add tricks such as high kicks and jumps. Ideally, a showcase performance would tell a story and is a lot like musical theater. 

Team line dance must include 3 or more dancers. Classic country line dance must use 100% country music or can enter as an open team which allows dancers the opportunity to choose music and to use props. 

Choreography line dance involves competition based on the actual choreography and dancers are not judged, the choreography is. Lastly, there are opportunities in a line dance competition for beginners and soloists that have slightly different competition entry and performance rules.

This page is just one of hundreds of definitions of the many styles and genres of dance. This library is being continually added to by the writers and contributors of Dance Parent 101!