Country Dancing

Different Levels of Line Dances

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In this article, I will attempt to explain the different levels of line dances; I say ‘attempt’ because even though I have been a line dance teacher for over 25 years, I still get frustrated with these categories. I’ll explain why later; first let me give you these simple descriptions of the levels:

  1. Basic (Ultra-beginner or Beginner) – for new dancers with no experience
  2. Novice (Seasoned Beginner) – for dancers who understand the basic steps & terminology
  3. Intermediate – experienced dancers who have a strong knowledge of steps & terminology
  4. Advanced – progressive dancers who can execute complex steps and patterns

Since I teach lessons in all four categories, I am familiar with the progressions from Basic to Advanced. What I find frustrating is when a dance is categorized in a level either above or below where it “belongs.” Since I’ve never choreographed a line dance, I don’t know the process of ranking them. So I asked two friends of mine, who are local line dance teachers/choreographers, what their criteria involves.

Dee stated that she has noticed it seems some choreographers outside of the USA tend to rank their dances at a higher scale. One of the criteria Dee tends to use is if a dance has a tag or restart, it is probably not a beginner dance. In her opinion, certain steps should not be in beginner dances; like full turns and multiple wall changes. She also believes beginner dances should be 32 counts or less and fast BPM (beats per minute) of the song may not be appropriate.

Gloria Stone specified that unfortunately there are as many ideas of dance levels as there are choreographers, hence the nonconformity. Her ranking criteria included what I previously stated by Dee; Gloria expanded by stating that beginner dances shouldn’t include any triple count steps (shuffle, kick ball change, or waltz patterns). Also, Gloria feels a beginner dance should have symmetry; such as, a step done to the right should be reversed to the left (or front & back).

In addition, Gloria indicated that the nature of line dance was meant to be available to people with NO formal dance background of any kind. Many people have tried to come up with rules for step categories and levels; regrettably even with instructors, the language is not uniform.

I agree that teachers (and choreographers) have different names for the same pattern which can cause confusion in beginners, as well as an experienced instructor like me! I sometimes disregard the ranked level and match the dance steps to the ability of my students. It’s an ongoing process!!

Step Sheets
This is a beginner level dance:
Step Sheet: Best Friend (aka. My Worst Best Friend)

This is an intermediate level dance:
Step Sheet: Zero to Crazy

Dori Yez teaches Country Line Dancing on Mondays at Rolling Mills Bar in Girard, Ohio and Thursdays at the Landmark Hotel in Mercer, PA. For more information, check out their Facebook pages. In addition, Dori teaches line dance at Trumbull SCOPE Centers: at the Niles location on Tuesdays and in Cortland on Fridays.

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