S.T.E.P.S. Methods of Teaching Dance

Welcome to Social Graces Ballroom Dance Studio’s teaching methodology.  Our systematic approach is designed to minimize confusion.

This method was created by our studio owner, Freddie Ciampi.  It is used by our trained staff to help save you time and money as you learn in a fun and organized fashion.

Each letter of the S.T.E.P.S. acronym represents one of the five pillars of ballroom dance.  The following is a brief description of each pillar:

Step – Step involves learning the choreography of the pattern.  (This is a fancy way to say “where your feet go.”)  This would include terms such as right foot forward or left foot sideways.  Step incorporates the timing of a pattern which is how that basic foot description fits the music.  This would include terms such as slow or quick or a sequence of numbers to denote speed and musicality.  This is usually taught first, along with Partnership (which incorporates leading and following, as described later).

Technique – Technique is basically learning how to achieve maximum balance and control.  It also involves the study of which muscles to use to move fast or smoothly.

Expression – Expression is the personalized, artistic side of dance.  As you learn the different components of expression, you begin to add your favorite aspect of each dance while staying true to the general nature of the dance.

Partnership – In a nutshell, partnership includes leading and following.  Most people misunderstand what it means to lead and follow. Leading is not a command, but an invitation.  Someone who is properly trained knows how to give a proper invitation without being controlling or overbearing.  On the flip side, a follower does not submit to the leader, but instead plays an equal role in creating the dance.  It takes two to tango, just as it does in many aspects of life.  Quite often, the follower has the more visually pleasing movements in a dance, and it is the follower’s sole responsibility to add the embellishments.  The leader simply offers a structure that can be embellished.  Each role is different and each is necessary for the dance to be successful.

Style – Finally, style indicates the characteristic style that represents the human emotion suggested by the creators of each dance.  This human emotion is expressed by how the dancers move their bodies and communicate with each other.  For example, one of the ways tango gets its sultriness is by the dancers bending their knees the entire time they are dancing, thus creating a catlike movement (I bet you just tried this at home, didn’t you?!).  A way to create tension between dancers is through staccato steps (like jumping from stone to stone in a creek).  If you put these two characteristic styles together, you start to create an interesting story simply by moving.

This is a simplification of what we teach at Social Graces.  Our programs help you to track where you are and what you are learning.  We teach you how to think like a dancer, so you will actually learn faster in the future.  Not only does this teaching method help you as our student, but it keeps our staff focused as well.

Contact us today to schedule your next private lesson.  See you on the dance floor!

Freddie Ciampi

For more dance information, call 540-409-7136 or visit us at:

Social Graces Ballroom Dance Studio

639 East Main Street

Berryville, VA 22611