The Four Types of Floorcraft

29 February 2016

Floorcraft is the art of changing your routines so that you don't crash. If you've ever been to a competition or a social dance, you know that things don't always go as planned. In more stationary dances like Cha Cha, Rumba, and Jive, you stay in your own space and nobody bothers you, but in Samba, Paso Doble, and all the Standard dances, you progress around the floor. Sometimes, you have an idea of where you want to go next - the only problem is that another couple has that same spot in mind, and there's only enough room for one of you. This is where Floorcraft comes in. At social dances, crashing isn't fun; at competitions, judges can't see your dancing if you're in a crash, so they look elsewhere.

In this article, we will discuss four great ways to use Floorcraft: Curving, Line Figures, Pivots, and Dodgers


Curving means maintaining the choreography, but adjusting the angles slightly to avoid a collision. This is the best option, because it doesn't change the routine drastically, allowing the routine to stay on phrase and not confusing the Lady by changing choreography. It is also pretty much the only option in Latin, since it is so much harder to lead changes in choreography there than it is in Standard. This is also the only option in Viennese Waltz, since there is constant progression around the floor and only have nine figures to choose from.

Let's say you are doing a Waltz Progressive Chasse to the Right, travelling down LOD. If a couple is there, travel instead DC to cut around them. In Samba, if you're dancing Criss Cross Voltas down the side or the room, curve them in either direction to go around any obstacles.

Line Figures

In Standard, if it is impossible to curve the routine around the obstacle, such as if a couple is blocked in at a corner, a great option is to do a Line Figure, such as the Contra Check, Right Lunge, or Oversway. Note that the Contra Check is a Gold figure in Waltz and Tango, and not even in the Syllabus in Foxtrot and Tango, while the Right Lunge and the Oversway are not in any Syllabus, and considered Open figures.

As dodgers, Line Figures are extremely easy. They can be done anywhere at any time, and are easy to get out of as well. They also serve to show off your frame to the judges, but beware of dancing them if you have a bad frame, because you will be showcasing something you don't want judges to focus on.


Pivots are a very easy way for a couple to keep their space and not affect their routines too much. Nobody wants to get too close to a couple dancing Pivots, so a bubble of space is often created around them, freeing them to move after they finish. Continuous pivots are considered Open level figures, but if a couple is truly boxed in, it will be allowable to dance them even at a Syllabus level competition.

To dance them, dance four pivots in place, each making 3/4 of a turn either to the left or the right. By the end of those pivots, you will be facing the same alignment, in the same place along the floor, and be on the same beat as you were before you started, so you can continue with your routine as if nothing had happened. If the obstacle is still there, do four more pivots. Remember, if you were going to dance a Reverse figure, you should be dancing Reverse Pivots, whereas if you were going to dance a Natural figure, you should be dancing Natural Pivots.


Dodgers are the most difficult, and yet most elegant method of Floorcraft. When a Man uses a Dodger, he uses a figure he hadn't planned on using to avoid a collision and then return to his routine. This changes the choreography, and requires the Lady to follow something she didn't expect. This requires superb leading and following, but also extensive knowledge of figures, so the correct one can be chosen at the correct time. However, if this is done properly, nobody will be able to tell that what was danced was not the original routine, and instead it will appear that the couple was just able to weave in and out of everybody without any trouble. Here are some examples of great dodgers:

  Basic Dodgers
1 (Waltz) You have danced 1-3 of a Natural Turn, and want to continue with a Spin Turn, but there is a couple directly down LOD from you. Instead, dance a Closed Impetus to make the same amount of turn, but not to travel down LOD so far.
2 (Waltz) You have danced 1-3 of a Reverse Turn, and want to continue going down LOD with the rest of the Reverse Turn, or another Reverse figure that travels, but a couple is standing there. Instead, dance a Reverse Corte or Hover Corte, then a Back Whisk, avoiding the collision and allowing you to go into Promenade Position to curve your next figure easily around the obstacle.
3 (Tango) You are about to dance an Open Reverse Turn toward DC, but you don't have space. Instead, dance a Progressive Side Step Reverse Turn, which starts and ends on the same foot and still makes 3/4 turn to the left overall, but doesn't travel nearly as much.
4 (Tango) You about to dance a Walk or Progressive Link toward DW, but a couple has moved right in front of you. Instead, dance a Back Corte, allowing you to move to the side and even turn to the left if you need to.
5 (Foxtrot) You have begun to dance your Reverse Turn, which you want to complete by dancing a Feather Finish, but you see there is congestion down LOD. Instead, underturn 1-4 of the Reverse turn so the Man ends backing DW, then dance a Basic Weave, cutting around any problem, and allowing you to end in the same alignment if you choose.
6 (Foxtrot) You have danced a Feather Finish and want to continue with a Three Step, but there is no way you can curve it around the couples blocking your way. Instead, dance a Top Spin and continue DC or DW of new LOD.
7 (Quickstep) You about to dance a Quick Open Reverse (SSQQ) starting with the Man's RF forward OP toward DC, but you see your path is blocked. Instead, dance a Fishtail, allowing you to stall for a while and continue to the same alignment or to turn to LOD or even DW and bypass the problem all together.
8  (Quickstep) You are are about to dance Back Locks down LOD, but there isn't enough space. Instead, dance a Running Finish around your obstacle.