Dance step diagrams show how to dance by illustrating the steps for students along with the music count. For dance purposes, music is counted in sets of 8 that are identified by the beat, with 32 beats per minute. In dance step diagrams, the right foot is shaded, and arrows indicate the way dancers step and on which beat dancers move. Dancers count the music and follow the illustrated steps to learn how to dance using a diagram.
The counts for music on dance diagrams show how the music should be counted by dancers. Letters "Q" for "quick" and "S" for "slow" are common indicators. A pause is indicated by either a blank space or the diagram feet staying in the same place for an additional count. When dancers are expected to draw out a step, such as during a tango in which quick steps are followed by slower steps drawn out over the course of more than one count, the diagram may show multiple "S" characters or "SxS."
Dance step diagrams are used to teach beginners the basic steps of a dance, and the diagrams help dancers to learn steps at home. They do not indicate movements made with the arms, hips or upper body during a dance, because these are difficult to illustrate. A verbal description of the movement may be available with the diagram, and is open to dancer interpretation.