Type   Transition MoveTurn
Level   Level 3 Beginner
Other Names   Butterfly, Back and Forth
Comes From   Open PositionOutside Turn, Tornado
Leads To  Crossed Arm Slide, Open Position


This move is a turn where the partners switch places, and then usually switch back, Zig-zagging across each others’ path. It’s also sometimes called The Butterfly, in reference to its Butterfly position.

Some Country Swing dancers erroneously refer to this as the basic step. In stead, it is the most basic turn move in Country Swing.

Be sure to read below for other variations.


  1. Start in Butterfly Open Position.
  2. Overall footwork for the lead is RLR, LRL. Counts are 1–2& 3–4&.
    1. While it is not common for the lead to begin on his right foot, it is necessary for the lead and follow to match footwork on this move. To prepare to step right first, you will take an extra step at the end of the previous move (on the & of the final count).
  3. On the first count, rotate your chest Counter-clockwise (left) on a diagonal. Step your right foot forward in the same diagonal direction. Stretch your arms out horizontally.
    • If both partners are taking good steps, your foot will be stepping past your partner’s foot somewhere toward the middle of your frame. The ideas is to be completely side-to-side with your partner here.
  4. On beat 2, Step or swing your left foot around next to your right foot while you rotate clockwise (right) to face your partner again.
  5. On the & of 2 rock back on your right foot.
  6. Repeat starting with the left foot (LRL) over the next two counts to switch back to your original place, hence the name Zig-zag. 


  1. Overall footwork for the follow is RLR, LRL. Counts are 1–2& 3–4&.
  2. When your lead starts to rotate their body you will know to which side they are going. This is important to note because the lead might want to do a variation and go to the same side twice. Go with the momentum.
    1. If they are doing the version above, you will rotate your chest to the Counter-clockwise (left) diagonal on the first beat and step Right foot first.
    2. On beat 2, step or swing your left foot around to your right foot as you rotate clockwise to face your partner.
    3. On the & of beat 2, rock step back with your right foot.
    4. Repeat starting with your left foot, if the lead indicates so.


  • Remember to lead with the body instead of with the arms.
    • All moves are initiated with the body so that a direction change is immediately felt and recognized by the follow.
    • If you initiate with your arms instead, the transfer of information to your follow is delayed and she might misstep.
    • Both leads and follows should recognize that some leads will be more forceful to compensate for poor body lead. This can be dangerous.
  • Partners should match each other’s size of steps and body rotation. If one person is barely moving forward on the steps, and the other is taking large steps to compensate, it looks awkward. 
  • Keep your arms low (less than parallel to the floor) for the zig-zag. Bring them up when you’re ready to do the Crossed Arm Slide. This makes the signal very clear to read.
  • I’ve seen some leads keep their arms close for the zig-zag even when they have enough space–you can still do the move effectively, but it doesn’t look as good as a stretch would. If you have space, take it!
  • To get the right amount of rotation on the zig-zag, think about trying to touch shoulder-to-shoulder when you come in closer.


  • Zig-zag Circle Turn — repeat the move on the same side twice to move about in a circle instead of a zig-zag.
    • Footwork will start with the same side for each turn. In order to stay on the same foot, the easiest thing to do is add another step RLRL, RLR.
    • The prep for the second side will occur on that extra step so that the follow knows what to expect.
  • One-handed zig-zag turn, typically only one “zig.”
  • Footwork variation: A nice way to style this move once you have mastered it–add a ronde to your second step.
    • The ronde is slow, and your feet will close together on the & of 2.
    • This looks best if partners are matching footwork, meaning they are both doing the ronde. The follow should feel free to style with a ronde whenever she wishes, since her part is supposed to be more stylized.

3 thoughts on “Zig-zag

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.