Beginner Level Steps, Turns, and Arm Movements (Faldeos) 

Students should always warm up before beginning dance. Please our section on Warms Ups before starting any dance practice. 

CLOTHING - Students should dance in comfortable clothes. Dancers wear leotard and tights or stretchy clothing so that they can clearly see the lines and shapes their bodies make.


 Hair should be in a bun so it is not a distraction. 

PRACTICE SKIRTS - In order to build arm strength and to execute faldeo's (arm movements) correctly, students will want to wear practice skirts when they dance.  (Josefina practice skirts can be purchased online from Mariachi Connection for about $40.) 

How to put on a practice skirt

To avoid tearing tearing/damaging your skirts, trying skirts on over the head, if you can manage. It may be easier if you can have someone help you put on your skirt. 

First tie the back and then the front at waist level.  Don't tie so tightly you can't breath easily, but your skirt will slip down if it isn't just right. 

See the video on the right for tips on putting on your practice skirt. 

Beginners should  master these basic building blocks of Ballet Folklorico before moving on to more complicated steps or faldeos: 

  • A faldeo movement for both Sinaloa and Jalisco.

  • Turns (vueltas)– a small well-shaped or round circle made both to the right and the left. 

  • Spins (giros) – turning on the toes, but staying the same spot. 

  • Zapateado de tres (the three basic steps of Ballet Folklorico ) 

Let's tackle faldeos first!



A faldeo is a basic move that involves swirling large skirts (Jalisco, for example) with the arms to create a pleasing undulating pattern. It is a key move and should be mastered before adding footwork. 


First be sure to warm up. See also: Arm Warm Ups (link) 


Extend arms parallel to the ground. 

  • Make grasping moves with hands/fingers x 10. 

  • Flip wrists up and down approximately 10 times. 

  • Turn wrists around in circles in one direction and then the other x 10.

  • Rotate entire arms in small circles x 10. 

  • Bend arms at the elbows and make small circles with the hands. 4-5 forward and 4-5 backwards.

  • Rotate entire arms in big circles that encompass the shoulder x 5-10. 

  • Raise arms bent at the elbows to the chest and turn gently to right and left to stretch waist and back x 5-10.

  • With wrists flexed, bend to the left and right x 5 on each side, alternating one side and then the other .


Holding the skirt

Grasp one side of the skirt near where ribbons/ruffles begin. Have your palms face up. Do not hyper extend the arm. Your elbow should be slightly bent. Keep the skirt away from the body. If it gets too close you lose the shape. Practice gathering with one and then both hands. 

One-Handed Faldeo

Initiate movement of the skirt with a wrist flip; arms should be extended but not hyper extended. Flip the wrist back and forth. Don’t cover the face. Minimize shoulder movement. Arm should be straight in back when extended at the full range of the movement. 

Now for Steps: 

Zapateado de Tres

Zapateado means to tap dance and comes from the Spanish verb zapatear – to stomp or drum. Thus, this step, zapateado de tres, means to tap or stomp three counts. These rapid small steps, made almost in place, are the basic building blocks of dance. You’ll find them in El Son de la Negra, for example.


What does it convey? At times dancers use zapateados is used to “show off” or attract attention as part of storytelling.

How to do it: 


With the first step make a plie as you lift the knee and make the first step. Follow with a second  and third step. (Note: Some regions require you keep the feet completely flat. Jalisco and Colima use a zapateado with a heel (con taco’n)  Hands are at the waist, with elbows bent. 



  • Practice slowly and then increase speed. 


Puntillas (Tiptoes)

This is a variation of Zapateado de tres that uses the same 1-2-3 tapping rhythm but all of the work (tapping) is done while the dancer is on the ball of the foot. 


Vuelta – Turns



Tutorial Video – Folklórico Turns - Ballet Folklórico de los Angeles (In English)

This video breaks it down into 3 components. 


Other Basic Steps


Step 1: Carretilla – 2 flat steps with each foot. 

Keeping the foot flat, stamp lightly twice with one foot and then shift and repeat with the other. Do not heel-toe this step. Keep knees slightly bent to add spring. 



  • Start slowly and then get faster and faster. 

  • Move across the dance floor using only carretilla steps. 


Step 2: Stomp in back, heel in front. 


How to put on a practice or Jalisco skirt & perform basic arm movements (faldeos) with a Jalisco skirt.

Faldeo 101 with Kareli Montoya. (English)

Video – Faldeo tutorial 101, Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles:  


Video – Instructions for Jalisco Faldeo (by Ballet Folklorico Artistic Director Luisa Zaragoza)

Video – Faldeo tutorial 101 #2,

Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles: