Figuring Out the Steps
Of course, all this math regarding beats per minute is secondary to your character: You first need to figure out how your character will move. Dance steps can be as simple as shaking the character's hips to the beat or as complex as tap dancing.
The one thing about dancing is that it lends itself to cyclical motion. That classic 1970s dance craze The Hustle, for example, is a series of steps that repeat. So is that mid-1990s craze The Macarena. These two examples might be a bit dated and tacky, but they show that many dancers tend to repeat the same moves a number of times. You can animate a single shimmy or a hip shake, for example, repeat it for a few measures, and then switch to other moves. Of course, dancers will never repeat the same move exactly the same way twice, so be sure to use the cycles as a basis for building unique motions on each cycle.
Dance moves can be very trendy. What is hip and cool in dance clubs and music videos this year will be totally passe[ag] the next. If you're animating for a music video, for example, you might need to duplicate a specific dance move. In this case, it is probably best to discuss the moves with a choreographer or videotape them as a reference.
There's also the subject of the more formal modes of dancing, such as ballet, ballroom dancing, modern dance, jazz, and tap. All of these have a number of very unique steps, poses, and requirements. At this point, we'll discuss more informal dance moves.