After selecting a song and either a short or full version of it, players are presented with an on-screen dancer, as well as an occasional display of scrolling pictograms/silhouettes representing specific poses. While holding a Wii Remote in their right hand, players follow the moves of the on-screen dancer and their choreographed routine. Players are judged by their animated score icons on a ranking scale for the accuracy of each of their moves in comparison to that of the on-screen dancer, and receive points. There are three judgements, "X", "OK" and "Great". The "X" means that the player didn't get the move, "OK" means that the player tried, but isn't quite there, or the player is almost there, and "Great" means the player did an awesome job on the move. Some moves are shake moves, where when the shake meter appears in front of their animated score icons, players shake their Wii Remotes as fast as they can to earn bonus points. Just Dance can be played by up to six players at once on eighth generation consoles. Seventh generation consoles are limited to four players.
Along with standard play, three other modes are included; the "Warm Up" mode serves as a practice mode. In "Strike a Pose" mode, players are instructed at random to freeze (similar to Red light green light). In "Last One Standing" mode, players are given seven lives; players lose lives on mistakes, and gain them back after hitting five correct moves in a row; if a player loses all seven lives, they are eliminated.