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TECHNICAL DEFINITIONS

 

FOOT POSITION

Defined as the direction of the moving foot in relation to the standing foot. For example, ”RF fwd” is a movement of the right foot in a forward direction from the standing left foot. Another example: “LF to side” is a movement that ends to the side of the right foot. On a forward turn the foot will normally track forward, through Swing, before the body turn creates the side position.
When standing in the normal dance position in line with partner it is usually taken with the feet on parallel tracks. “RF fwd” will be taken to the inside of partners right foot line and “LF fwd” taken to the outside of partners right foot line. On some very strongly turned figures the track may change and this is noted. The following notes also explain other definitions given under the Foot Position heading.

Teaching Tip. “Four feet, four tracks”

a. Side leading is given within the Foot Position description as it is used on a forward or backward step when a following step is taken outside partner and sometimes in Promenade Position. The body is shaped by rotation to create a side leading. In this shape the body weight will move diagonally across the foot to place the next step in CBMP, (see below).

b. Contra Body Movement Position (CBMP) is given within the Foot Position description as it qualifies the direction of the moving foot forwards or backwards from the standing foot. It occurs when the moving foot is placed on the line of the supporting foot, creating one track. For example, when stepping outside partner, or when using the inside foot in Promenade Position, or outside foot in Fallaway Position. It is not created on the step itself, as the sideways, or diagonal movement of the body weight over the previous step places the following forward or backward step in CBMP. There is an exception on a Reverse Swivel, when the Man creates more turn than the Lady. Here the term Thrown CBMP indicates that CBMP is produced by changing the direction of weight and therefore is created as the step is danced, (see Teleswivel).

c. Forward and across in CBMP is the movement approximately 5-10 cm across the line of the standing foot and will be found on some movements in Promenade Position. This must still be taken as primarily a forward step and NOT taken sideways across the standing foot, as the thighs should not cross, causing distortion of the Hip line.

d. Promenade Position is created by the Man’s change of his area of contact from the vertical centre line of his right hip to rib cage – see Development of Posture and Hold – to the vertical line on the side of his right hip to rib cage. The Lady’s contact area remains the same but she will be aware of a pressure due to the shape of the Man’s hip being more pronounced on the side than in front. The movement for both will be in the same forward direction, for example along LOD.

Teaching Tip. As Man, turn bodyline to right into Promenade Position

e. Counter Promenade Position is created by the Man’s change of his area of contact from the vertical centre line of his right hip to the vertical centre line of his body. The Lady’s contact area will change to the vertical line on the side of her right thigh and hip. Therefore the couple have assumed each other’s body position of a Promenade Position.

f. Fallaway Position is the same body position as Promenade Position, however the movement for both will be in the same backward direction, for example down LOD.

Teaching Tip. To create Fallaway Position as Man, think of swinging the side of the right hip to the Lady’s centre line of contact.

g. Counter Fallaway Position is the same body position as Counter Promenade Position, however the movement for both will be in the same backward direction, for example down LOD

h. Outside Partner is a position where the right foot moves forwards to the outside of the partner’s right foot. It must be in CBMP. The normal body contact must remain the same.

Teaching Tip. Think outside from the knee down.

i. Outside Partner on Left Side is the same position as above but with “LF fwd” taken to the outside of partner’s left foot.

j. Same Foot is the position where both Man and Lady stand on the same foot and not the usual opposite foot. For example this occurs in the Same Foot Lunge where both Man and Lady have their weight on their right foot. The Man will adjust his hip position so Lady’s left thigh and hip line will be just inside the line of Man’s right thigh and hip. She will maintain her centre line towards the Man, although her contact will be felt through her left hip and thigh line.

k. Knee Flexion is accepted as being part of any lowering action, however in Line figures where the knee is flexed to create the shape of the Line, it is noted. The degree of flexion depends on the dancers physique and the figure being danced.

l. Toe turned in will be used slightly on nearly all backward turning leading steps. However when it is used strongly to create the ease of dancing the amount of turn, or it is necessary to maintain the centre line of balance, it is noted.

m. Toe turned out is described when a forward step is turned out from its track when checking a movement, such as The Chair.

 

ALIGNMENT

Defined as the direction the foot is facing, backing or pointing in relation to the room.

Line of Dance (LOD) is an imaginary line, parallel to wall, which is thought of as under the standing foot. The general movement of dance follows the LOD. See description of Floorcraft.

Direction of movement is sometimes given as well as an Alignment. For example, in Promenade Position when the foot may be Facing DW, but the body weight is moving along LOD. This also occurs in Fallaway Position. Sometimes used on other figures to help the understanding of where the foot actually travels. See the notes on Tango for further use of Direction.

AMOUNT OF TURN

Defined as the turn made between the feet. On forward turns the turn is generally split between steps 1-2 and 2-3. There are some exceptions. The amount of turn split between these steps may vary depending on the couples training as to how far the swinging leg moves forward before lateral movement begins. However this book generally adheres to the way turn is described in the Original Technique. On backward turns, the turn is completed between steps 1-2 with the body turning less to allow for the partners forward Swing and later completion of turn. Please see the section on Tango for the necessary description for this dance. Other ways, in which turning actions are described in the Foot Position section, are given below.

a. Pivot. A turn made on ball of one foot with foot flat. Up to 1/2 turn may be used. During the Pivot the free leg will be held in CBMP; this is lost as the following leading forward step is commenced, due to a slight under turn of the pivoting foot. However the standing knee continuing the movement of body weight at the end of a Pivot, creates a rotation of the knee, providing a strong CBM, and will complete the full amount of turn of the Pivot, causing the following step to end in CBMP. When dancing a Pivot turning left, partner will also end back on the following step in CBMP. This is a development of the original technique, created through the freedom of movement that is possible due to the wider and higher hold, and the requirement to provide a stronger Swing into following figures. See Spin Action below for the partner’s reaction to a Pivot to right.

b. Open Toe Pivot. As for the Pivot but-turn is commenced from toe of preceding step and is made on toe with a lowering at the end of the turn. For example, used in a Tumble Turn. The term Open is used to differentiate between Toe Pivot, given in the Original Technique as a turn made on the toe, whilst the other foot closes to the turning foot (Double Reverse Spin as Man).

c. Spin Action. A continuation of turn from RF forward, when partner is stepping back into a Pivot turning to right, by allowing the following left foot to Swing forward to end backwards and slightly to side. It may be used to continue rotation to right, over a number of musical bars, using a Pivot and a Spin Action repeatedly. Other examples are Lady’s step 4 into 5 of a Running Spin Turn and Lady’s step 3 of a Checked Reverse Turn into the following step. This is a development of the Pivoting Action described in the Original Technique, creating a freedom to the degree of movement danced at a high level. It is not used when turning to left because the normal contact, towards Man’s right side, will create a Pivot for both Man and Lady.

d. Swivel. A turn normally made outside partner on ball of foot with foot flat, or on toe lowering at the end of the turn. At the end of the turn the other foot may be shaped to point backwards, closed without weight, pointed forwards or raised from the floor. Other Swivels may be danced in line, from Promenade Position, from Fallaway Position or outside partner on left side.

e. Open Heel Pivot. A turn made on heel of foot with foot flat whilst the other foot remains in place until rotation is completed. Up to 1/2 turn may be made. For example, step 3 of the Telespin as Man. The reason to use this action is to allow the Man to continue his movement as Lady takes the extra steps. If turn is made only on ball of foot the Man’s body movement will be curtailed. Step 4 of the Open Natural Turn and Quick Outside Spin as Man is written as an Open Heel Pivot action as the turn originates on both heels. The term Open is used to differentiate between Heel Pivot, given in the Original Technique as a turn made on the heel, whilst the other foot closes to the turning foot. (Quarter Turn to Left as Man)

f. Slip Pivot. Is used to describe a Pivot turning to left that commences in Fallaway Position. Man times his body turn to allow the Lady to turn, first on her right foot as a pivot, to ‘slip’ into normal contact, then continue with Man, to dance a Pivot together, on her left foot. Therefore Lady’s action will be described as a Slip Pivot on both steps, whilst Man only on his right foot.

g. Heel Turn. The turn commences with a toe turned in and is completed on the heel of foot with foot flat whilst the other foot closes flat with weight. Up to 1/2 turn may be made. Foot rise will not occur until the projection of the body weight forwards into the following step. During the Lady’s Heel Turn to left a slight under turn is felt due to the later use of the Man’s turn – see

h. Heel Pull. A turn made on heel of foot with foot flat whilst the other foot is ‘pulled” to side with feet parallel to end flat. Rise may be used at the end of the movement to create a Hover effect.

Teaching Tip for closing steps taken with strong rotation. For example, Heel Turns – Man’s Double Reverse Spin –
Brush Steps. The foot should be felt as “pulled” into the closed position from a position of movement under it’s own hip line. This creates a small Rondé action and produces a very stylish foot rhythm and shape.

 

RISE AND FALL

Defined as the elevation produced through feet and legs and the lowering action to commence the next Swing. Each figure has its own characteristic Rise and Fall and the dancers musicality depends on a developed use of these actions.

a. No Foot Rise. On many backward turns the Rise will be felt through the leg, however the heel will remain in contact with floor, giving the effect of Rise without using Foot Rise. Other places where this occurs are noted.

b. Commence to Rise through a forward step is defined as the rise from the previous lowering to normal standing height at the end of the step, at which time the heel will still be in contact with the floor. Continuation of Rise must occur on the following step (the leg which Swings), during which time the heel of the Leading Step will continue to rise from the floor.

c. Rise through a forward step is defined as full foot rise being achieved by the end of the Leading Step, therefore the following step must be Up. In normal movements, on figures that use this type of rise, there will be a very slight increase of height between steps one and two, to give continuity to the Swing. This is created by the weight moving through the foot and over the toe of the leading step.

d. Lowering should be vertical and taken very lightly through the foot and leg. It is the vertical action that assists the control of the foot and leg muscles. The main control of the lowering action is achieved from the foot pressure into the floor on the previous step. This maintains the Flight until the vertical lowering occurs. Different lowering actions are noted.

Teaching Tip. It is most important that the knee of the lowering leg continues to move forward in one smooth action from the lowering into the following step.

 

FOOTWORK

Defined as the use of the foot. For simplicity, in the description, the main part of the foot being used is given, but the advanced dancer must be aware it is the efficient and complete use of the foot when using Swing to Rise and to lower, that creates a powerful rhythmic action. Heel given in brackets signifies a lowering where the heel only touches the floor and does not take weight. Toe, or part of toe, given in brackets signifies a rise where the heel is released from the floor late so weight is not carried through the toe.

a. Using a right foot forward walk as step 1 of a turn, into a rising Swing, the footwork will be as follows: As the right foot passes the lowered preceding left foot, the toe will be in light contact with the floor. As it continues moving forward the ball of foot will be in light contact with the floor and the left heel will release from floor. At the full extent of the stride, floor contact is momentarily lost, as the right heel skims the floor prior to taking weight. The change from ball of foot contact to heel contact is almost instantaneous. Immediately the foot will flick down to being flat, and it is this action that “pulls” the body weight on to the right foot to continue its very smooth movement. The drive from the previous left foot will continue by using pressure on the floor, which will roll through from the ball to the toe of the left foot until full weight is achieved on the right foot. The left foot will then close towards the right foot with the toe in a light contact with the floor.

The type of Swing used will determine how early the rise is felt through the right foot. As the left foot and leg swings forward the toe will remain in light contact with the floor until weight is received first on the inside edge of toe and then ball of foot. At the end of this movement, whatever type of Rise has been used, the whole of the right foot will have been used and the toe is now in contact with the floor.

Teaching Tip. If is extremely important, on a leading step, for the foot to be used completely through its full length. It must not Swivel as weight moves through it as this will cause a toe turned out position and therefore the foot and ankle muscles will not be 100% efficient between steps 1 and 2. “Move on, through and out of the foot.”

b. Using a left foot backward walk as step 1 of a turn, into a rising Swing, the footwork will be as follows: As the left foot passes the lowered preceding right foot, the toe will be in light contact with the floor. As it continues moving backward the ankle will extend, the toe remaining in light contact with the floor and the right toe will release from floor. At the full extent of the stride, weight is taken through the toe to the ball of foot. There will now be a triangular shape of balance between the right heel, the hips and the left ball of foot. Weight is lowered slowly through the left foot with a strong use of the ankle, as the right heel moves backward in light contact with the floor. As the right knee flexes to pass under the body, the right foot remains in a light contact with the floor, changing from heel contact, through ball of foot to toe, and the left heel achieves full weight The type of Swing used will determine how early the rise is felt through the left leg. As the right foot and leg Swings backward, or sideways, the toe will remain in light contact with the floor until weight is received first on the inside edge of toe
and then ball of foot. On this movement, depending on the figure being danced, the left toe will be released from the floor if the right leg Swing is backwards, or the left heel will be released from the floor if the right leg Swing is sideways.

c. Teaching Tip. The control of lowering, from toe to heel, is so important in maintaining the rhythm of the whole movement.

d. On steps taken from a toe to toe a light contact must be maintained with the floor.

e. On a step requiring Flight foot pressure is increased on the floor to maintain an equal level of elevation of the body in the air from the standing foot, until a vertical lowering can occur through toe to the heel of the following step.

f. Inside or Outside Edge. Whilst every step is taken very slightly on either an inside or outside edge, it is noted when a stronger use is necessary. This will occur on Foot Positions with the foot turned out or in; also on Line figures where the extended leg and foot will be shaped to use this stylish technique. Other uses of the feet are explained in the description of the figures. See the Tango section for use of feet in this dance.

 

CONTRA BODY MOVEMENT (CBM)

Defined as the rotation of the opposite side of the body to the leading leg. It is used on all forward and backward steps, which commence a turn. Although the name suggests the turn originates in the body, the mechanics are that as the weight is lowered and moved forward over the standing foot into the leading step, the knee will move towards and over the big toe. This causes a body rotation and allows the Swinging leg to continue into the required turn. As the balance of the previous turn requires Sway to be maintained into the lowering action, there will be a slight side leading as the knee action described commences. When the feet pass at the end of step 1, the body has gained a position of centred balance over the new standing leg, at this moment the upper body will be able to activate the turn giving complete freedom to the swinging leg to create the required Turn, Rise and Sway of the figure. This way a very smooth turning action will be developed from the previous lowering to the end of the Swing.

Teaching Tip Think Swing commences with and continues smoothly into Sway.

a. The strength of varies with the figure and the foot position of the leading step. A general guide is that turns to the right have a stronger CBM than turns to the left. The reason is that the Lady’s body position is centred towards the Man’s right side; therefore he moves around the Lady on right turns and leaves the Lady towards his right side on the left turns. The exception is on steps following a Pivot turning left, caused by the strong continuation of turn. See definition of a Pivot.

Teaching Tip. “Left turn, late turn”

b. Backward Turns. From the above actions the person moving backwards into a turn will feel a stronger sense of CBM, including a slight turn in of the toe, thus creating the sideways Swing of the leg, to enable the partner to Swing forward.

c. Turns commenced outside partner have virtually no commencing CBM from the standing foot as described above. As the weight of the preceding step is moving sideways, or diagonally across the foot, the knee cannot turn towards the big toe at the end of the lowering to generate the commencement of turn in this position. It is generated by the upper body turn, asfeet pass at the end of step 1, and the power of the Swinging leg.

Teaching Tip. “Outside turn, late turn”

 

SWAY

Defined as the inclination of the bodyline through the leg to the top of the head. Produced from the weight of the swinging leg altering the horizontal line of the pelvis, so as the swinging leg achieves its extension, the line of Sway is seen from the leg through the body to the head. Sway is used to absorb the energy created by the centrifugal force of Swing and to create a changing shape to ”colour” the movement.

Linear Sway is used mainly in Slow Foxtrot where the linear movement requires the Sway to be taken in the line of the movement and not laterally across the line of movement. Also used in figures such as the Side Cross.

a. The Man who must maintain his constant forward poise, is able, through the placing of his knees, to achieve a considerable amount of Sway

Teaching Tip. Consider the Slalom skier who uses his knees to create the inclination of the body to control turns.

b. The Lady who must maintain her constant backward poise will not be able to use her legs in the same way. When she does Sway, it is minimal. If she tries to match the Man she will break at the waist, so the Swing creates rotation and not any strong degree of Sway.

c. The difference between the Man’s and Lady’s use of Sway creates a beautiful body rhythm between the couple, changing the volume of hold and returning to the required minimum on so many figures.

d. Man’s Body Inclination. Although written and referred to as Sway, this is not truly Sway as altering the angle of the knees without using Swing creates the inclination of the body. For example when dancing Line figures. When the body is inclined, the head must remain well poised over the body and not be allowed to drop away, so the line of Inclination is seen from the standing knee to the top of the head.

e. The Lady is not able to incline her body to any degree without breaking at the waist, so she will respond to the Mans shape by rotating from the knee and softly extending her Head Weight to enhance her femininity and the volume of the hold.

f. Metronome Action. Opposite to the pendulum action of Swing. It is the change of body shape from the line of Sway by using Head Weight to create a body inclination in the opposite direction. For example, the change for the Man in the Tumble Turn from the Sway to right on step 2 of the Feather Finish to the Inclination of the body to left on step 4, Open Toe Pivot.

g. The Lady will once again reply to the Man’s action with rotation and use of her Head Weight.

Teaching Tip. During Sway, Body inclination and Metronome action the Man most maintain a forward poise at all times.

 

HEAD WEIGHT

This is an additional subject to those given in the Original Technique. It is mainly the Lady who will enhance the balance, rhythm and shape by extending her Head Weight in the direction suggested by the Man’s body lead. The Man’s Head Weight is essential in creating an ease of movement, in the direction he requires, and to create an emotional quality in the Line Figures. However the line through his head will follow that of his body, creating a powerful and manly expression. When moving to Promenade Position, a slight head weight to left is given. This is felt as a slight turn of the head to left of the normal position and a slight projection of head weight, not a lean or distortion of the posture of his head.

The word Centre is used to qualify the usual position of the head in the normal standing position. However it is recognised that the Lady will have her Head Weight slightly to the left whilst in this position. The Lady has more freedom than the Man in changing from one side to the other, however in the Swing dances, with a few exceptions, this really must feel as a weight change from one side to the other and not as a turn of the head.

Teaching Tip As Lady dance alone an Open Natural Turn from Promenade Position. The eyes will focus on the same spot in the room and you will find that the Head Weight has changed from right to left and has not turned at all. The body has turned to the right under the head.

Many Ladies are able to lay their Head Weight out to an almost horizontal line as they prepare, or actually dance a Line Figure. However it is most important that this is done from the rhythm and shape of the Man’s body lead and the use of her supporting knee. At all times she must endeavour to keep her light contact with the Man through her centre from her pelvis to breast bone.