Splash – Waltz Class (October 30, 2011)

Open Waltz: The Basic

Six steps on six beats, even timing. 1-2-3-4-5-6.

This is simply walking in waltz time, starting on opposite feet: his left and her right, or his right and her left (both on inside feet, or both on outside feet). Every step is on the balls of your feet, rather than flat-footed.

Optional (But Highly Recommended) Styling: Accent the first beat, by making it longer and lower and making the second two beats shorter and even higher on balls of your feet, i.e. Down-Up-Up and Long-Short-Short.

There are many things you can do in this position: turns for both people in both directions, free spins, rollaways. We gave both people several turns.

 

Cross Step Waltz: The Basic

Six steps on six beats, even timing. 1-2-3-4-5-6.

Leads: 1 – Cross step with right foot in front of left. 2 – Side step left. 3 – Replace right. 4 – Cross step with left foot in front of right. 5 – Side step right. 6 – Replace left.

Follows: Same as lead, just shifted three counts, i.e. 1 – Cross step with left foot in front of right. 2 – Side step right. 3 – Replace left. 4 – Cross step with right foot in front of left. 5 – Side step left. 6 – Replace right.

Follower’s Solo

The lead crosses on 1, and plants his feet there, while leading the follow to continue doing the basic step. If the follow is comfortable doing the step on her own, the lead can let go with his right hand and lead her back and forth using only his left hand, giving her more room to play. The lead can rejoin the follow on any count 1 and go back to the basic.

Follows: You have a choice: you can continue with the basic step, or can add various embellishments, such as: Sweeps (Cross left on 1, then sweep the right foot around in a continuous motion to the cross on 4, then sweep the left foot around in a continuous motion to cross on 1, etc), Touches (Cross left on 1, touch (without weight) right foot right on 2, hold 3, cross right on 4, touch (without weight) left foot on 5, hold 6, etc), Kicks (Like Touches, except that you kick your touching foot back, as if kicking your behind, on 3 and 6).

Leads: You have no control over what she does in Follower’s Solo. You just get to watch your beautiful partner dance. Unfortunately, you don’t get to do the fancy Follower’s Solo steps yourself, unless you learn to follow, which I highly recommend.

Slightly Turning Basic

Do the basic step, but this time, the whole couple turns a little bit clockwise each time. Start small, and work your way up to whatever degree of turning feels comfortable. (Eventually, the idea will be to travel by turning 180° each time, but we’ll save that for later.)

Toss Across (a.k.a. Flip Flops)

On 1, let go of the leading hand, and do the primary cross step in an open (almost side-by-side) position, with lead’s right and follow’s left arms around each other’s shoulders, other hands free. On the secondary cross step, do the opposite, in open position with lead’s left and follow’s right arms around each other’s shoulders. On both sides, the lead’s arm is below the follow’s. Retrieve leading hands for one of the primary cross steps to return to the basic.

Now that we can cross step waltz comfortably in place, let’s make it travel a bit.

Zig Zag

Footwork is the same as the basic, except the lead gently steers the follow to overturn so that the cross steps in front actually travel diagonally back toward line of direction. He does this while still pulling her forward to cross in front, rather than pushing her backward, as that makes the cross steps very hard. His cross steps travel diagonally forward. Steer carefully.

Waltz Walk

We can also travel simply by walking. Take the primary cross step, then continue walking forward, tightening up the frame and clearly pointing the hands toward line of direction. The follow can have an optional outside turn on 4-5-6. To get back to the basic, lead a clear primary cross, side, replace on 1-2-3, and a clear secondary cross step back against line of direction on 4-5-6.

Now that can dance cross step waltz in place, and travel around the room, let’s explore a different kind of basic waltz step, the box step.

 

Box Step Waltz – Basic Box Step

Six steps on six counts, even timing. 1-2-3-4-5-6.

Face partner squarely, feet slightly offset. Feet from the lead’s left: lead’s left, follow’s right, lead’s right, follow’s left on four parallel tracks.

Leads: 1 – Step forward into partner with left foot. 2 – Step right with right foot. 3 – Close up with left foot. 4 – Step back away from partner with right foot. 5 – Step left with left foot. 6 – Close up with right foot.

Follows: Same as the lead, just shifted three counts, i.e., 1 – Step back away from partner with right foot. 2 – Step left with left foot. 3 – Close up with right foot. 4 – Step forward into partner with left foot. 5 – Step right with right foot. 6 – Close up with left foot.

Turning Box

Same as the basic, except the whole couple turns counterclockwise. Step diagonally forward to the left, diagonally back to the right. Start small, and work your way up to whatever degree of turning feels comfortable.

Quarter Turning Box

Same as the Turning Basic, but make it neater by turning 90° in three counts, returning to the same orientation at the end of a full box.

Traveling Box (Straight)

Similar to the basic, except the the lead steps forward on both 1 and 4, the follow steps back on both 1 and 4. Travels forward (for the lead), backward (for the follow). Get into it with a clear lead into the follow on any 4, get out of it with a clear lead into the lead on 4. Steer carefully.

Traveling Box (Serpentine), a.k.a. Back Zig Zag

Similar to the straight traveling box, except the lead steps forward with a cross-step in front, crossing outside of the follow’s feet. The follow steps backward with a cross-step in back, parallel to the lead’s cross step. Get into it with a clear body lead for the cross step on 1, get out of it by crossing on 4 then collecting feet and facing your partner squarely on 5-6 to go straight forward on 1. Steer carefully.

Waltz Walk

We can also travel simply by walking. Finish a full box step, then start walking perpendicular to the frame (lead’s left), tightening up the frame, clearly pointing the hands toward line of direction. The follow can have an optional outside turn on 1-2-3. To get back to the basic, lead the follow around in front on 4-5-6, and lead a clear box step on count 1.

Now that we know how to dance in place and travel with both cross step and box step waltz, let’s see how we can transition between them.

Transitions Between Box Step and Cross Step

To transition from box step waltz to cross step waltz, dance half of a box while loosening the frame and preparing to lead a clear cross step on count 4. Make it a clear body lead pulling forward. Now you’re dancing cross step waltz, shifted three counts (starting 4-5-6, rather than 1-2-3).

To transition from cross step waltz to box step waltz, dance half of a cross step waltz basic while firming up the frame and preparing to lead a clear box step on count 4. It helps if you make it a turning box step, as the CCW turning action rarely happens in cross step waltz and alerts the follow that something different is happening. Now you’re dancing box step waltz, shifted three counts (starting 4-5-6, rather than 1-2-3).

We can also transition between the waltzes by transitioning from one dance into waltz walk, and then out of waltz walk into the other dance.

It’s also perfectly acceptable, if not quite as elegant, to stop, wait for the next count 1, and start the other dance.

For waltz practice music, see Dancing Tunes – Cross-Step Waltz and Dancing Tunes – Slow Waltz.

Splash – Line Dance Class (October 29, 2011)

Conga Line (1930s)

Music: Hot Hot Hot by Buster Poindexter

As a warmup, we did a conga line, simply walking in a line and following whatever the person in front of you does.

Then we proceeded to move through time, learning several popular line dances from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, and one invented just this year, before circling back to the 19th century to learn a waltz mixer.

The Time Warp (1975)

Music: Time Warp (Glee Cast Version) by Glee Cast, or Time Warp (Movie Version) from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Other than the portions of the song where the narrator dictates the moves, this is pretty free form, but here’s what you need to know.

“It’s just a jump to the left.” – It’s just a jump to the left on the beat after this line, with hands on hips (narrator), or while throwing hands into the air (Transylvanians).

“And a step to the right.” – Right foot touches out to the right three times, hands flaring out each time. Hold the last one.

“Put your hands on your hips.” – Circle yours hands up into the air and around to your hips.

“Bring your knees in tight.” – Pigeon-toe your knees together.

“Pelvic thrust.” – Hips forward and back, forward and back, either slowly (early chorus), or double time (later chorus).

“Insaaaaane.” – Hips circle counterclockwise (early chorus), or clockwise (later chorus).

You can do many things on the “let’s do the time warp” line. I like this particular variation, which isn’t in either of the videos (original, or Glee version – I picked it up on youtube), but it feels good, and is certainly in the spirit of the dance.

First time:

“Let’s” – Right arm up diagonally.

“Do” – Left arm up diagonally.

“Time” – Right arm down to left hip.

“Warp” – Left arm down to right hip.

“Again” – Circle hands back up to diagonals.

Second time:

“Let’s” – Right arm down to left hip.

“Do” – Left arm down to right hip.

“Time” – Right arm up diagonally.

“Warp” – Left arm up diagonally.

“Again” – Lower hands down to sides.

The Bus Stop (1976)

Music: Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry

Starting on right foot.

Four steps back, fourth is a closing closing touch with a clap.

Four steps forward, fourth is a closing closing touch with a clap.

Four steps back, fourth is a closing closing touch with a clap.

Four steps forward, fourth is a closing closing touch with a clap.

Step right, cross back left, step right, close left and clap.

Step left, cross back right, step left, close right and clap.

Step right, pivot 180° and step left, pivot 180° and step right, close left and clap.

Step left, pivot 180° and step right, pivot 180° and step left, close right and clap.

Jump forward, hands up.

Jump forward, hands up.

Do it again, double time.

Chicken arms.

Touch right foot front and back (slow), front and back and side close (fast) and turn 90° CCW, step back right to start from the top.

The Saturday Night Fever Dance (1977)

Music: Night Fever by Bee Gees

Starting on right foot.

Four steps back, fourth is a closing closing touch with a clap.

Four steps forward, fourth is a closing closing touch with a clap.

Four steps back, fourth is a closing closing touch with a clap.

Four steps forward, fourth is a closing closing touch with a clap.

Step right, pivot 180° and step left, pivot 180° and step right, close left and clap.

Step left, pivot 180° and step right, pivot 180° and step left, close right and clap.

Kick ball change, kick ball change, sugar foot four times.

Disco arm four times.

Revolve arms around each other. Chicken arms with heel click on fourth beat.

Touch right foot front, back, side, close and turn 90° CCW, step back right to start from the top.

The Chicken Dance (1981)

Music: Chicken Dance by Roman Holiday Ensemble

In a circle.

Four chicken beak hands.

Four chicken arms.

Four tail wiggles.

Four claps.

Repeat four times.

Take hands in circle, and revolve clockwise. Reverse, revolve counterclockwise.

The Macarena (1994)

Music: Macarena (River Remix) by Los del Río

Right hand out in front, palm down. Left hand out in front, palm down.

Turn right hand palm up. Turn left hand palm up.

Right hand to left shoulder, left hand to right shoulder.

Right hand behind head. Left hand behind head.

Right hand to left hip. Left hand to right hip.

Right hand to rear. Left hand to rear.

Rotate hips counterclockwise.

Jump to turn 90° counterclockwise.

Repeat.

Tokyo Polka (2011)

Music: Levan Polka by Otomania & MIKU

Invented by Richard Powers this year.

Left Foot Heel Toe, Side Close Side Diagonal Forward Left, Right Foot Heel Toe, Side Close Side Diagonal Forward Right

Cross Over Left to Right Side, Replace Right, Side Close Side Back, Pivot 180° and Side Close Side Back, Rock Step

Cross Over Left to Right Side, Replace Right, Side Close Side Left, Cross Over Right to Left Side, Side Close Side Right

Side Close Side to with Left Foot Forward, Pivot 180° and Side Close Side with Right Foot Forward, Paddle Turn Clockwise 360° (to Face the Left Wall)

Spanish Waltz (19th Century)

Music: Over Sjo Och Land by American Cafe Orchestra

In Sets of Four, One Couple Facing Other Couple LOD, One Couple Facing Other Couple Reverse LOD

Intro) Honor Partners

1) With R-to-L Hands, Balance Forward and Back on First Foot

2) Leads Turn Opposite Follow Outside Turn, All Using Inside Hands*

3 to 8) Repeat 1 & 2 Four Times Total Until Back in Place

9 to 10) All Right Hand Star (360°) with CW Turn on Fourth Bar to…**

11 to 12) All Left Hand Star (360°)

13 to 16) Waltz Around the Set, then to Next Set (Forward from Starting Direction)***

We didn’t get to any variations, but here are variations for each section:

*Or two hand turn both hands up (Dishrag), or two hands left up, right down (Cradle)

**Or CCW Turn on Fourth Bar, or All Face In, Hop-Side-Close (Right Foot, then Left Foot)

***Wheel Around in Skater’s Position (Lead’s Left Shoulders Together), or Rotary Waltz, or…

For more choreographed dances, see Dancing Moves – Choreographed Dances.

For more choreographed dance music, see Dancing Tunes – Choreographed Dances.

The Basics

Closed Position

Generally speaking, closed position means this:

Leads: Place your right hand on the follow’s back, near the left shoulder blade. Take the follow’s right hand in your left hand.

Follows: Place your left hand on the lead’s right shoulder. Place your right hand in the lead’s left hand.

However…

In social dance, as opposed to exhibition and competitive dance, you are free to do whatever is comfortable and functional. In addition, the most comfortable and functional hand placement will vary based on the dance. For example, in a dance in which the partners share weight, the follow will likely want to place her hand on the back of the lead’s shoulder. In a dance with lots of outside turns and free spins, however, the follow will likely want to place her hand on top of the lead’s shoulder, to prevent it from getting caught behind his back. Sometimes, as in cross step waltz, you’ll want a flexible frame. Other times, as in pivots, you’ll want a solid square one. You get the idea – just make it feel good.

Noodle Arms

In almost every social dance context, noodle arms are a particularly uncomfortable and dysfunctional phenomenon. Take your partner in closed position, and test your partner for noodle arms by moving your leading hand (lead’s left, follow’s right).

Does your partner’s arm flop around like a noodle, or does it give appropriate resistance to your movement? Will a deliberate movement of your arm translate into a deliberate lead, or will the lead simply be lost in the noise?

For a sense of the resistance we are looking for, give your partner a double high five at shoulder level, and lean into your partner, so you are sharing each other’s weight. Now go back to closed position, and put that kind of solidity into your closed position frame.

Inside Turns and Outside Turns

Take your partner in a two hand hold, right to left and left to right.

Bring your hands into the frame: we’ll call a turn in which the hands pass in through the frame an inside turn.

Now bring your hands out of the frame: we’ll call a turn in which the hands pass out of the frame an outside turn.