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The Telemark In Retrospect

by Roy & Phyllis Stier

March, 1988 

It is an interesting study to look at the evolution of dance figures, not in the sense of Darwinism, but more as the trade will allow. A good example is the Telemark, or more specifically, the Open Telemark. 

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Back in the early days of round dancing, the Kuglers presented DANCE, DANCE, DANCE, long since a classic, but most innovative at that time because it was the first attempt at pure International waltz. Do you recognize the head cues M ACROSS, TURN, FWD;? How about the step cues — M takes a long, reaching step diag twd LOD and slightly twd COH on L, steps directly in front of W on R cont to turn L to take momentary CP facing RLOD, steps to R side twd COH on L ft cont L turn to end facing LOD in SCP, while W takes a short step bwd in LOD, closes L ft to R turning 1/2 L into momentary CP facing LOD, and steps fwd twd LOD on R into SCP facing LOD;? 

Next we see the Palmquist International waltz clinic routine develop into the classic ANSWER ME. The cue sheet reflects a less cautious attitude but still under wraps because of the clientele. Head cues: (Telemark to SCP) TRN LF, AROUND, SCP (fac wall); The step cues: (Telemark to SCP) CP fac LOD Fwd L trning 1/4 LF to fac COH, M sid R twd LOD slightly around W leaving L leg extended, M trns LF on ball of R ft keeping L toe on floor to SCP fac wall, fwd L in SCP (W steps bk R bringing L to R taking no weight on L, trn LF on R heel transferring wt to L, fwd R in SCP twd wall); 

Since that time, we can talk about changes in alignment and more specific references to body mechanics without unduly upsetting the dancers, now more prone to emulate the ballroom folks. If we were to describe our Telemark figure in "modern" terms, it would go something like this: Head cues — OPEN TELEMARK. Step cues — (CP DC) Fwd L from heel to toe start LF trn, sid R on toe DC still trng LF lift R sid with long ct, sid  & slightly fwd L on toe in compact SCP point DW with body fac wall (Lady bk R DC toe to heel start L trn, bring L to R for heel trn fac LOD rise to toe lifting L sid, diag fwd R on toe pointing LOD with R shoulder lead); Note: use slow opening of head for both on step 3. 

The above would probably not be presented in as much detail because we assume such things as sway, long count 2, head opening and deceleration of rotary action, however, it is evident that the Open Telemark is not as simple a figure as we used to consider it but belongs in a more advanced category. We must also point out that there are 3 degrees of turn according to the figure that follows, a consideration not normally noted in a cue sheet. In any event, we can safely say that we have come a long way in describing, as well as executing, many figures that were once only shadowy movements to the early round dancers.

This column comes from a series published in Cue Sheet Magazine between 1987 and 1992, and is reprinted with permission. The full series is collected in an 86-pg booklet, available for $30.00 plus postage. E-mail Fran Kropf at This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)  Newsletter, March 2009.


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