Step is a movement of the foot from here to there. A Figure is a
specific sequence of steps forming a set that is complete, is often
standardized, and is widely accepted and used as one component of a
Bolero, Half Moon
by Harold & Meredith Sears
Like the Horseshoe Turn,
the Half Moon is a standard, phase V figure. It takes two measures,
dances SQQ; SQQ; and it turns 1/2 as a couple. It usually begins with
a New Yorker–like action and ends with a Whip action that changes
So, in a facing position, with a R-R
handshake, perhaps man facing COH, we step side R toward LOD
beginning to turn RF with right-side stretch producing a little left
sway (lady steps side L beginning to turn LF with left-side stretch
producing a little right sway). At the end of the first "slow"
count, we are in a slight "V" position opening toward LOD
and looking at partner in a loving sort of way. Notice that the three
styling details that we have listed here, the sway, the "V"
body position, and the "look," all do the same thing. They
all focus your body on that of your partner. Your body is inclined
toward your partner, your torso, your belly button, is aimed more at
your partner than away, and you are seeing your partner. You are
dancing with your partner. As a shorthand, we say you are
"shaped" toward your partner. In bolero, one of our dances
of love, let's do that whenever we can.
For steps 2 and 3 of the first measure,
continue turning RF (lady LF) and step forward L like a New Yorker in
handshake, and recover R (lady recover L) turning to face partner.
In the second measure, we have the lead
feet free. Turn 1/4 LF and step side and fwd L with left side stretch
(lady turns 1/4 RF, steps side and fwd R). Shape toward partner.
During this slow-count, she does not want to get her left arm trapped
under the handshake, so she might raise it to flow gracefully across
in front of her body, above the handshake, or she might raise it
vertically above her head, turning slightly away from partner but
still looking at him. On the fifth step, the man recovers back R,
leading her to step forward L in front of him turning LF 1/2.
Partners have traded sides. On the last step, he steps fwd L turning
1/4 LF to face partner and wall (lady steps back R and turns 1/4 LF
to face partner and COH).
The first boleros that we danced always
began this figure with the man facing COH and ended facing wall. For
instance, in Danny Boy by Weiss (1998), we dance a Forward
Break facing the wall; Right Pass to a handshake COH; Half Moon
breaking first toward LOD; and then bringing the lady across on the
RLOD side of the man to face wall again; This orientation is common,
but the figure certainly doesn't require it.
In Gabriellas sång by Hilpert &
Pohl (2012), we are facing partner and wall with lead feet free. We
dance Riff Turns toward LOD; New Yorker toward LOD; Half Moon;; This
example is a standard Half Moon, but it will feel different because
it initially proceeds toward RLOD. After the New Yorker, we have
trail feet free, so the Half Moon breaks toward RLOD, and during the
second measure the lady moves across in front of the man on his LOD
side. Now the man is facing COH. The choreography continues into
another Half Moon, where we break toward LOD, and, again, this is the
orientation we are more used to.
In Wounded Heart by Worlock
(2003), we are in a handshake position, man facing COH. Progressing
to RLOD, we dance a Cross Body, lady moving across; Man's Cross Body
to handshake COH again; Half Moon;; Given the body flow of this
sequence and the fact that our lead feet are free for the Half Moon,
we dance the figure with the Whip-like action first to face wall and,
second, the New Yorker–like break action to RLOD. The choreography
then continues into a Spot Turn to LOD; Fence Line to RLOD; and Riff
Turns to LOD;
Clearly, the Half Moon is a versatile
piece of choreography. We can begin facing COH or facing wall,
initially progress toward LOD or toward RLOD, and probably other
facing directions as well. We can switch the order of the component
parts and probably even interrupt the figure to tuck additional
choreography between the two parts.
While we're thinking about Moons, let's
take a quick look at the Full Moon (phase VI). It would be
natural for us to hope that the Full Moon is simply two Half Moons,
one after the other, but, no such luck. As you dance these figures,
you do sense a relationship between them, but it is not identical,
not a duplication. The relationship is more that of cousins.
We've seen that the Half Moon is two
measures and about a half turn (e.g., from COH to wall). The Full
Moon is four measures and about a full turn (e.g., from wall around
to wall again). So, in duration, the Full Moon is two Half Moons.
Similarly, the Half Moon usually consists of a lunging action,
followed by a whipping action, and the Full Moon alternates a
whipping measure, a lunging measure, a whip, and a lunge. But in the
details, the relationship gets more distant. In the Half Moon, the
lunging actions are handshake New Yorkers. In the Full Moon, they are
varsouvienne chairs. In the Half Moon, the whipping actions are
fairly standard whips across. In the Full Moon, they are swivel whips
So, in more detail, the Full Moon is a
four-measure figure that turns LF a full turn. It is sort of a
handshake whip to a varsouvienne chair and then repeat. In facing
position, the man often facing wall, with a R-R handshake (and R
hands will remain joined throughout), we step side & forward L
(lady trns RF and steps sd & fwd R) both toward LOD and shaping
toward partner, turning LF step back R (lady fwd L beginning to cross
in front of man toward COH), cont LF turn forward L (lady fwd R
toward COH) bringing R hands up behind lady to lead her to spiral 7/8
LF; In this first measure, the man has whipped her across and she has
spiraled to a shadow position facing COH (SQQ).
In the second measure, the man steps
forward R joining left hands in varsouvienne position COH (lady
continues to turn LF and steps fwd L facing COH), forward L (lady fwd
R) with a small, chair-like lunge, he releases left hands and steps
back R (lady bk L beginning to turn RF); At this point, the man is
facing COH and the lady is in the process of turning and her
shoulders may be facing LOD or even DLW (SQQ).
In the third measure, the man steps
back L beginning to turn 1/8 LF and preparing for another whip-like
action. The lady continues to turn and steps small forward R toward
DLW at the man's right side, and continues to turn in a
hip-twist-like way, brushing her L foot to her R until she is facing
DRC. This is tricky. Notice that her third step of the second measure
was back L toward the wall, turning, and her first step of the third
measure was forward R, almost toward wall again, still turning. Over
these two steps, she has turned at least 3/4 RF. Now, the man
continues his LF turn and steps back R toward LOD (lady fwd L turning
LF). He continues his LF turn and steps forward L bringing R hands up
behind lady to lead spiral (lady fwd R spiraling 7/8 LF); In this
third measure, the man has whipped her across and she has spiraled to
a shadow position facing wall (SQQ).
In the fourth measure, the man steps
forward R toward the wall joining left hands in varsouvienne position
again (lady continues her LF turn and steps fwd L toward the wall),
forward L (lady fwd R) with the little chair-like, lunging feel, back
R releasing left hands (lady bk L beginning to turn RF);
As in many bolero figures, we do not
end this figure at any kind of stopping point but are flowing into
another hip-twist-like figure.
For instance, in Feel My Love by
Worlock (2008), we are in handshake position, man facing partner and
wall. We do a Full Moon around to the wall again;;;; Hip Twist
overturned to a Facing Fan LOD; to a Forward Break. In On Days
Like These by Preskitt (2011), there is a Spot Turn; Contra
Break; Full Moon;;;; Hip Twist to a Fan; to a Hockey Stick.
Finally, in One Moment In Time
by Worlock (2012), we dance a Horse & Cart; lady out to the wall
& face, right handshake, lead feet free; start a Full Moon to
Varsou COH; break as normal; Cross Body to the wall; Half Moon to
RLOD; Lady Syncopated Inside Turn 5 toward LOD; Horseshoe Turn to
LOD; and around to face wall again. With this little sequence, we
come full circle in our recent discussion: We dance part of a Full
Moon, blend to a Half Moon, and then into a Horseshoe Turn. These
three are characteristic and delightful bolero figures.
Versions of this article were published in Footnotes In the Round, LRDTA,
November/December 2011; in Round Notes, Colorado Round
Dance Association, Dec 2011/Jan 2012; and in Dixie Round Dance Association (DRDC) Newsletter, December 2012.
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