Meredith & Harold

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Floorcraft

by Harold & Meredith Sears

Round dancers are usually easy-going and peaceful. But occasionally, a couple can become either thoughtlessly or exuberantly unaware of the effect of their behavior on others. They are focused on their own dancing, a bit blind to those around them, and they can really start scaring the women and children (so to speak). Recently, a couple (out of state, but still . . . ) actually ran into a friend of ours and knocked her to the floor. Obviously, this was much more than a matter of etiquette. There could have been serious injury.

Floorcraft is the skill to dance among other couples without hitting them or intruding into their personal space. It is the ability to adapt your dance style to that of the floor so that everyone feels comfortable and unthreatened. One with good floor craft is like a courteous, defensive driver, as compared to a texting, aggressive driver that tailgates and then swoops in to cut you off in front.

Here is a top-ten list of ballroom rules to help us be a little less wrapped up in our own thing and a little more aware of other dancers and their feelings and well-being. Not all relate specifically to round dancing, but the focus on consideration certainly does.

  1. Travel in two-lanes counter-clockwise around the floor. This is called the line-of-dance. Avoid frequent lane changes.

  2. Use the rest of the floor, that is, the inner floor or center floor, for spot patterns, practice and alternative dances (e.g. Swing during Foxtrot, Jive during Quickstep).

  3. Do not travel through the center.

  4. Do not travel or step back against the line-of-dance. A couple of back steps by the leader are possible by turning and dancing in the line-of-dance. However, the leader must first check if space and traffic permit this maneuver.

  5. Keep moving in the line of dance. Do not stop suddenly, practice, or do spot patterns that hold up traffic (other than quick turning patterns that finish in the line-of-dance) in the travel lanes.

  6. If you feel like doing a spot pattern, move to center-floor, finish the pattern and then move back into the travel lanes (when there is an opening). See spot dancing below for spot pattern or spot dancing floor craft tips.

  7. Avoid overtaking. Use rocking or other types of hesitation steps (such as Cadencia steps in Tango), and wait patiently for the travel to resume. DO NOT push or elbow your way past the blockage. When someone is stubbornly holding up traffic and overtaking is necessary to help maintain flow, move to the next lane only if there is an opening in that lane's traffic.

  8. Men must protect the lady against collisions and must never place the lady in a position where she can get hurt by others.

  9. Do not invade another couple's space. Do not tail-gate. Give other couples enough space to execute normal patterns.

  10. Do not focus on completing a pattern if a collision can result - or if completing a pattern can result in invading someone's space. Learn to adapt patterns to what the traffic permits.


From the Heritage Institute. Published in Round Notes (CRDA), October/November 2015.




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