Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum —
A Few Phase VI Smooth
of a “Big Top” as a “Chair with Cross Hesitation action and
Slip.” The Big Top seems for many to be one of the most difficult
figures there are. Perhaps thinking of it in terms of easier figures
can help. If you can do the phase IV figures, Chair and Slip and
Cross Hesitation, you can use that knowledge to do the Big Top.
Start in semi-closed position with trail foot free and on step one do
a chair but instead of checking your motion continue your body motion
forward while also rising. By the end of step one, all weight will
be on the trail foot and you will have already begun the cross
hesitation action and pivoting left face. Men must keep their lead
foot behind them as they pivot and strongly rotate their “top”
left-face. By the time you take your second step you will have
pivoted half way around. The men will put their foot down (i.e., a
cross behind step) while the lady takes her second step forward and
side having picked up and rotated to loose closed position. Rotation
continues as you take the second step. Ladies will momentarily brush
with their left foot after taking their second step. The last step is
a slipping action with the trail foot. Men step back with a ¼ turn
while the lady steps forward slipping into tight closed position.
This figure should be preceded by a figure that allows you enter the
Big Top with a little speed, so that you have sufficient momentum to
complete the toe turn with ease. Both the man and the lady will take
three steps in the Big Top and the first and third steps are taken at
the same time. The man and lady take their second step at different
times. The lady steps first and the man steps second. In waltz, the
timing might be 1, 2, 3, for the man and 1&, ,3 for the lady.
Note that with this timing the second part of the second step lasts a
bit longer like a hovering step. Our clinician also noted that the
lady rises before the man and that the lady has to dance slightly out
of position (not in strict closed position) on the second step. The
lady closes her head (i.e. turns head left) fairly early and holds it
there well to the left throughout the figure. Again the last step is
very much like a slip pivot step.
TUMBLE VERSUS TUMBLE TURN --
The Tumble is a one step movement, and the Tumble Turn is an entire
figure that consists of a Quick (or syncopated) Feather Finish &
characteristics of the Tumble:
It always begins in contra-banjo and always ends in closed position but
with the lady's head open.
It is always done with the lead foot, goes FORWARD, and turns left-face.
It can turn up to 3/8.
Start the step preceding the Tumble low but rise and flow down into the
Tumble. If this step is given a whole beat of music it will seem like a
hover (especially if you have syncopated the two steps before this
third one) but don't stop your motion at the top.
Make sure to keep the lady in front. A common mistake is for the man to
turn independently leaving the lady far to his right and perhaps even
behind him. You must do the left-face turning in the Tumble with proper
frame. If the man holds the lady in a proper frame, it will be
difficult for the lady to turn independently.
The Tumble is like a "lilt" but soft in the knee (and of course
Finish the Tumble on the ball of the foot, and don't settle onto the
The lady begins with her head closed but during the turn of the Tumble
opens her head even though going to closed position. (I believe it is
because there is left sway in the ending position).
Again, the Tumble Turn is a Syncopated Feather Finish to a Tumble.
Waltz timing is 1& 2 3. (A foxtrot option is Q&SQ.)
Lower on 1, stay low on the &, start low on 2 but rise and flow
into the Tumble on 3.
The last step, the Tumble, is like a Slip Pivot step except that the
man is doing the lady's part and the lady is doing the man's part.
If you are familiar with the waltz Top Spin, you'll notice that the
characteristic action is also a left-face turning movement, but the man
always goes BACK out of a Top Spin, and that step is done high with
straight legs, while the man always goes FORWARD into a Tumble and the
step is done low.
Note that you could combine the Tumble with other figures that end in
contra-banjo with trail foot free and moving forward such as :
TRAVELING CONTRA CHECK --
It’s amazing how just modifying a couple things in a phase IV
figure turns it into a phase VI figure, but it is true. So, add
contra body movement to the first step of a Hover Telemark and modify
the second step and there you have a Traveling Contra Check.
Relax in your knees thus lowering, and turn your upper body slightly
left as you take the first forward step. It is “contra” because for man
the left foot and the opposite shoulder (right) is forward.
Instead of taking the second step diagonally forward, simply close R to
L, but as you do, rise up first with left side stretch (lady right
side) as you turn a quarter right-face and then with right side stretch
as you hover up on your toes finishing in SCP.
Do the third and last step just as in the Hover Telemark, which means
you can hold the hovering action on the second step and rush this one
at the very end.
SPLIT RONDE --
man and lady rotate their left leg around in a counter-clockwise
direction. That means that a transition must occur prior to the
figure, and the man must communicate when to transition to the lady.
A little different way to do this is to use a "Ta Ta" step.
This means the man should, at the end of the previous figure, quickly
step on his left foot and back onto his right foot (Ta Ta). The lady
should feel this and can thus time her transition step to the man's
Ta Ta steps. The man might be tempted to rotate his body before he
swings his left leg around. Don't do it. Both man and lady should
begin the leg ronde BEFORE any part of the upper body rotates. The
last step of the Split Ronde is similar to a Slip Pivot step, back
for the man and forward for the lady to closed position.
From reports to the
Discussion List, partially based on clinics presented at the 2007 &
2008 Roundarama Institutes and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance
Council Newsletter, August 2015. Visit
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