A Turn Like No Other
& Dan Finch
refer to “heel turns” often in smooth dancing, to designate a
compact form of turn with its own technique. It is predominantly a
woman’s action, but men have their own version—the back turn of
an impetus, the heel pivot and heel pull—which we will deal with in
waltz, most turns—left turns and maneuver—require Lady to step
back, side and close. But the telemark to semi is a left turn that
requires her to step back, close her feet, then step forward. In
foxtrot, where passing feet are the norm, she has heel turns not only
in the open telemark but also in the half natural, the full reverse
turn and double reverse spin.
part is to step back, keeping her right shoulder back so she doesn’t
start the turn too early, and not close her feet on her own. Let the
man do it! If he dances the figure correctly, he will have “early
rise” and then “cut her off”—two actions that will close her
feet and cause the turn.
rise? Where is that written? Round dancing attempts to keep it simple
for those who don’t have a background of dance training, so the
manuals mainly focus on where to put your feet. But even in the
ballroom technique manuals, you have to understand “early rise”
to know it when you read it. In waltz, the ballroom books describe
the first step of a figure as “commence to rise” at the end of
step one. Where early rise is intended, the description changes to
“rise” at the end of step one.
he rises going to a straight leg, that rise will create an upward
impulse for his partner, causing her to bring her feet together.
Ladies complain they are pushed off a heel turn. That occurs because
men have used the standard formula for rise, moving more forward than
up, thus pushing their partners to step back with feet apart.
lady will be so busy responding to the early rise that she will not
notice that her rise is through the leg with “no foot rise.” She
steps back on the ball of her right foot, going to a flat foot (on
the slow count) and controlling her left foot by pulling it to her
right. Her turn is done mostly on the heel of the right foot and is
completed before she takes weight to the left at the end of the first
quick. Where she places her third step (the amount of rotation) is
controlled by how much turn the man chooses—2/8ths of a turn for an
open telemark, 3/8ths for a reverse turn, more for a double reverse
spin. The heel turn part of any figure will always be the same. Men
must not be in a hurry to turn until his partner’s heel turn is set
up. Ladies must remember they are using 21⁄2 beats of music to make
the turn on the heel of the right foot. Take your time before you
transfer weight, and no turn on the toes (that would be a toe turn,
which has its own place—elsewhere).
From a club
newsletter prepared by Dan
and Sandi Finch , December
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, September 2015.
If you would like to read other articles on dance
position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit
the article TOC.
If you are not a member of DRDC,
do consider joining. The group sponsors triquarterly weekends with
dancing and teaching, and the newsletter is one of the most informative
Past DRDC Educational Articles archived here.
Aditional articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
& Susie Rotscheid
Go beyond this site. Find other references on our Sources and Links