by Ken & Irene Slater
The Telemark, which means "to turn," is a very popular figure in round dancing, and as such is used to change the directional flow of figures.
The Open Telemark (Telemark to Semi-Closed Position) is the most popular and is commenced with the L foot (heel lead) and generally in the diagonal direction, facing DLC. The man's second step, which is taken on the ball of the R foot, is taken after shaping the body to the left and requires a longer count in waltz; it is a side step, but still in line with the direction of travel of the first step. The end facing direction is DRC. The second step has a hovering feel about it, which relates to the heel turn being done by the lady. The third step, which is taken on the toe and is probably the most critical because it determines the ease of movement into the next group of figures following the Telemark, is taken to the side in a compact SCP. If the step is to the side and slightly forward, right-turning figures should follow. If side and slightly back, left-turning figures should be used, such as a Telespin, etc.
The lady takes her first step back on her R toe using a left-face curving action and shaping to the man; she then draws her L heel back to her R and makes a left-face heel turn with the majority of her weight remaining on the R foot. She must keep her head in a closed-head position as she makes the heel turn. Upon completion of the turn, she turns her head to the right, then steps sideward on her R toe to complete the figure. The lady's ending footwork position must match the man's for ease of entry into the next figure.
The Open Telemark normally commences facing DLC, but can be done from other alignments. The timing for waltz (using a hovering action on step 2) is 1,2,ah/3; (stealing from the third count). For foxtrot, SQQ; (or as I prefer, SS&;). For quickstep, SSS (one and one half measures long). For tango, QQS;
In the Closed Telemark (Telemark to Banjo), the starting position and first step are the same as in the Open Telemark. The second step is the same as the Open Telemark except the lady rotates farther and the man eliminates most of his hovering action. The lady also keeps her body turned toward the man and maintains her closed-head position to match the man throughout the figure. The lady's third step is taken side and slightly back in contra-banjo.
The dance commencing positions and timing remain the same as described in the Open Telemark.
The use of rise and fall in these figures greatly increases their enjoyment.
Originally published in the DRDC Newsletter and in Round Dancer Magazine, March 1992. Reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, March 2013.
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