Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum & Cindy Hadley—
A Waltz Clinic
WALTZ HISTORY: Waltz was once
considered scandalous. It originated in Germany-Austria over 400
years ago among the folk people. The seemingly wild, never-ending
rotations and the extremely close hold of the dancers made it
unseemly to the upper class. But it was too much fun to do, and in
Austria in the 1700’s, especially in Vienna, the gentry adopted it.
Great musicians such as Josef Lanner and Johann Strauss created
wonderful music that made the waltz even more popular. It is said
that Napoleon’s army took the waltz back to France, and then it
spread to England in the early 1800’s. From there it spread to the
rest of the world. The waltz reportedly first came to the United
States in 1834 to the Boston area. Here, by the late 1800's a slower
variant eventually emerged. This slower variant later became popular
in England as well and became the waltz we know and love today. The
original fast version is still being done today in contemporary
ballroom as the “Viennese Waltz.” There are at least two styles
of the “slow” waltz. The English (aka International) Standard
Waltz has only closed figures; that is, the couple never breaks their
embrace. The American Style Waltz, in contrast to the International
Standard Waltz, involves breaking contact almost entirely in some
figures (for example, Roll 3). Round dancing’s waltz is a mix of
both American and English International styles. After World War II,
Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw revived American folk dancing, especially
square and round dancing. The waltz was part of round dancing, which
took ballroom couple dance figures and sequenced them into set
routines to specific songs. Songs and their choreographed round-dance
routines, such as “Tips of My Fingers,” “Could I Have This
Dance,” “Answer Me,” Manuela,” “Castles and Kings,”
“Cavatina,” and “Sam’s Song” were beloved and danced all
over the world. By the 1970s, The International Association of Round
Dance Teachers, Inc., also known as Roundalab, standardized
round-dance waltz figures into six difficulty levels, from phase one
through phase six. Phase one contains the easiest figures such as
Box, Circle Away & Together, and Balance Left & Right; Phase
six contains the most difficult figures such as Big Top, Split Ronde,
and Telespin. Waltz is the only rhythm in round dancing that has
figures in every difficulty level from phase one through phase six.
WALTZ CHARACTERISTICS: The waltz is one
of the most romantic, smooth, and flowing dances that you can
experience. The dance features close contact, beautiful picture
figures, sways, and a rhythmic rise and fall. The first step in most
figures is usually a long gliding one that lowers, the second step is
normal-length and begins the rise, which culminates in the very
short, even closing, third step where the dancer reaches maximum
height before beginning to lower.
Tips for Selected Phase 4 Figures:
DIAMOND TURN :
Turn to BJO after first step –
then stay in BJO for the entire figure.
Maintain good frame in BJO – not
hip to hip; don’t collapse shoulders.
Although it is called a Diamond
Turn it is actually an Octagon.
Third step of each measure is a
crossing step – NOT A CLOSE.
Man’s upper body should stay
upright – not be leaning forward.
Man should rotate upper body
slightly toward partner.
Man should sway slightly toward
Lady keeps toe pointed down toward
floor to start and end.
Lady traces toe up to knee, then
out and up, then lower to floor.
Lady’s toe goes as high as she
can without lady “leaning back.”
Start like doing the first two
steps of a Reverse Turn, but then get up on the toe and hold.
Don’t over-rotate – end in a
good BJO position – not hip to hip.
Draw the free foot in (it can be
used momentarily for balance).
Unlike regular Hover, first and
third steps go in same direction.
Emphasize the hovering second step
by changing the timing, by rushing the first and third steps to give
more time on the second.
Stay in Closed Position at the end
of first measure – not BJO.
Under-turn the first measure and
overturn the second.
If going toward LOD, end in BJO
TELEMARK TO BJO (aka CLOSED TELEMARK):
All three steps are exactly like
Telemark to SCP (aka Open Telemark) except that at the very end the
lady continues turning on her toe to BJO.
Lady heel turn on second step.
Lady begins turning on right heel at end of first step, may turn on
left heel, in any case finishes on left toe.
The above only works if your BJO,
CP, and SCP are in good frame.
Begins with Thru step.
Take a wider than shoulder length
Ends in Reverse Semi-Closed
position (RSCP). Man’s right shoulder and upper body should be
turned left face toward lady – not away from her. Lead hands
should be above heads. End with right sway.
Whisk is “flat” – no rise.
Tips for Selected Phase 5 Figures:
Like a Thru (Semi) Chasse to SCP
but with “ripple.”
On second and third steps go to
RSCP with right sway looking RLOD.
On fourth step, lose sway, look
LOD and go back to SCP.
Like a back turn (in CP or BJO) to
a Right Chasse but with “tipple”.
Tipple is a left-side stretch
(lady right-side stretch) when starting chasse and curving the
chasse to man’s right, ending in CP.
NATURAL HOVER CROSS:
Two measures with timing 123;
First measure is a Cross Pivot to
SCAR. Man maneuvers and then does a pivot 2, ending in SCAR-DLW.
Quickly rock & recover, then
side to CP-LOD, then man crosses right in front of left (XRIFL) and
lady crosses left in back of right to BJO-DLC.
Begin by LOWERING (knees should
bend) first – not forward.
Then move forward with upper body
turn to left (i.e. man does a right shoulder lead).
Feet should align in a single
Legs should feel crossed at the
Move forward enough to put most
weight onto lead foot.
Should have good body contact –
especially at hips.
Lady may stretch out upper body
and head to finish the picture figure.
Begin with a Thru step.
Then quickly rock forward/recover,
and cross in back rising to the whisk.
As you rock forward you can swivel
your hip in toward partner, and then as you recover and cross behind
you can swivel your hip away.
First step is the same as starting
any Reverse Turn figure.
Stay in Closed position for the
whole figure – this really helps.
Man’s second step is straight
through partner in line with first step.
Man’s upper-body rotation and
early rise indicates to the lady to do a heel turn on the second
step. Stay in Closed position.
Man will simply toe turn on the
right foot for the rest of the figure but continue body rotation. He
can momentarily use left foot if needed for balance.
Lady will continue to rotate
left-face with man and when approximately half around place right
foot down to side around man.
Lady’s final step occurs by just
turning left-face and doing a XLIFR.
Tips for Selected Phase 6 Figure:
Begins with a lead to lady to have
her left foot free. This can be a quick rise and lower on right
foot with man extending his left leg forward & side left
indicating to lady to do the same.
Without stopping, the left leg
will flare counter-clockwise to left side and then behind.
As the leg crosses behind, rise
and take weight on left toe rotating body almost half around.
As body finishes the turn, lady
takes an extra step side staying in Closed position with partner.
Finally man will step back while
continuing another 1/8 turn with lady stepping in maintaining Closed
position (i.e. a “slipping” action).
If beginning facing DLC, end
Keep “core” tight (i.e. close
to partner) throughout, and maintain balance by centering your
weight over your own feet.
From clinic notes prepared for the US National Square & Round Dance Convention, 2011; reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, May 2013.