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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—

Make Your Crossing Steps More Comfortable

How often and in how many different ways do we encounter a XIF (cross in front), Side, XIF series of steps in round dancing?

First, any time you do a crossing step, twist your lower body to make the cross easier.

Crossing steps are defined in phase I two step. You can cross in only four ways. You can cross your left foot in front of the right. You can cross your left foot in back of the right. Or you can cross the right foot either in front or in back of the left. If you do not turn your body at all, your legs will feel awkward as they cross and you will be standing there looking like someone who needs to heed the call of nature. If you turn your whole body, it will make the crossing step feel more like a forward step (if crossing in front) or a backward step (if crossing behind), which is much easier to do. However, doing this also makes you lose contract with your partner. Try keeping your shoulders and upper body facing your partner while you turn just the lower body to do the crossing step. This allows for the same ease of step as turning the whole body did but without losing contact with partner.

Note that crossing steps are used in other figures such as vines, scissors, fishtail, cross hovers, crab walks, sailor shuffles, etc. Master this at phase I and you have a body technique that will serve you well for many figures, even those at higher levels.

SUSIE Q (Two Step) — Do a XIF, Side, XIF, Flare to one side and then XIF, Side, XIF coming back.

The Susie Q is a rarely done figure. So rare that even experienced dancers balk when they hear it cued. But it is a Roundalab standard phase 3 two-step figure. Normally start in Butterfly and with lead foot going to RLOD, do a XIF, Side, XIF and then flare the trail foot from behind towards partner and thru to begin the second half of the Susie Q which starts with the trail foot and goes XIF, Side, XIF towards LOD. Note that you can “twist” as you do the Susie Q by staying on your toes. Turn your hips in the direction of the crossing foot when crossing and in the opposite direction when stepping side. The steps in the Susie Q are really small.

CRAB WALK (Rumba) — XIF, Side, XIF, -; but with rumba styling.

Unlike the Susie Q, the Crab Walk in rumba is a very commonly done figure. This figure most often starts with the crossing step in front and does go XIF, Side, XIF, - ; However, if the Crab Walks are extended into another measure you would continue by going Side, XIF, Side, -; In rumba, hip motion is more emphasized, and so the side step here is a normal size one (not the tiny one in the Susie Q) to allow the latin motion to occur. You can still “twist” a little on the crossing steps.

FRENCH CROSS (West Coast Swing) — Side/XIF, Side with turning action throughout.

The French Cross is another of those “you never taught that to us" kind of term. It is rarely used and almost never cued. But the lady does it often as part of the west-coast figure “[Reverse] Underarm Turn.” After her two forward steps, the lady does the French Cross by stepping forward with right foot turning left face, then crossing her left foot in front of her right while continuing to turn left, and finally she steps side and back finishing her turn to face partner, and then she does the anchor or coaster step to finish the Underarm Turn. The French Cross is similar to the extended part of Crab Walk where the first step is Side before crossing.

CROSS CHASSE (Slow Two Step) — XIF, - , Sd, XIF;

This is a new unphased figure (approximately phase IV) that has shown up in some recent dances like “The Rose”. Note that although it is like a Crab Walk, the timing here is slow quick quick. In Slow Two Step you do not do latin motion but instead “travel” more by taking longer steps. One side note is that the quicstep Cross Chasse is a totally different figure (It is a fwd, -, fd, cl; XIF, ).

Tim Eum originally prepared these Tips for
Calls 'n' Cues, (WASCA);
reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council
(DRDC) Newsletter, June 2010



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