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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—

Two-Step Scissors

Scissors to SCAR and BJO

Often the first time a dancer encounters Sidecar or Banjo positions is when they learn the figure  "Scissors". It seems simple enough: Side, Close, Cross (man in front, lady in back), - ; However, there are some things that dancers can do to make the figure smoother and more elegant. The first tip is to start in a good closed position -- i.e., have a good upper frame. Check this by turning the upper body left and then right and see if the arms, shoulders, chest, and head of both the man and the woman all move as one unit. Start the Scissors with a side and then a close with quick-quick timing. Now for the second tip -- turn the hips and lower body right face to make the third step which crosses to man's right easier. Then actually do the third and last crossing step (with slow timing). If starting in CP Wall and with lead foot free, you can do a Scissors to end in SCAR facing RLOD. Note that you should have been able to do the footwork for the Scissor without having to change anything in the "upper frame".  The upper frame in SCAR is the same as it was in CP and this is a KEY point --- man's head should still be looking over lady's RIGHT shoulder and lady's head should still be looking to her LEFT. It is very, very common for dancers to break frame and turn their head to look over the closest shoulder instead. To look more elegant, do the Scissors by maintaining upper body frame to include head position when changing from CP to SCAR.

The same is true when you do the Scissor to BJO. Often after doing a Scissor to SCAR you immediately start with the trail foot free and do a Scissor to BJO. From SCAR the couple turns momentarily to CP (note how keeping the CP upper frame in SCAR makes going back to CP easier), then steps side and close, and then finishes with the man crossing in front and the lady crossing in back ending in BJO. Again, you should have maintained the upper body frame so that the upper body frame in BJO is not very much different than that in closed position.

One last tip -- when in SCAR or BJO the lady's hip should be in front of the man's hip -- not off to the side. If you have maintained a good upper body frame, this almost happens automatically -- as you turn from CP to SCAR the lady will simply shift from man's right side to his left but still keeping the same distance in front of him. If the lady ends up "hip to hip" not only does this collapse the upper body frame, but this collapse causes the man's arm to almost contact the lady's neck and "choke" her. Avoid this by keeping her in front and in good upper body frame.

Proper SCAR and BJO positions should be taught to all dancers when they first learn these positions. They should learn from the very beginning to dance them correctly instead of learning years later that what they were permitted to do in beginners class was incorrect and now they have to work to change.

Progressive Scissors

The Progressive Scissors is a key figure for new round dancers to learn – it is the first figure that most encounter that progresses along the “diagonals” instead of going straight to LOD, Wall, Center of Hall, or RLOD. If taught correctly, it can also ingrain into dancer’s memory how it feels to hold upper body frame constant even when changing from CP to SCAR and from SCAR to BJO.

Progressive Scissors usually begins facing LOD and usually begins in CP with lead foot free. Start with a side to man’s left (lady’s right) and then close with trail foot. Here’s a key tip --- turn only the lower half of the body to face the diagonal (i.e. turn 1/8 right face only with hips, legs, and feet) – keep the upper body the same – still facing LOD – with lady’s head still turned left and man’s head still looking over lady’s right shoulder. In this position take the third step of the Progressive Scissors by stepping forward with the lead foot (lady steps back) – however, because of the way the body is “turned”, these steps are more accurately described as “crossing in front” for the man and “crossing in back” for the lady. Note that the ending position is SCAR going along the diagonal between LOD and Wall (i.e. DLW).

It is most common after having done one Progressive Scissor to do a second Progressive Scissor starting in SCAR-DLW with the trail foot free. Begin with a side to man’s right (lady’s left) and then close with lead foot. Here again is the key – turn only the lower half of the body to face the diagonal (i.e. turn 1/4 left face only with hips, legs, and feet) – keep the upper body the same – still facing LOD – with lady’s head still turned left and man’s head still looking over lady’s right shoulder – except note that now you will be in BJO position going toward diagonal LOD and COH (i.e. DLC). In this position take the third step of the Progressive Scissor by stepping forward with the lead foot (lady steps back) – again more correctly described as XIF for man and XIB for lady.

Try it. Doing the Progressive Scissors as described above will have you changing from CP to SCAR to BJO without changing your upper body frame’s alignment at all --- and it will appear as if you and partner are gliding across the floor effortlessly. If this is learned early in a dancer’s development, it not only gives practice with maintaining frame when dancing, but also with concepts such as “contra body movement position” that will help with other figures at the upper phases of round dancing.

Tim Eum has prepared many Round Dance Tips for Calls 'n' Cues, WASCA, for his weekly Rocket Rounds email reports, and for other publications. DRDC is grateful for permission to collect and reprint. A Tim Eum archive.



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