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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—

Two Advanced Foxtrot Figures That Each Contain A Feather Finish

Top Spin – (Phase 5 Foxtrot)

The Top Spin in foxtrot is much easier than the Top Spin in waltz so it behooves the dancer to learn it in foxtrot first. In the classic phase 4+2 foxtrot by the Blackfords “Rainbow Foxtrot” you flow into a Top Spin with the following sequence: Maneuver; Closed Impetus; Feather Finish into a; Top Spin ; In the popular phase 4+2 foxtrot by the Finchs “Sam’s New Pants” you do the Top Spin twice in a row and it is cued Double Top Spin. Note that you flow into the Top Spin – that is because this is one of the few figures that you must actually begin in the last half beat of the previous figure. What does that mean? Consider that in “Rainbow Foxtrot” the figure before the Top Spin is a Feather Finish, which starts in closed position. We dance back (fwd for lady) with trail foot, - , side left (right for lady), and XRif (lady XLib) to BJO. If you began the Feather Finish facing DLW you end facing DLC with lead foot free.

If the next figure is the Top Spin, the key action occurs immediately after taking weight onto the third step of the Feather Finish --- i.e., turn your hips and upper body frame left face (LF) causing you to swivel about 1/8 to 1/4 as a couple staying in banjo. As the couple swivels in this Top Spin action, the man carries his left foot behind him while the lady lets her right foot stay in front of her left as she swivels LF. The timing for this figure previous to the Top Spin is SQQ&, where in this case the Feather Finish is done on the SQQ and the Top Spin action is done on the &-count just before the next measure.

After the Top Spin action done in the previous measure, there are just four steps to complete the Top Spin figure --- back left, back right, side turning LF, XRif still in BJO (lady’s steps are opposite). Stay in BJO for the entire figure. You might recognize these last four steps as also being a Weave Ending. Thus a Top Spin in foxtrot is simply a Weave Ending preceded by the Top Spin action. Just as a Weave Ending usually turns between 1/4 and 3/8 LF (it can turn more), so does the last four steps of the Top Spin. The timing for these last four steps is a simple QQQQ, one step per beat. So the timing for the entire Top Spin is written as &; QQQQ;

Note that the Double Top Spin is easier than a single Top Spin because you turn less in the Double Top Spin. When you do two Top Spins in a row, i.e., the Double Top Spin you only need to turn each Top Spin figure one half, whereas a single Top Spin usually turns at least 5/8 and often 3/4 or even 7/8 as in “Rainbow Foxtrot.”

Here’s a tip – if you must turn the Top Spin figure a lot, don’t overturn the Top Spin action -- still only turn the Top Spin action 1/8 to 1/4 LF -- make up the rest of the turn by overturning in the four steps of the Weave Ending part of the Top Spin figure. It will feel much more comfortable this way.

Tumble Turn (Phase 6 Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep)

The Tumble Turn is four steps that can be described essentially as a “Feather Finish in 3 steps rising, followed by a forward Left Pivot lowering in one step.” It starts in CP or BJO (perhaps it could also start in SCAR), goes through BJO on the third step, and finishes in CP after the fourth step. Thus from starting position (usually facing DRW) the man steps back (lady forward) with trail foot turning LF, then the man steps side and forward (lady side and back) with lead foot toward LOD continuing LF turn, then man steps forward (lady back) to BJO (generally to DLW) with trail foot rising up onto the toe still continuing LF turn, and finally steps forward (lady back) with lead foot toward DLC quickly lowering and pivoting LF to end in CP DRC. You can turn this even more to end facing RLOD (i.e., 7/8 total turn rather than ¾).

Roundalab is inconsistent in the timing of the Tumble Turn. Roundalab specifies for waltz -- 1&23; – which means the first two steps are done very quickly and the last two take more time – I prefer this timing. Roundalab specifies for foxtrot – SQ&Q; – which means the first step is very slow, while the second & third steps are double fast, and the last step is quick. I don’t like this timing because it means the third step is rushed instead of “preparing” the tumbling fourth step. The third step is the rising, perhaps even “hovering,” step, and doing this double-quick makes it difficult to hover into the “tumble.” Roundalab specifies the timing for the quickstep Tumble Turn as SSQQ – which is just backwards from the way it is defined for waltz. Here the first two steps are slow and the last two quick – I think it is better to dance this instead as QQSS (like the waltz) despite what Roundalab says. This allows more time for the key parts of the Tumble Turn which occur on the third and fourth steps.

Note some common errors that dancers do in the Tumble Turn:
  • Overturning the third step -- Yes, the first three steps turn LF, but especially while hovering up on the third step, there is a tendency to overturn so much that instead of taking the fourth tumbling step toward DLC (i.e., continuing progression toward LOD) dancers will end up taking their fourth step going towards DRC. You instead want to keep progressing generally toward LOD on all four steps of the Tumble Turn.
  • Being too far apart -- Note that this figure progresses toward LOD along diagonals -- first man backing to DLC, then forward to DLW (on 2nd & 3rd steps) and finally forward to DLC rotating to face DRC. If the dancers do not remain in good frame and in contact with each other, they will not move together the same way at the same time in the same direction and that makes things uncomfortable.
  • Being off-balance on the pivoting, tumble step -- Keep in good frame and keep body balanced over the weighted foot. Note that you are not supposed to tumble off-balance onto the floor in the "Tumble" Turn.

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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