Outside the Box
by Sandi &
Reverse fallaway and its cousins—reverse fallaway and slip, and three
fallaways—are among the most troublesome figures we teach. Part of the
problem is understanding what fallaway means. Part is where to put the
rise and fall, if any. And once you learn it, you may believe that is
the only way to do it. Not so. Even the Roundalab (RAL) Manual of
Standards gives a flexibility in how to do the figures.
You may also believe that the reverse fallaway is always followed by a
slip or slip pivot. Look at the wild variety of options available with
that one figure, and it is easy to see why it is one of the most
misunderstood and most often requested for review.
That may also explain why the figure appeared as the central teaching
point in two unrelated lectures at the Blackpool Congress this year.
The Congress is two days of lectures by world class dancers in the
middle of the Blackpool Dance Festival in late May each year.
Fallaway is a position, defined as both partners moving backward in
semi-closed position. You see it most frequently in phase III jive as
the start of such figures as fallaway rock and fallaway throwaway. Both
rock back into semi before going forward into the basic jive rock or
It is likely that the fallaway you learned in jive was never connected
to the next level, the reverse fallaway (phase IV). This figure
consists of three steps, from closed position Man stepping forward and
turning left face (a reverse action) side and back, achieving a
fallaway position. Then he crosses left slightly behind. Lady steps
back three steps with left shoulder lead. The man has opened himself to
semi-closed position, moving backward.
Jonathan Wilkins, former US national champion, in a lecture on Ballroom
Harmony at the Congress, had a simple way of describing going to any
semi, including the reverse fallaway. A partnership is like two doors,
he said. One has to open to go to semi-closed position. When turning
right, the man opens the Lady; when turning left, he opens himself. A
telemark, for example, is a left turning figure and once Lady does her
heel turn, Man leaves her alone and opens himself to semi. Same with an
outside change to semi. For an impetus to semi, a right turning figure,
Man opens Lady to semi. The reverse fallaway is a left turning figure,
thus the man opens himself to semi You don’t want both to open, or
you’ll have the dreaded hip to hip position.
What can you do from a reverse fallaway besides a slip? How about a
reverse fallaway (no slip) to a forward Lady swivel? You find that in
Randy & Marie Preskitt’s phase IV Night and Day.
How about a foxtrot reverse fallaway to back feather? Dance three steps
of the standard reverse fallaway (SQQ). Man, with slight body turn to
left, steps side right. Lady turns left and steps side and forward
left. Man then goes back L in Banjo, Lady forward R; then back R down
LOD. Follow with feather finish to end diagonal wall.
Wilkins had a couple do an entire routine of fallaways to demonstrate
what he called the “artistry” of fallaway. Three fallaways with feather
ending into reverse fallaway and slip pivot, bounce fallaway with
feather ending, checked fallaway into running finish, curved feather,
fallaway with right slip, running spin, dropped fallaway with ronde,
and syncopated fallaway. Even though it was a routine, it flowed and
had the “harmony” of working slightly different leads for each of the
fallaways, with changes in rise and fall.
Christopher Hawkins, a former English champion, used the fallaways in
waltz to show how a change in where to rise made the figures different.
The standard reverse fallaway and slip will have rise on &3
(12&3). The three fallaways can be danced flat, with no rise,
but using rise on 2 creates power for lady to her first slip. Putting
the rise at the end of a fallaway gives power going into the next
figure, like a hesitation change.
This didn’t make it any easier, but maybe more fun.
a club newsletter, August, 2016,
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, March 2019.