Meredith & Harold



MAJOR SECTIONS: Figures | Articles | Links | Alph. Index | Search | Home

Figures in the Smooth Rhythms
Viennese Waltz
International Tango
American Tango
Two Step
Five Count
One Step
Figures in the Latin Rhythms
Cha Cha
Single Swing
West Coast Swing
Slow Two Step
Argentine Tango
Paso Doble
Dance Articles
Articles Home

Dance Figures

Dance Rhythms
Lead and Follow
Dance Styling
Fred Astaire Album
Other Sections
Dance Links
Music Clips For Each Rhythm
Search Site/Web
Contact Me

Ins and Outs of SCP

by Sandi & Dan Finch

SCP, the shorthand for Semi-Closed Position, is perhaps the most misunderstood of all the 50 some dancing positions we recognize in this activity. We hear repeatedly that good dance position is essential to ensure good balance and correct partnering, but somehow this position—the one you learned in the first weeks of dancing—haunts us no matter how long we dance.

You remember that first form of SCP? Bodies facing square to line of dance, toes pointing straight forward, arms contorted to form some kind of hold with partner. It’s the perfect example of ignoring form to get a beginner group dancing and having fun, and hoping to “fix it later.” [Basic philosophy: Too much technique too early gets in the way of getting people started. Yes, you do have to unlearn some things as you go along.]

That first SCP worked fine until you began to learn figures that required interaction between the partners, for the body shifts that direct a change of position, movement, or rotation. We get better at most things, why is SCP so difficult?

For one reason, a great deal of muscle memory has been stored by the time we get to this discussion. Understanding SCP means knowing about diagonals, something not usually taught in a basics class. It also requires a learned flexibility that the top half of the body can move independently from the bottom half. It boils down to a more complicated description.

In the beginning, two forward two steps meant moving forward in the direction the toes are pointed. If you are in closed position, Lady understands that to mean going backward in the direction her heels are pointed.

Get to SCP and more concepts creep in. Feet are supposed to be facing a different direction from the body. OMG, which one is forward? Your alignment isn’t just the direction your feet are pointed. You have to describe alignment now as the direction you are moving in relation to the room (line of dance, for example), while your toes and body are pointing on some diagonal. In other words, we need to know where the body is facing, where the feet are pointing and the direction we intend to move. Then, you need information about CBMP (contra body movement position) to give you the means to move your feet from that position. Once that is mastered, you now have to fix the upper body so you can maintain a frame—no chicken wings.

How do you know if you have good SCP? Stand in semi-closed position with your partner. Drop arms and let them hang loose. With shoulders and hips generally parallel, your lead arms should hang comfortably so you can place your hand on the front of your lead hips while the trail arm —when raised—points to reverse line of dance. Men should dance SCP as though they have a left side lead. Lady should feel like she is dancing away from her left elbow, like it is being pulled behind her.

Starting with the feet, stand in closed position facing wall, toes pointing to partner. Turn the lead foot 90 degrees to point to line of dance, keeping the trail foot pointing to partner. Move both feet to meet in the middle of that space to establish the diagonal foot alignment for SCP.

Another way to do this: From CP facing wall, both partners swivel their feet 1/8th (left face for him, right face for her).

In both instances, their hips need to remain almost parallel. Consider this alternative: Men stand with feet and body facing diagonal line and wall (DLW). Turn your hips until your shoulders face the wall, leaving feet on the diagonal. Ladies, start facing diagonal line and center (DLC), and turn your body slightly toward center of hall, creating a very tight v-shape. Don’t move the feet.

When going from closed position to semi, most men turn left instead of toward their partner, which pulls his left shoulder away and creates a chicken wing with his right shoulder. This is wrong. Man’s hips control his partner’s upper body. If he wants her to open from CP to SCP, he rotates his hips slightly to the right (which takes his right hip “away” and she has to move into that v-shape to maintain contact). If he wants her to go to CP from SCP, he rotates his hips slightly left (bringing his right hip toward partner, effectively pushing her left hip and causing her to close).

The Roundalab Glossary defines SCP: “As in closed position, man has slight upper body turn to right keeping woman strongly in his right side, allowing woman to open head [turn to right]. Woman looks line of progression.” OK as far as it goes, but it needs more about alignments.

Common problems with SCP: Opening your bodies (the v-shape) too much and pointing feet LOD. There may also be a tendency to drop the lead shoulder, as though plodding into the wind.

If Lady is not in good position, the first step will cause her to open too much, their hips will knock and the step will land pointing LOD. If she stays on his right side (starting with good CP), she will be able to take her steps with her leg following behind her partner’s.

From a club newsletter, March 2016, and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, September 2017.


Alphabetical Index to
and Technique
Online since 2001 İHarold and Meredith Sears, Boulder, CO, All rights reserved.