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On Body Mechanics III

by Roy & Phyllis Stier
October, 1988

Continuing from last time—

We have discussed CBM, so let's have a look at CBMP (contrary body movement position). Simply stated, when you put one foot in line with the other and maintain parallel shoulders, you are in CBMP. Round dance leaders usually use the term "contra body" to indicate this, but there are times when you can be in CBMP when there is no shoulder reference. For instance, on rocking apart from partner from open facing in swing or jive, the feet are placed in line, hence CBMP. It is most evident in slow fox trot where every feather is an example of CBMP. We usually add that the man is outside partner, however, this is not to be confused with the old fashioned hip-to-hip position. The best way to describe the partnership for a Feather step, a Feather Finish or a Feather Ending is to say that it is a "reluctant" move from closed position. We can also have a combination of CBM (shaping) and CBMP s often found in quickstep. Since both Roundalab and U.R.D.C. are developing standard figures, we should be able to find references to both CBM and CBMP, particularly in the chart form.

The word "tracking" comes into the picture as a consideration for round dancers who have trouble with smooth and controlled movement, usually when making turns. It is the direction taken for the development of a figure, which must be held, to make way for comfortable completion of it and to be in the right body conformation to start the next. In the right (natural) turn, both steps 1 and 2 are kept on the same alignment, even though there is considerable turn. In waltz, the 3rd step will then be made by drawing the thighs together (right to left for the man) up to 1/8 right-face. In fox trot, the alignment is the same but the man will have to do a little swivel on his left foot to keep the lady in line (she has already turned to line of dance on her heel turn) before stepping back toward reverse line of dance. Often, the left (reverse) turn in fox trot requires less turn on the 2nd step, depending upon starting alignment, but in any case, the man will make the same amount on step 2 in the waltz. One good example of the use of tracking is in the Weave. The Promenade Weave, which starts in semi-closed position, starts out going to diagonal center and then tails off heading directly toward diagonal wall. It has the configuration of a flat V, but more often than not, you will see dances curving this figure to get to where the want to end.

A few considerations at random, which could be of help to novice dancers who want to improve their floor appearance: Ladies should keep their body shape to the left but not lean deliberately backward in the process. Men need to shape somewhat to the left also, but the concentration should be on a small rotation of the upper body to the right. The best body pose for closed position is the maintenance of slightly flexed knees while keeping them slightly in front of the body. When moving forward, the man should think of dancing slightly "under" his partner. When moving backward, both man and lady should be aware of keeping the hips somewhat elevated; however, this will come as a rather natural thing if the concentration is on the body moving out first.

We will continue with body mechanics by looking at specific figures, to analyze their peculiarities, starting next month.

This column comes from a series published in Cue Sheet Magazine between 1987 and 1992, and is reprinted with permission. The full series is collected in an 86-pg booklet, available for $30.00 plus postage. E-mail Fran Kropf at This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)  Newsletter, October 2009.


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